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The Telegraph

‘Hard to believe’ Sturgeon did not know of concerns about Salmond’s alleged behaviour earlier – leaked report

The Alex Salmond inquiry has concluded it is “hard to believe” Nicola Sturgeon did not know earlier of concerns about her mentor’s alleged behaviour towards women. Further leaks from the inquiry’s report, due to be published on Tuesday, concluded that “if she did have such knowledge, she has misled the committee.” Ms Sturgeon has claimed the first concerns she ever heard came when she was informed about a media inquiry in Nov 2017 involving allegations about his behaviour towards female Edinburgh Airport staff. Ms Sturgeon was his deputy for a decade, including seven years as Deputy First Minister in his Government. He has previously said he was “no saint” but insisted that he had never “sexually harassed anyone.” Mr Salmond was cleared of all criminal charges of sexual misconduct, alleged to have taken place between 2008 and 2014, at his trial last year. The latest leak follows the disclosure the committee voted by a five to four majority that Ms Sturgeon gave an “inaccurate” account of a meeting with Mr Salmond at her home, and therefore misled parliament. Ms Sturgeon has described the news as a “very partisan leak” from the inquiry and said it was “not that surprising”. She alleged some opposition members of the committee had made up their minds even before she gave evidence. A separate inquiry by James Hamilton QC into whether she broke the ministerial code – usually a resignation matter – is due to report shortly. If that finds she broke the code, Ms Sturgeon has indicated she will refuse to resign and instead argue the Scottish people should decide whether she continues in office in May’s Holyrood election. But Sir Keir Starmer on Thursday highlighted her foreword to the Scottish ministerial code, which concludes: “I will lead by example in following the letter and spirit of this Code, and I expect that Ministers and civil servants will do likewise.” Speaking on a visit to Glasgow, the Labour leader said it would be “incredibily serious” if the Holyrood inquiry report suggested she had misled parliament and potentially breached the code. He said: “Obviously the focus is very much on the individual, Nicola Sturgeon, but actually it is bigger than that: it is about the integrity of the Scottish Parliament, the integirity of the office of First Minister, and standards in public life. “The code is important, the code is explicit, and the expectation has to be if there is a breach of the code, and I say if, then there should be a resignation.” Citing Ms Sturgeon’s foreword, he added: “So she has set high standards and now she needs to live up to those high standards.” Asked about the First Minister’s dismissal of the inquiry’s conclusion as “partisan”, Sir Keir said: ““The right thing for her to do is to wait for the report to read the report as we all will. But to say now, several days beforehand, what she’s said about the outcome is to do exactly what she’s accusing other people of doing.”

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