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.
Video: Sturgeon says she has ‘searched my soul'
Sturgeon says she will always be ‘deeply regretful’ about government mistakes
Scotland’s first minister has said she will always be “deeply regretful” about mistakes made by her government in its investigation of Alex Salmond.
Nicola Sturgeon said she “will always feel bad” for the two women who were let down and the taxpayers’ money that was lost.
Sturgeon wishes her memory of 29 March meeting was ‘more vivid'
Nicola Sturgeon has spoken of a conversation she had with Alex Salmond’s former chief-of-staff Geogg Aberdain on 29 March, 2018.
“What I recall more strongly about the conversation was how worried Geoff seemed to be about Alex’s welfare and state of mind, which as a friend concerned me. He also said he thought Alex might be considering resigning his party membership,” she told the committee.
Ms Sturgeon added that these factors led her to agree to meet him and these factors made the 2 April meeting “firmly in the personal and party space.”
She told the committee she wished her memory of the meeting on 29 March was “more vivid”.
Sturgeon rejects suggestion government delayed committee
Nicola Sturgeon has rejected the suggestion from committee deputy convener Margaret Mitchell that it had “faced delay, obstruction, obfuscation” from the government over its requests for evidence.
Ms Mitchell added that some documents still had not been provided.
Ms Sturgeon replied: “I would not accept the characterisation.”
“There is no intention on the part of the Government to withhold relevant information from this committee,” she added.
First minister apologises to women ‘failed’ by botched Salmond investigation
Scotland’s first minister has apologised to the two women who were “failed” by her goverment’s botched probe into complaints made against Alex Salmond.
“I am deeply regretful, deeply angry and will always feel incredibly bad for, principally, the two women who were let down, and the wider implications in terms of the cost to the taxpayer,” she told the inquiry.
My colleague Adam Forrest has more details:
SNP leader denies plot against Alex Salmond – and claims he told her ‘his behaviour was not always appropriate’
Sturgeon dismisses Salmond’s claim of plot against him
Nicola Sturgeon has dismissed Alex Salmond’s claim that she was part of a plot made against him.
She told the inquiry that Mr Salmond had been one of her closest friends and had previously been a huge influence on her.
“I had no motive, intention, desire to get Alex Salmond,” she said.
First minister says government had been ‘prepared to meet the moment’
In this morning’s committee hearing at Holyrood, Nicola Sturgeon has reiterated that the Salmond investigation took place in the context of the Me Too movement.
The first minister said the government “had to be prepared to meet the moment” and to take allegations seriously.
She suggested that any aspersions made about the government’s motives were misguided.
Sturgeon condemns Salmond’s behaviour as she defends her role in investigation
First minister Nicola Sturgeon has said Alex Salmond’s words to her about his “deeply inappropriate behaviour” is a “moment in my life that I will never forget”.
She said Mr Salmond’s behaviour “was not always appropriate”, but added that he was acquitted by a criminal court on sexual harassment charges.
The comments came during Ms Sturgeon’s defence of her actions concerning the government investigation into Mr Salmond.
Sturgeon denies team member disclosed identities of two complainants against Salmond
The first minister has denied that one of her team members disclosed the identities of two complainants against Alex Salmond.
Nicola Sturgeon said her predecessor had identified one complainant through his own investigation and that the other was known to him because he had apologised to her for his actions.
“He knew about the identity of one complainant because he knew about the incident, because he had apologised to the person concerned,” she said.
The other he worked out by going through the “Scottish Government Flickr (image-sharing website) account to find out who had been with him on particular days”, according to Ms Sturgeon.
Sturgeon grilled over 2018 meeting
Nicola Sturgeon has been grilled by MSPs about written evidence from the SNP’s former communications director Kevin Pringle.
Mr Pringle confirmed Mr Salmond’s assertion that the name of one of the women making a claim had been revealed to Mr Salmond’s aide by a senior member of Ms Sturgeon’s team at a meeting on 29 March.
Labour MSP Jackie Baillie asked Ms Sturgeon about the claim the identity of the complainer had been revealed. The first minister replied: “I wasn’t [at the meeting]. Therefore I cannot give a direct account.
“What I can say is, the account I have been given, has given me assurances that what is alleged to have happened at didn’t happen in the way that has been described.”
Referring to the senior member of staff accused of revealing the name, Ms Sturgeon: “The clear view of the person being accused of this, is that this didn’t happen.”
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