Salmond or Sturgeon: Which One is Lying?
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is in a pickle. The kind of pickle that were the situation to be applied to the Prime Minister, the media would be reporting nothing else on all channels and all front pages. She and her government are under two separate inquiries both relating to how she handled the sexual assault allegations against Alex Salmond. For those who are not keeping up, Guido has a handy stage by stage explainer:
Inquiry 1: Did Sturgeon Breach the Ministerial Code?
- There is a dispute over whether Sturgeon lied about when she learned of sexual harassment complaints against Salmond. And by implication why she kept them to herself if she learned of them earlier…
- Sturgeon repeatedly insisted to the Scottish Parliament that she only learned of the allegations from Alex Salmond himself on 2 April, 2018.
- But she subsequently admitted she met with Salmond’s former Chief of Staff in her office four days earlier, on 29 March – a meeting Salmond claims was pre-arranged and discussed details of the allegations against him. Sturgeon claims she had “forgotten” all about it.
- The Ministerial Code says “Ministers who knowingly mislead the Parliament will be expected to offer their resignation to the First Minister”
- The Ministerial Code also states that “the basic facts” of government meetings with “external individuals” should be recorded. No records were made about the 2 April meeting…
- Sturgeon claims the meeting was not Governmental, saying she “met a friend of 30 years”.
- Salmond says “all participants in that meeting were fully aware of what the meeting was about and why it had been arranged”.
- So what and when did Sturgeon know, why did she meet Salmond privately, and why was none of it recorded?
Inquiry 2: Did Sturgeon’s Government Mishandle the Salmond Complaints
- Salmond says counsel had told the Scottish Government before the end of October 2018 that they were staring defeat in the face. He claims despite this, the Government pushed ahead with the case ultimately until it concluded in January 2019. Costing far more to the Scottish taxpayer…
- This would breach the Ministerial Code which says Ministers must comply with the law and “should therefore ensure that their decisions are informed by appropriate analysis of the legal considerations and that the legal implications of any course of action are considered at the earliest opportunity.”
- Sturgeon’s Government insists it did not realise it would lose until the end of December 2018.
Earlier this month Alex Salmond submitted evidence to this second inquiry, which touched on details of the first one too, calling evidence Sturgeon had submitted “simply untrue“. It went on to say…
“The pre-arranged meeting in the Scottish Parliament of 29 March 2018 was “forgotten” about because acknowledging it would have rendered ridiculous the claim made by the first minister in parliament that it had been believed that the meeting on 2 April was on SNP Party business and thus held at her private residence.”
Sturgeon says she “entirely rejects” Salmond’s claims. So who’s lying, Sturgeon or Salmond? Only one can be telling the truth….