Nicola Sturgeon to refer herself to standards panel over Alex Salmond meetings
Nicola Sturgeon is referring herself to the standards panel on the ministerial code over her meetings with Alex Salmond.
Scotland’s first minister revealed she met her predecessor on three occasions and spoke to him twice on the phone after he was the subject of sexual harassment allegations.
Two women made the complaints against him to the Scottish government in January 2018.
The country’s highest civil court ruled on Tuesday that the handling of the allegations against the former first minster were unlawful.
Ms Sturgeon said: “It is in the interests of the women who have complained that the ongoing police investigations are allowed to continue without any risk of prejudice.
“That must be the priority for everyone.
“Questions have been raised about my meetings and telephone calls with Alex Salmond during the government’s investigation into the complaints which were made.
“I have acted appropriately and in good faith throughout, and in compliance with the ministerial code at all times.
“However, I have reflected carefully and understand that it is also important for parliament and the wider public to be assured of that.
“I have therefore decided to refer the matter for consideration by one or both of the independent advisers on the ministerial code.”
Opposition parties had been calling for Ms Sturgeon to make the referral to the watchdog, with Scottish Conservative deputy leader Jackson Carlaw describing the situation as “a shambles” during first minister’s questions on Tuesday.
Ms Sturgeon said the complaints made against Mr Salmond cannot be ignored.
The first minister said: “The independent advisers will now be consulted on their precise remit, and advice will also be sought on how to ensure that there is no risk of prejudice to the ongoing police investigation. The remit will be published in due course.
“The fact remains that at the centre of this issue are two women whose complaints could not be swept under the carpet.
“Any continuing commentary about these issues at this stage – whether from myself, the government or Mr Salmond and his representatives – would only serve to distract from, and potentially compromise, the proper consideration by the police of the subject matter of their investigations.
“That is something we will not do.”