Davidson erupts at SNP ‘cover-up’ as rattled Sturgeon denies Salmond ‘deluded conspiracy’

FMQs: Sturgeon slams ‘dangerous and deluded conspiracy’

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During a heated First Minister’s Questions, Nicola Sturgeon warned against signing up to “damaging and deluded conspiracy theories” regarding her involvement in the handling of allegations made against former SNP leader Alex Salmond. Former Scottish Conservative Party leader Ruth Davidson stated that the evidence that is being redacted is the part most damaging to Ms Sturgeon. 

Ms Sturgeon said: “Anyone who is suggesting that prosecution decisions or decisions that the Crown Office takes in terms of upholding court orders is in any way politically influenced is not just wrong and not just completely lacking in a single shred of evidence to back that claim up.

“I would also suggest that they are signing up to a dangerous and quite deluded conspiracy theory that risks undermining the integrity and well-deserved reputation of Scotland’s independent justice system.

“All of us have a duty to conduct debates in a way that does not unfairly trash the reputation of people who are doing their jobs independent of Government.”

Ms Davidosn replied: “Here is why all the redacted parts of Alex Salmond’s evidence are important because they are exactly the parts that expose the First Minister.

“On the BBC twice she claimed not to know anything about sexual misconduct claims before April 2018.

“Three separate times she told Parliament that she found out from Alex Salmond himself that month.

“But she has been desperate to shutdown everything about the secret meeting in her office that happened a month before because it wrecks her whole argument and confirms that she misled Parliament.

“The truth is she knew about these allegations before April 2018 and worst we know now that she discussed sexual harassment complaints against Alex Salmond with her chief executive, with her chief civil servant and with her chief of staff in November, four months earlier.

Sturgeon: Alex Neil issues warning over Salmond ‘conspiracy’

“Does the First Minister understand why to the public this looks like a cover-up when the exact evidence that is being redacted is most damaging to her personally?”

The SNP leader responded: “The problem with Ruth Davidson standing up here and recounting all of this and suggesting that it is some kind of cover-up is this.

“Every single allegation and claim she has just made there was included in the written evidence that I submitted to the committee.

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“I submitted that in August last year, I have been waiting until then to appear before the committee.”

Mr Salmond was accused of sexual harassment and was subject to a Government investigation.

He was later awarded £500,000 by the Scottish High Court after the Government admitted they acted unlawfully when they were investigating those claims of sexual harassment. 

Mr Salmond was cleared of all charges and the inquiry is now looking at what went wrong and is focusing on the role Nicola Sturgeon and other SNP members played in handling the case. 

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