Thursday, 22 Oct 2020

Nicola Sturgeon reads out private Alex Salmond messages to dispel ‘conspiracy’ theories

Nicola Sturgeon has read out messages with Alex Salmond in a bid to prove she did not “cover up” serious allegations of sexual misconduct against him. Mr Salmond was cleared in court earlier this year of 13 sexual assault charges.

The Scottish first minister denied she was withholding evidence from an inquiry examining the government’s handling of an investigation into her predecessor’s behaviour.

She told Sky News she understood that it was better for Mr Salmond for people to think “there was a big conspiracy against him”,

And in comments that will turn up the heat on an already tense row with her friend and mentor of 30 years, Ms Sturgeon said the problem was “age-old”.

She explained it was a case of “man accused of misconduct against a woman” with a woman who then “ends up answering for them”.

Mr Salmond was cleared of 13 charges of sexual assault, attempted rape and indecent exposure at the High Court in Edinburgh in March 2020.

An investigation is now under way by the Scottish Parliament into the government’s handling of the complaints against Mr Salmond, who was later awarded £500,000 in legal costs after the government admitted in court that the inquiry had not been conducted properly.

Asked on Sophy Ridge On Sunday about a report that allies of Mr Salmond claimed Ms Sturgeon was withholding some messages from evidence, she said she had “nothing to hide”.

She said she messaged him on 5 November (understood to be 2017) in response to a Sky News query about his conduct, asking: “Hi, when are you free to speak this morning?”

He replied “10am”, she continued.

Ms Sturgeon said she followed it up with an “any developments?” message later and then another asking “you free for a word?” the following day.

“So, I’m setting up a conversation that I have told the parliamentary inquiry about, it’s hardly a big revelation,” she told Sky News.

She added: “I can understand why people in my party might want an alternative explanation for all of this… At every stage I have tried to do the right thing and not cover it up.

“I think the reasons perhaps why he is angry with me – and he clearly is angry with me – is that I didn’t cover it up… Perhaps that is at the root of why he is as annoyed as he appears to be.”

And Ms Sturgeon added: “From what I’ve read on the committee’s website, one person who hasn’t put forward evidence to the inquiry yet is Mr Salmond himself. I have, the Scottish government has, so we will continue to be cooperative and do what the committee asks of us.”

Sky News has contacted Mr Salmond for a response but none was received at the time of publication.

He has previously called the legal action against him a “nightmare” and thanked his friends and family for “standing by me over the last two years”. Mr Salmond has always denied any form of misconduct.

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