A Conservative MSP has been kicked out of the Scottish parliament’s debating chamber after calling Nicola Sturgeon a liar.
Oliver Mundell claimed the first minister had lied when promising the Scottish government’s full co-operation with the inquiry into how harassment complaints against Alex Salmond were handled.
Mundell then refused to withdraw his accusation that “she lied to parliament” when challenged by presiding officer Ken Mackintosh, who told him to leave.
Holyrood’s Committee on the Scottish Government Handling of Harassment Complaints has suggested it is facing “obstruction” because of a lack of evidence.
Committee convener Linda Fabiani said the investigation is being “completely frustrated” because it is still waiting for information from the Scottish government, SNP chief executive and Sturgeon’s husband Peter Murrell, and former first minister Salmond.
Raising a point of order, Mundell suggested Sturgeon had misled parliament when she said the inquiry “will be able to request whatever material they want, and I undertake today that we will provide whatever material they request”, in January last year.
He said: “Will the presiding officer ask the first minister to explain why she lied to parliament?”
Mackintosh said the issue is being looked at by the committee, and Mundell could raise the matter with the committee or ask the question during parliamentary debates.
But when Mackintosh asked the Tory MSP to “apologise for using the term ‘lied’ in the chamber”, Mundell refused and replied: “I do feel it is the appropriate word, and I can’t find anything else that would express the sentiment.”
In response to the Presiding Officer telling him to make the point “without personalising and making pejorative terms which are disrespectful to other members”, Mundell said: “I think it’s disrespectful to the Parliament for the First Minister to make a promise and not to keep it.
“But I can’t withdraw the word, no.”
Asked about the claim that Sturgeon had misled parliament over the government’s co-operation with the inquiry, a Scottish government spokeswoman said: “These claims are demonstrably false.
“The first minister has agreed to personally give evidence to the committee – and as we have made clear, not only is the Government providing all possible material to the committee, we intend to initiate legal proceedings seeking to allow the release of further documents.”
Mundell, the MSP for Dumfriesshire, also sparked a row in the debating chamber last month when he called rural economy secretary Fergus Ewing a “sub-optimal chicken”.
The comment drew angry responses from deputy first minister John Swinney, as well as Ewing’s sister, fellow SNP MSP Annabelle Ewing.
During detailed scrutiny of the Agriculture (Retained EU Law and Data) (Scotland) Bill, Mundell insisted: “The only thing Scottish farmers have to fear is the sub-optimal chicken sitting in the Cabinet Secretary’s chair that refuses to take the big decisions.”
On that occasion, Macintosh ruled the remark was a “metaphor, not a personal insult”, although he said it was “borderline” whether it was acceptable.
However Swinney said: “I do think the comment Mundell made was inappropriate in a parliamentary context.”
The deputy first minister insisted the Conservative’s comment fell “well below what is an acceptable comment”, and said permitting the remarks could result in a “lowering of standards in the national Parliament”.
Ewing then intervened, telling the Tory: “To call my brother a sub-optimal chlorinated chicken, I just think my 12-year-old niece would be hugely unimpressed with you Mr Mundell.”