Nicola Sturgeon facing scrutiny over secret meeting with Salmond aide during misconduct probe
Paul Hutcheon 5 hrs ago What UK lockdown means for your post Time for revenge? SNP war over acquitted Salmond and ‘feminist’ Sturgeon © PA Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is facing questions about a private meeting with Alex Salmond’s former chief of staff during his criminal trial.
Nicola Sturgeon is facing questions about a private meeting she attended during the Scottish Government’s botched sexual misconduct probe into Alex Salmond.
The First Minister previously confirmed meeting Salmond three times when the allegations were being investigated by officials.
However, it was claimed during this month’s criminal trial that she also met Salmond’s former chief of staff Geoff Aberdein after the complaints were made.
Salmond was acquitted of sexual offences charges against nine women yesterday after a trial lasting more than a fortnight. © Getty Former First Minister Alex Salmond speaks to the media after being acquitted of rape and sexual assault.
The criminal case came after the government he used to lead investigated him over alleged sexual impropriety.
As revealed by the Daily Record in 2018, two female civil servants had accused Salmond of misconduct when he was first minister.
Salmond launched a judicial review and a court ruled the internal investigation had been illegal. Attention then turned to a series of contacts Sturgeon had with Salmond when the Scottish Government investigation was live.
The pair first met at Sturgeon’s home on April 2, 2018, at which point Salmond revealed he was under investigation.
Sturgeon and Salmond spoke on the telephone later in the month, after which they met in Aberdeen in June.
© PA Geoff Aberdein leaves the High Court in Edinburgh after giving evidence in trial of Alex Salmond A further meeting between the two SNP heavyweights took place at the First Minister’s home in July, as did another phone call in the same month.
However, following claims that Sturgeon knew about the investigation before the April 2 meeting, a Scottish Government spokesperson said in 2019: “Suggestions by Mr Salmond’s ‘insiders’ that the First Minister knew about the investigation before April 2 are not true.”
During this month’s trial, Aberdein gave evidence that he met Sturgeon in her office in the Scottish Parliament in March 2018, days before the first confirmed meeting.
It came to light after Gordon Jackson, Salmond’s QC, asked Aberdein if he had taken part in a meeting with Sturgeon and one of Salmond’s accusers on March 29, to which he said yes.
Asked about the location, Aberdein replied: “At the Scottish Parliament in the First Minister’s office.”
A Scottish Parliament inquiry will examine the botched investigation and scrutinise the meetings between Salmond and Sturgeon.
Labour MSP Pauline McNeill said: “We would expect questions about this to be fully explored during parliamentary scrutiny of this.”
Scottish Tory leader Jackson Carlaw said: “There are now some very serious questions facing the SNP, the Scottish Government and Nicola Sturgeon.
“The court case may be over but for them, this is just the beginning.”