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Alex Salmond 'astonished' at Nicola Sturgeon's claim of attempted cover-up

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Alex Salmond 'astonished' at Nicola Sturgeon's claim of attempted cover-up

Alex Salmond is said to be “astonished” at Nicola Sturgeon’s claims that he could be angry with her because she refused to collude with him in covering up sexual misconduct complaints against him.

The comments, attributed to a source close to Salmond, came after Sturgeon said that Salmond was angry with her perhaps because she didn’t “collude with him to make these allegations go away”.

Sturgeon made her remarks in an interview on Sophie Ridge on Sunday.

She said: “I think the reason perhaps he is angry with me – and he clearly is angry with me – is that I didn’t cover it up, I didn’t collude with him to make these allegations go away, and perhaps that is at the root of why he is as annoyed as he appears to be.”

Sturgeon’s comments follow the publication of her written evidence to the Holyrood committee charged with investigating what went wrong with the Scottish Government’s handling of harassment complaints against Salmond.

The Scottish Government was found to have acted unlawfully in the way it conducted its 2018 probe of Salmond’s past behaviour and was forced to pay Salmond over £500,000 in legal expenses after a judicial review.

Sturgeon handed over a series of WhatsApp messages between herself and Salmond to the committee along with her version of events upon learning that the Scottish Government was investigating complaints against Salmond.

She made several claims, including to have “forgotten” a key meeting with a Salmond aide who first told her about allegations of a sexual nature in connection with Salmond.

Sturgeon also said that Salmond appeared to have “formed a belief” that she was blocking his requests to handle the allegations via private arbitration rather than Scottish Government procedure.

The two have not spoken since July 2018, she said.

Salmond had previously vowed to reserve his public comments on the matter for his own evidence before the committee.

But following Sturgeon’s TV interview on Sky, a comment attributed to a source close to Salmond was reported in the media.

The source said: “Alex Salmond is not ‘angry’ with the First Minister; just astonished at the ever shifting sands of her story.

“Her claims of an attempted ‘collusion’ are not only untrue but unsupported by the written evidence and directly contradicted by her own previous parliamentary statements.”

The source added: “The First Minister claims to be entirely focused on a health pandemic where people are still dying but is lashing out on television about matters which should properly be dealt with in front of the parliamentary committee established for that very purpose.”

Although Salmond has not yet spoken to the committee or had written evidence published, a series of letters between the committee and his lawyer has been made public.

These include a letter to the committee from a lawyer who said Salmond believes the Scottish Government is attempting “unjustifiably to malign his reputation” while seeking to publish documents “which have been either reduced by the Court of Session (as unlawful), or which would breach the undertaking given by the Government and recorded by the Court”.

The committee itself has expressed “frustration” at the willingness of witnesses to cooperate with its investigation.

Convener Linda Fabiani previously accused the Scottish Government and Salmond of “obstruction”.

She also warned members of the committee against continuing to leak evidence to the media.

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