BBC News (2019)

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Re: BBC News (2019)

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Nicola Sturgeon breached ministerial code over Alex Salmond saga

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Nicola Sturgeon has been found to have breached the ministerial code over her involvement in the Alex Salmond saga.

An independent inquiry by senior Irish lawyer James Hamilton had been examining whether the first minister misled the Scottish Parliament over what she knew and when. His report said Ms Sturgeon had given an "incomplete narrative of events" to MSPs. He continued that this was most likely "a deliberate attempt to hide her actions" Mr Hamilton said he was therefore of the opinion that Ms Sturgeon had breached multiple provisions of the code. The code sets out the standards expected of Scottish government ministers, and states that anyone who deliberately misleads Holyrood would be expected to resign.

Mr Hamilton concluded in his report, some parts of which were heavily redacted, that Ms Sturgeon did breach the ministerial code in respect of two of the four issues he considered. These included allegations that Ms Sturgeon had failed to record a series of meetings and telephone discussions with Mr Salmond and others in 2018. Mr Hamilton concluded that the meetings were government business - contrary to Ms Sturgeon's claims that they were a party matter.

The second issue centred on whether Ms Sturgeon misled the Scottish Parliament in relation to the meetings in 2017. The first minister insisted she had first learned of the complaints from Mr Salmond at her home on 2 April, but later said she had had "forgotten" about a meeting with his former chief of staff four days earlier, on 29 March. Mr Hamilton said it was "inconceivable" that Ms Sturgeon had forgotten about the meetings and questioned her motives for not telling MSPs about this meeting finding it "highly likely" that she deliberately attempted to conceal it. He said she had given parliament "an incomplete narrative of events", but added: "I do not accept that this omission was the result of a genuine failure of recollection and was not deliberate."

The third ground of investigation alleged that Ms Sturgeon was in breach of her duty to comply with the law in relation to Mr Salmond's successful legal challenge against the Scottish government. Mr Salmond has pointed to external legal advice warning that the government may be at risk of losing the case as early as October 2018, but ministers decided to fight on until January 2019 - and ultimately had to pay Mr Salmond more than £500,000 in legal costs. Mr Salmond was later cleared of 13 charges of sexual assault against nine women after a separate High Court trial in March of last year. Mr Hamilton said Ms Sturgeon had relied on advice from the law officers, as she was "fully entitled" to do, and said Mr Salmond "appears to be under the misapprehension that the government is under a duty to withdraw a case if advised that there is less than an evens chance of winning".

He finally looked at whether the first minister "may have attempted to influence the conduct of the investigation" into the harassment complaints made against Mr Salmond, her predecessor as first minister and SNP leader. The lawyer said the key point was that Ms Sturgeon had not intervened, and said that had Mr Salmond really believed she had agreed to it during a meeting on 2 April 2017 then, "one might have expected him to follow it up and to press home his advantage" - but that no further contact was made for three weeks.

The lawyer's 61-page report concluded: "I am of the opinion that the first minister did breach the provisions of the ministerial code in respect of two of these matters." Ms Sturgeon has not yet commented on the report.

The Scottish Conservatives plan to hold a vote of no confidence in the first minister on Tuesday afternoon. Scottish Conservative Leader Ruth Davidson said "This report and the Committee of the Scottish Parliament have separately come to the same conclusion, Nicola Sturgeon misled Parliament, misled the Scottish people, and lied to the nation." Scottish Labour Deputy Leader Jackie Baillie called for Nicola Sturgeon to "resign with dignity or be carried out by opposition parties". There is not, as of yet, any word from the Scottish Greens on how they intend to vote on the Motion of No Confidence as they support the SNP through a Confidence and Supply arrangement.
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Re: BBC News (2019)

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Nicola Sturgeon Resigns as First Minister, Election Imminent at Holyrood

Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland and Leader of the SNP, has resigned

In a brief statement the former First Minister said: "It is clear that my position as First Minister has been brought into question and my personal mandate to lead the Scottish people has been bought into question. I am therefore resigning as First Minister of Scotland and will contest a snap Holyrood election to reaffirm my mandate with the Scottish people and secure a referendum on our independence."

Ms Sturgeon, who was recently accused of breaching the Ministerial Code by both a Holyrood Committee and an independent inquiry, has been a totemic figure in Scottish politics. Since becoming First Minister in 2014 she has never failed to win the most seats in a Scotland-wide election, nor the most votes, and her personal popularity was thought to be beyond reproach. This election will be a test to see whether she can do it again.

Reacting to the news Scottish Conservative leader, Ruth Davidson, said: "Nicola Sturgeon has thrown the SNP into disrepute, and more importantly, she has broken the trust that the Scottish people put in her. The single most important responsibility of a politician is to be honest with the people they serve, and the First Minister has violated that responsibility with flying colors. The way in which the Holyrood machinery worked together to cover up her actions shows that there is a deep rot taking hold within the SNP. If there is indeed going to be an election, the Scottish Conservatives will fight tooth and nail to give the people of Scotland the principled, honest, and focused government they deserve."

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said: "It is absolutely right that Nicola Sturgeon should resign as First Minister after misleading Parliament. We call upon her to do the right thing and resign from leading her party in an early election as well, to safeguard the trust of the Scottish public in politics. Scotland cannot afford an election overshadowed by this rank scandal in the SNP ranks. But whatever she does, Labour stands ready to wage a campaign on the issues that matter to families and communities across Scotland: your child's school, your mother's social care, our public transport. Because for us, Every Community Counts. If there is an early election, we will be making our pitch to the public to Make Scotland Count, because we cannot afford another 4 years of political navelgazing while we sort all this out."

Alex Salmond, Leader of the new Alba Party, said: "I welcome the chance to give the Scottish people a genuine choice at the next election. The SNP have been unchecked in power for too long, it is time for a new hand at the wheel to give fresh ideas a go. Alba wants there to be a Scottish Independence Referendum in the next session of Holyrood but it must be on Scotland's terms with a pan-Scotland independence movement, not just an SNP increasingly beholden to Central Belt liberals."
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