Scotland’s Nicola Sturgeon did not break rules, the investigation says

LONDON – Scotland leader Nicola Sturgeon has not violated official rules or misled the Scottish Parliament over an inquiry into her predecessor.

The investigation by a senior Irish lawyer, James Hamilton, followed months of infighting over the role of Ms. Sturgeon in a screwed-up internal investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct against Alex Salmond, a former ally who preceded her as Prime Minister of Scotland.

“I am of the opinion that the Prime Minister has not violated the provisions of the Ministerial Code in respect of any of these matters,” Hamilton’s inquiry concluded, referring to the code of ethics under which members of the Scottish Government operate.

The report culminates in a bitter quarrel between the two dominant figures in recent Scottish politics, a drama that the fate of Ms. Sturgeon dived in, accusing her of misleading lawmakers, breaking rules and even conspiring against her predecessor.

Opposition politicians have called for Ms Sturgeon to resign, and she was under acute pressure earlier this month when she testified for eight hours in a separate committee in a separate inquiry into the same incident.

The clear conclusions of mr. Hamilton appears to be putting an end to the prospect of Sturgeon quitting and means she’s likely to survive a vote of no confidence in the Scottish Parliament if you continue this week.

However, the crisis cast a shadow over the pressure on Scottish independence, as well as the career of Ms. Sturgeon, just as the independence campaign seemed near a breakthrough.

Fueled by a succession of opinion polls showing majority support for independence, Ms. Sturgeon hoped that her Scottish National Party, the largest faction in the Scottish Parliament, would gain an overall majority in elections scheduled for May, and then a second referendum on whether to break her 314-year-old union with England.

In the independence referendum in 2014, 55 per cent of Scottish voters preferred to stay within the UK. But since then, Britain has left the European Union, a deeply unpopular project in Scotland, where 62 per cent voted against Brexit in a 2016 referendum.

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson is not a popular figure in Scotland, unlike Mrs. Sturgeon whose management of the pandemic won her honors.

All the more so because the infighting among Scottish leaders is notable because Ms. Sturgeon the patron of mr. Salmond was and served as deputy for a decade, eventually succeeding him after his resignation in 2014, when Scotland voted against independence.

Like him, she had a reputation for running the Scottish National Party as a disciplined force in which few public differences were broadcast in public.

The unit was broken in a bitter rift over the Scottish Government’s handling of complaints lodged against Salmond in 2018, with allegations of sexual misconduct in 2013. He argued that the internal processes were flawed, his case went to court. taken and won and the Scottish Government pays £ 500,000 – almost $ 700,000 – in legal costs.

Mr. Salmond, who admitted that he was “no angel” and said he wished he was more careful with others’ personal space, always insisted that he was not breaking the law. When the police prosecuted him, Mr. Salmond pleaded not guilty to 13 counts of sexual assault, including one of attempted rape.

The consequences of the verdict in 2020 have grown into a surprisingly complicated but intensely personal battle between the former allies.

As in many political scandals, the accusation for me. Sturgeon the fact that she did not tell the truth – in her case about the sequence of events during the internal investigation of her government into Salmond’s case.

The deception of parliament and the violation of ministerial rules are normally regarded as such serious offenses that it leads to appeals for resignation.

Me. Sturgeon admitted that she did not give the full picture when she said that on April 2, 2018, during the meeting with him at her home, she made the first of the allegations against Mr. Salmond heard. She received a warning earlier on March 29 by his former chief of staff, Geoff Aberdein, she now admits.

Mr. Salmond alleges that Sturgeon offered to intervene in the case at that time. She denies it, but in a parliamentary committee hearing she admitted that she may not have been blunt enough not to intervene because of her long friendship with her former mentor.

In his report, Hamilton describes the failure of Mrs. Sturgeon to call the previous meeting regrettable and something that would be greeted by some with suspicion, or even skepticism.

However, he added: ‘I find it hard to think of a convincing reason why, if she had actually recalled the meeting, she would have deliberately hidden it while having all the conversations with Mr. Salmond. ‘

Mr. Hamilton is a former director of public prosecutions in Ireland, and an independent adviser to the Scottish Government on his ministerial code. However, parts of his report were redirected, which led to complaints from critics of Ms. Sturgeon.

The report of the parliamentary committee on the same event is expected to be more critical of Ms. Be sturgeon, but because the findings are likely to be more influenced by politics, it is unlikely to harm her.

The committee’s report will be published on Tuesday, but according to the leaks, it appears that the opinion was divided among the members over party lines and against me. Sturgeon is tilted with one voice. Last week, she dismissed it as a biased attack.

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