Nicola Sturgeon did not breach the ministerial code, independent inquiry finds

First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, leaves her home in Glasgow. Picture date: Monday March

First minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, leaves her home in Glasgow - Credit: PA

First minister Nicola Sturgeon did not breach the ministerial code, an independent inquiry has concluded.

The finding clears the first minister of any wrongdoing in the Salmond inquiry into sexual assault complaints.

An investigation by James Hamilton found that Sturgeon did not breach the ministerial code, following allegations she failed to record meetings with Salmond and others in 2018.

He also examined the allegation that Sturgeon misled parliament in relation to the meetings, again finding there was no breach of the code.

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

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His 61-page report was published on Monday.

It said: “I am of the opinion that the first minister did not breach the provisions of the Ministerial Code in respect of any of these matters.”

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Sturgeon said she welcomed the "comprehensive, evidence-based and unequivocal" conclusions of the inquiry.

In a statement, she said: "Mr Hamilton has considered all of the allegations against me, and I am happy that his report’s findings clear me of any breach of the ministerial code.

"I sought at every stage in this issue to act with integrity and in the public interest."

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."

A planned no-confidence vote in the first minister on Tuesday is now likely to fail after the Scottish Greens said they will not support it.

The party’s co-leader Patrick Harvie MSP said: "Mr Hamilton has clearly concluded that the first minister did not breach the ministerial code, so we will not support the vote of no confidence being pushed by the Tories.

“In lodging a vote of no confidence before this report was published, just as they called for the first minister’s resignation before she even gave evidence to the parliamentary committee, the Tories have shown that they have no interest in establishing the truth.

"This entire saga should have been about examining a process that let down women and ensuring that was never repeated."

Hamilton concluded in his report that Sturgeon did not breach the ministerial code in respect of any of the four issues he considered.

These included an allegation that her "failure to record her meetings with and telephone discussions with Salmond and others” in March, April, June and July 2018 was a breach and that the first minister “may have attempted to influence the conduct of the investigation” into harassment complaints made against Alex Salmond.

The third issue centred on whether Sturgeon misled the Scottish parliament in relation to the meetings in 2018, and the fourth alleged that Sturgeon was in breach of her duty to comply with the law in relation to Salmond’s successful legal challenge against the Scottish government.

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