Nicola Sturgeon did not breach ministerial code over Salmond case, investigation finds

Nicola Sturgeon did not breach the ministerial code over her handling of the Alex Salmond harassment case, an independent investigation has found.

The finding was made by James Hamilton, the Scottish government’s independent adviser on ministerial standards.

He had been asked to examine whether Scotland’s first minister “attempted to influence the conduct of the investigation” into Mr Salmond, her predecessor, and if Ms Sturgeon misled the Scottish Parliament.

Mr Hamilton also looked at whether Ms Sturgeon should have recorded calls and meetings with Mr Salmond.

The SNP leader referred herself for investigation by Mr Hamilton in January 2019 after Mr Salmond’s successful legal challenge of the Scottish Government’s unlawful investigation into harassment complaints against him, which led to him being awarded £512,250 for legal costs.

The investigation was paused in early 2019 to avoid prejudicing criminal proceedings brought against Mr Salmond, who was later acquitted of all 13 charges – including sexual assault, indecent assault and attempted rape – in March 2020 following a High Court trial.

But Mr Hamilton’s inquiry was then delayed again by the coronavirus crisis, before resuming in August 2020.

The ministerial code is a set of rules about how ministers should conduct themselves.

The code says it is the First Minister who is “the ultimate judge of the standards of behaviour expected of a minister” and the appropriate consequences for breaches.

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