Nicola Sturgeon has said many people feel “very let down” by Alex Salmond, including herself, and has called on the former first minister to apologise for his behaviour.
Asked by Murdo Fraser MSP if she owed the Scottish people an apology for having previously told them they should trust Mr Salmond, Ms Sturgeon said she “trusted him” and refused to “apologise for the behaviour of somebody else”.
The first minister also rubbished Mr Salmond’s claim that a plot was hatched to remove him from public life, describing the suggestion as “absurd” to the Committee on the Scottish Government Handling of Harassment Complaints.
Mr Salmond has previously alleged that Scotland’s first minister made a “malicious and concerted” attempt to rid him of a political future through the government’s investigation into sexual harassment claims made against him.
Mr Salmond, who was acquitted of 13 charges in criminal court, won a judicial review which found the government’s investigation was “tainted by apparent bias”.
However, Ms Sturgeon, whose political future is at stake, strongly denies the “plot” allegations, saying there is not “a shred of evidence” to support them.
Morning, and welcome to The Independent’s live blog on events in Holyrood.
Scottish Tories call on Sturgeon to resign
Scottish Conservatives have called on Nicola Sturgeon to resign after the publication of previously secret legal advice on the investigation into Alex Salmond.
This appears to confirm Mr Salmond’s suggestion that lawyers told the Scottish government the case against him would fail several months before it publicly conceded in January 2019.
Our political correspondent Ashley Cowburn reports:
Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross says he will submit motion of no confidence in first minister
Sturgeon to appear before Salmond inquiry at 9am
Douglas Ross, the leader of the Scottish Tories, alleges that Nicola Sturgeon lied to Holyrood and broke the ministerial code over an investigation into her predecessor Alex Salmond.
However, Ms Sturgeon has not yet presented her evidence to the Salmond inquiry.
The first minister will appear before it at 9am and questioning is expected to last several hours.
First minister is fighting for her political future
For those who missed it earlier this week, here’s Sean O’Grady’s analysis of the Sturgeon-Salmond saga.
He looks at Ms Sturgeon’s political rise and the implications of her potential fall.
With an independent Scotland now a distinct possibility, a feud with her predecessor means the woman at the heart of the campaign may not be in power much longer. Sean O’Grady explores Nicola Sturgeon’s extraordinary rise... and considers the implications of her potential fall
Sturgeon likely to be ‘exonerated’ by inquiry, says Blackford
Ian Blackford, the SNP’s leader at Westminster, said he was confident Nicola Sturgeon will “exonerated” after appearing before the Holyrood inquiry.
Speaking shortly ahead of her appearance, Mr Blackford told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Wednesday: “She is a woman of integrity and honesty and I fully expect that at the end of this process, and we are very close to that, that the first minister will be exonerated and in particular will be exonerated by the standards commissioner.”
SNP leader has not discussed resigning, says deputy
Scottish deputy first minister John Swinney said Nicola Sturgeon has not mentioned resigning.
This comes after the Scottish Conservatives called on her to leave her position over the government’s mishandling of complaints made against Alex Salmond.
Mr Swinney told BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland: “Let’s let the inquiries take their course and lets make judgments in the light of those inquiries.”
Pointing to the example of home secretary Priti Patel, he added that breaches of ministerial code did not always result in resignations.
Sturgeon appears before Holyrood committee
Nicola Sturgeon has appeared before Holyrood’s Committee on the Scottish Government Handling of Harassment Complaints.
For the next few hours, she will face tough questions about her government’s handling of complaints made against her predecessor Alex Salmond.
‘Absolutely right’ for Scottish government to investigate complaints against Salmond, Sturgeon says
Nicola Sturgeon has insisted it was "absolutely right" that the Scottish government investigated complaints made against her predecessor, former first minister Alex Salmond.
She said the "spotlight shone on historic workplace harassment in late 2017 was long overdue".
And she said at that point it was "absolutely right at that time for my government to review its processes, consider any weaknesses and gaps in them and put in place a procedure that would allow complaints, including those of an historic nature, to be investigated".
Ms Sturgeon told the committee investigating the Scottish government's botched handling of harassment allegations made against the former first minister: "When complaints were made about Alex Salmond it was also absolutely right that the government took them seriously and subjected them to investigation.
"An individual's profile, status or connections should not result in complaints of this nature being ignored or swept under the carpet. That in this case it was a former first minister does not change that."
‘I have searched my soul,’ Sturgeon says as she apologises
Nicola Sturgeon has said she has “searched my soul on all of this many, many times over” as she began her evidence to the Committee on the Scottish Government Handling of Harassment Complaints.
Ms Sturgeon said she accepted that a "very serious mistake" was made when investigating the complaints against Mr Salmond.
As a result she said "two women were failed and tax payers' money was lost, I deeply regret that."
The first minister said: "Although I was not aware of the error at the time I am the head of the Scottish government so I want to take this opportunity to say sorry to the two women involved and to the wider public."
Sturgeon says meeting with Salmond was in ‘personal and party space'
Nicola Sturgeon has insisted that a meeting on 2 April with her predecessor Alex Salmond was “firmly in the personal and party space”.
Mr Salmond had earlier said there was “no doubt” that it concerned the Scottish government’s investigation of him.
She told the committee: “When he arrived at my house he was insistent he speak to me entirely privately, away from his former chief of staff Geoff Aberdein and Duncan Hamilton, who had accompanied him, and my chief of staff who was with me.
“That would have seemed unnecessary had there already been a shared understanding on the part of all of us.”
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