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Nicola Sturgeon 2021 did not breach ministerial code. independent report .

Nicola Sturgeon 2021  did not breach ministerial code. independent report .
James Hamilton QC

Nicola Sturgeon Nicola Sturgeon breach not did ministerial independent report … code,

Mon, 22 Mar 2021 17:00:00 +0000

An independent inquiry by James Hamilton QC has found the First Minister did not breach rules governing ministerial behaviour

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Bridport 6°c

Nicola Sturgeon

An independent report has cleared Scotland’s First Minister of breaching the ministerial code following her government’s botched handling of harassment allegations against Alex Salmond.

Nicola Sturgeon welcomed the results of the investigation, which was carried out by James Hamilton QC and challenged her political rivals to respect his verdict.

The Conservatives, however, insisted that she was not “free and clear” despite Mr Hamilton stating the First Minister “did not breach the provisions of the ministerial code”.

Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross hit out: “This report does not change the overwhelming evidence that Nicola Sturgeon misled Parliament, her government badly let women down and wasted more than £500,000 of taxpayers’ money.”

The former first minister was awarded more than £500,000 when the Court of Session in Edinburgh ruled the Scottish Government had acted unlawfully in the way it handled harassment allegations made by two women.

Ms Sturgeon again apologised to them for the way they had been “let down” by the Scottish Government.

She said: “I want, once again, to remind people that at the heart of this case were women who had the courage to come forward and complain.”

Mr Hamilton, a former director of public prosecutions in the Republic of Ireland, is the independent adviser the Scottish Government on the ministerial code, a set of rules about how ministers should conduct themselves.

After his findings were published Ms Sturgeon said she was “happy that his report’s findings clear me of any breach of the ministerial code”.

The First Minister insisted: “I sought at every stage in this issue to act with integrity and in the public interest.

“As I have previously made clear, I did not consider that I had broken the code, but these findings are official, definitive and independent adjudication of that.”

And she added: “Prior to its publication, opposition politicians stressed the importance of respecting and accepting the outcome of Mr Hamilton’s independent inquiry, and I committed wholeheartedly to doing so.

“Now that he has reported, it is incumbent on them to do likewise.”

Ms Sturgeon had insisted to Parliament that she only became aware of the allegations against her predecessor in a meeting at her Glasgow home on April 2 2018.

For months @NicolaSturgeon⁩ has faced a barrage of abuse.

Our First Minister has acted with dignity, focused on tackling Covid and always accepted our failure to protect women who made complaints.

The words below from the Independent Inquiry are a complete vindication of her.

pic.twitter.com/xYpdwa4jUz

— John Swinney (@JohnSwinney) March 22, 2021

Mr Hamilton said that by failing to mention a meeting she had with his former chief of staff Geoff Aberdein just days earlier, on March 29, which she later said she “forgot” the First Minister had given an “incomplete narrative of events”.

But he added: “I accept that this omission was the result of a genuine failure of recollection and was not deliberate.

“That failure did not therefore in my opinion amount to a breach of the ministerial code.”

Regarding claims she failed to comply with Scottish Government legal advice to the former first minister’s civil action, Mr Hamilton said she did not break the code.

Ms Sturgeon said she welcomed the “comprehensive, evidence-based and unequivocal” conclusion.

Ms Sturgeon had referred herself to the independent adviser on the ministerial code following Mr Salmond’s successful legal challenge.

Mr Hamilton’s investigation was paused in early 2019 to avoid prejudicing criminal proceedings brought against Mr Salmond.

He was acquitted of 13 charges, including sexual assault, indecent assault and attempted rape, in March 2020 following a High Court trial and Mr Hamilton’s inquiry was delayed again by the pandemic, before resuming in August 2020.

A planned no-confidence vote Ms Sturgeon is now likely to fail after the Scottish Greens said they will not support it, saying the Tories have shown “they have no interest in establishing the truth”, in lodging it before the report was published.

But Mr Ross insisted he could not agree with Mr Hamilton’s assessment.

I respect this judgement but we cannot agree that the First Minister suddenly turned forgetful.

It is up to Parliament to decide if she has been misleading, as James Hamilton says.

This report does not change the overwhelming evidence against Nicola Sturgeon.

Full statement 👇 pic.twitter.com/W64MYdgyGq

— Douglas Ross MP (@Douglas4Moray) March 22, 2021

The Conservative MP said: “The First Minister has been given a pass because it has been judged her ‘failure of recollection’ was ‘not deliberate’.

“I respect Mr Hamilton and his judgment but we cannot agree with that assessment.

“Nicola Sturgeon did not suddenly turn forgetful.”

He added: “As James Hamilton says, it is up to the Scottish Parliament to decide if the First Minister has been misleading.”

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Nicola Sturgeon Nicola Sturgeon

Mon, 22 Mar 2021 17:00:00 +0000

Accusations that Nicola Sturgeon may have breached the ministerial code have been investigated by an independent adviser to the Scottish Government

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Putney 8°c

Nicola Sturgeon

Accusations that Nicola Sturgeon may have breached the ministerial code have been investigated by an independent adviser to the Scottish Government.

James Hamilton QC has been looking into whether the First Minister broke the rules governing ministerial conduct and misled the Scottish Parliament.

On Monday, he concluded that Ms Sturgeon did not breach the ministerial code in relation to the four allegations he investigated.

His work is separate from that of a committee of MSPs who have been examining the Government’s handling of harassment complaints made against former first minister Alex Salmond.

– How did the investigation start?

Following Mr Salmond’s successful legal challenge of the Scottish Government’s procedure, which led to him being awarded £512,250 for legal costs, Ms Sturgeon referred herself to the independent adviser on the ministerial code.

That adviser, Mr Hamilton, is a former director of public prosecutions in Ireland.

His investigation was paused in early 2019 to avoid prejudicing criminal proceedings brought against Mr Salmond and was delayed again by the pandemic, before resuming in August 2020.

Mr Salmond was acquitted of 13 charges, including sexual assault, indecent assault and attempted rape, in March 2020 following a High Court trial.

– What has the inquiry been looking at?

A key part of the investigation is the timing of when Ms Sturgeon knew about the complaints made against Mr Salmond and if parliament was properly informed.

Mr Salmond said his successor made “false and manifestly untrue” statements to MSPs several times.

Ms Sturgeon initially told Holyrood she first heard of the sexual misconduct complaints against her predecessor when they met at her home on April 2 2018.

But it later emerged she discussed the allegations with Mr Salmond’s chief of staff, Geoff Aberdein, in her Holyrood office four days earlier.

Ms Sturgeon said she had forgotten the contents of her discussion with Mr Aberdein and it was her meeting with Mr Salmond which was “seared on her memory”.

Mr Hamilton examined the allegation that parliament was misled and found there was no breach of the ministerial code.

He also said that her failure to record meetings and telephone conversations with Mr Salmond and others did not amount to a breach of the code.

– What could the implications be?

A vote of no confidence in the First Minister, tabled by the Conservatives, is due to go ahead in the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday.

However, it is likely to fail as the Scottish Greens have said they will vote with the SNP.

Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie said some of the committee members had “shown utter contempt for the women involved, and for the rules of the Scottish Parliament, by leaking confidential evidence and their own conclusions”.

He said: “If anyone’s resignation is still needed, it is these MSPs who should step down now, and who should not be candidates for re-election in May.”

– What has Nicola Sturgeon said?

Ms Sturgeon has previously said she does not believe she has breached the ministerial code.

On Monday, she welcomed Mr Hamilton’s report, saying it was “comprehensive, evidence-based and unequivocal”.

– How have other parties reacted?

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross has said the First Minister is not “free and clear”, noting the Holyrood committee is due to publish its report on Tuesday morning.

Mr Ross said: “I respect Mr Hamilton and his judgment but we cannot agree with that assessment.

Nicola Sturgeon did not suddenly turn forgetful.

“She is not free and clear.

The First Minister promised to ‘respect the decisions’ of both inquiry reports, not to pick and choose which one suits her and try to discredit the other.”

He said there was still “overwhelming” evidence that Ms Sturgeon misled parliament, pointing to Mr Hamilton’s statement that “it is for the Scottish Parliament to decide whether they were in fact misled”.

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar said: “Unlike others, we have been clear from the outset that we would not prejudge the outcome of this inquiry.

“We acknowledge the findings of the report and we await the publication of the committee inquiry and whether its members conclude the First Minister misled parliament.

“What is clear is that this entire process has deeply damaged public trust in our politics at a time of national crisis, and there are absolutely no winners today.”

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This website and associated newspapers adhere to the Independent Press Standards Organisation’s Editors’ Code of Practice.

If you have a complaint about the editorial content which relates to inaccuracy or intrusion, then please contact the editor here.

If you are dissatisfied with the response provided you can contact IPSO here

This site is part of Newsquest’s audited local newspaper network.

A Gannett Company.

Newsquest Media Group Ltd, Loudwater Mill, Station Road, High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire.

HP10 9TY | 01676637 | Registered in England & Wales.

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– March 22, 2021
Nicola Sturgeon 2021 did not breach ministerial code. independent report .
James Hamilton QC

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