Tories to press ahead with Sturgeon no-confidence vote after committee report
The New European
- Credit: PA
The Scottish Tories have said they will press ahead with a vote of no confidence in Nicola Sturgeon after a Holyrood committee found she misled parliament.
The final report of the Committee on the Scottish government Handling of Harassment Complaints was released on Tuesday, showing a majority of MSPs on the committee felt that Sturgeon had provided an “inaccurate account” of a meeting with her predecessor.
The first minister said she had not told Alex Salmond she would intervene after complaints of harassment were made against him, but the committee found she “did in fact leave Mr Salmond with the impression that she would, if necessary, intervene” in a meeting in her Glasgow home on April 2 2018.
The report continued: “Her written evidence is therefore an inaccurate account of what happened, and she has misled the committee on this matter.”
Salmond won a more than £500,000 settlement from the Scottish government after the complaints procedure was deemed to be “tainted with apparent bias”.
The former first minister was later cleared of 13 charges of sexual misconduct at Edinburgh High Court last year.
The findings come after the final report of James Hamilton’s investigation into a possible breach of the ministerial code cleared the first minister on Monday.
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Tory MSP and committee member, Murdo Fraser, said: “As James Hamilton said yesterday, it is for the Scottish parliament to decide whether they were in fact misled.
“The committee verdict is in – Nicola Sturgeon misled Parliament and the public.”
As the party announced it would continue on with the vote of no confidence, Fraser added: “If she ploughs on regardless, as she did against the advice of lawyers in the doomed Alex Salmond judicial review case, the first minister will leave the country scarred by the most bitter divisions.
“It seems clear that Nicola Sturgeon will refuse to abide by the principle of democratic accountability for her government’s monumental mistakes.
“The committee report indicates that even if the first minister won’t be held accountable, numerous senior government officials should consider their position.
“It is time for someone to accept responsibility for letting women down, wasting more than £500,000 of taxpayers’ money, and the abundance of false and misleading statements from senior government figures.”
The MSP also said there should be a “judge-led inquiry” established in the next parliamentary session “to uncover all the details”.
Despite the Tories pledging to table a motion of no confidence in the first minister, it is likely to fail, as the Scottish Greens have already said they will not support such a vote, securing Sturgeon’s future.
Scottish Labour deputy leader, Jackie Baillie, who also sat on the committee, said permanent secretary Leslie Evans should take responsibility for the failed complaints process that was put in place.
She also said there was “an urgent need for reform” of current complaints practices to ensure procedures were “fit for purpose and lawful”.
Baillie added: “We also believe the first minister has misled the committee about whether she would intervene, following her meeting with Alex Salmond on April 2, an act which is tantamount to misleading the Parliament.
“The Hamilton report may have exonerated the First Minister of breaching the ministerial code, but the catastrophic and myriad failings this committee inquiry have revealed have called into question her judgement.”
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