Alex Salmond has launched an extraordinary personal attack on Nicola Sturgeon, describing her testimony to the inquiry into sexual assault claims made against him as “simply untrue”.

In his submission to the inquiry, the former first minister said that Ms Sturgeon had misled
the Scottish parliament and broken the ministerial code which, if he is proven to be correct, would almost certainly spell the end of her political career.

Mr Salmond said that the breaches included a failure to inform the civil service in good time of her meetings with
him, and allowing the Scottish government to contest a civil court case against him despite having had legal advice that it was likely to collapse.
The allegations against Ms Sturgeon, who replaced Mr Salmond as first minister and leader of the SNP after the 2014 independence
referendum, show how far relations have soured between the two most influential figures in the SNP.

The ministerial code says that any meetings about government business should be recorded and that ministers must ensure the government complies with the law. A minister found
to have knowingly misled Holyrood “will be expected to offer their resignation”.
Ms Sturgeon “entirely rejected” Mr Salmond’s claims that she has broken the ministerial code. “We should always remember that the roots of this issue lie in complaints made by women about
Alex Salmond’s behaviour whilst he was first minister, aspects of which he has conceded,” a spokesman for the first minister said.

“It is not surprising therefore that he continues to try to divert focus from that by seeking to malign the reputation of the first minister
and by spinning false conspiracy theories. The first minister is concentrating on fighting the pandemic, stands by what she has said, and will address these matters in full when she appears at committee in the coming weeks.”

Ms Sturgeon has repeatedly dismissed any notion of a
conspiracy against Mr Salmond.
In January 2019, the Scottish government admitted in the Court of Session that its investigation of Mr Salmond had been unlawful, unfair and tainted by apparent bias. Mr Salmond was awarded £512,000 in costs.

After the judgment Ms Sturgeon told
MSPs that she became aware of the government’s investigation of the allegations against Mr Salmond when he told her at a meeting in her Glasgow home on April 2, 2018. It has since emerged that she met Geoff Aberdein, Mr Salmond’s former chief of staff, in her office on March
29, 2018.

In her evidence to the cross-party Holyrood inquiry, Ms Sturgeon said she had forgotten that meeting. “However, from what I recall, the discussion covered the fact that Alex Salmond wanted to see me urgently about a serious matter, and I think it did cover
the suggestion that the matter might relate to allegations of a sexual nature,” she said.
In a submission to the inquiry, obtained by The Times, Mr Salmond said that the meeting had been arranged after Mr Aberdein was told of two allegations, made under a new complaints
procedure set up after the MeToo movement.

He said there “was never the slightest doubt” that the meeting was to discuss the complaints and arrange the April 2 meeting, adding that any other suggestion was “simply untrue”.

“The pre-arranged meeting in the Scottish
parliament of March 29, 2018 was ‘forgotten’ about because acknowledging it would have rendered ridiculous the claim made by the first minister in parliament that it had been believed that the meeting on April 2 was on SNP party business and thus held at her private
residence,” he said.
“All participants in that meeting were fully aware of what the meeting was about and why it had been arranged. The meeting took place with a shared understanding of the issues for discussion — the complaints made and the Scottish government procedure which
had been launched. The first minister’s claim that it was ever thought to be about anything other than the complaints made against me is wholly false.”

Ms Sturgeon has repeatedly said that she took the April 2 meeting with Mr Salmond in her capacity as leader of the SNP,
rather than as first minister, because she thought her predecessor was planning to quit the party.

They had three meetings and two telephone calls about the complaints, but no record of the content of these discussions was kept. Ms Sturgeon told Leslie Evans, the permanent
secretary, of the meetings on June 6 as Mr Salmond said he was preparing to sue the government.
MSPs on the inquiry have been fighting to access and make public the Scottish government’s legal advice. A heavily redacted government memo was released last month showing that
officials had said the case became “unsustainable” after the “degree and nature” of prior contact emerged between the women who complained and Judith Mackinnon, the investigating officer.

The documents appear to show that the extent of that contact became clear on December
21, 2018. A week later, Roddy Dunlop, QC, dean of the Faculty of Advocates, and Christine O’Neill, QC, said that they would quit rather than argue the case in court. Lawyers also gave the government advice on whether there was a problem with Ms Mackinnon’s contact on multiple
occasions dating back to at least October.

Mr Salmond said that “at the very latest, by October 31, 2018, the government and the first minister knew of legal advice . . . that on the balance of probability they would lose the judicial review and be found to have acted
unlawfully.“Despite this the legal action was continued until early January 2019 and was only conceded after both government external counsel threatened to resign from the case which they considered to be unstateable.”

Mr Salmond confirmed today that he had submitted the
evidence to James Hamilton, the independent adviser on the ministerial code who is conducting a separate investigation into Ms Sturgeon. It has also been sent to all members of the Holyrood inquiry.

“It is a matter for Mr Hamilton and committee members what they do with
my evidence but I stand by the contents of the document and I am prepared to do so under oath in front of the committee,” Mr Salmond added.
NOT MY WORDS ! Taken from behind a paywall 😇

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