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by Louise Wilson
28 April 2023
Douglas Ross suggests Nicola Sturgeon Holyrood appearance ‘calculated’ after Colin Beattie comments

Douglas Ross was speaking at the Scottish Tory conference in Glasgow | Alamy

Douglas Ross suggests Nicola Sturgeon Holyrood appearance ‘calculated’ after Colin Beattie comments

Douglas Ross has suggested Nicola Sturgeon’s appearance in parliament this week was orchestrated to distract from comments made by former SNP treasurer Colin Beattie.

The Scottish Conservative leader said that “every decision and action” made by Sturgeon was “calculated”, and her decision to appear in parliament for the first time that day was “very interesting”.

Beattie told journalists on Tuesday that he did not know about the motorhome worth £100,000 purchased by the party. He later clarified that he found out about the purchase after the national accounts were filed for that year.

Later that day, the former first minister appeared in parliament and spoke to reporters for the first time since the arrest of her husband Peter Murrell, former chief executive of the SNP.

Murrell was questioned by police as part of its investigation into the party’s finances and released without charge.

Speaking to journalists after his conference speech in Glasgow, Ross said: “I thought it was very interesting that after a similar event like this with Colin Beattie, which was probably going to lead most of your papers, the former first minister appeared in parliament for the first time.

“I've always thought every decision and action taken by Nicola Sturgeon was calculated and I still believe that to be the case.”

Asked specifically if he believed Sturgeon’s appearance was an attempt to knock Beattie out the headlines, Ross said: “Well, you know, having watched Colin Beattie’s huddle, I could imagine – not being an expert in this area – a number of front pages that had been written with two or three of the stories that he pledged not to give you when he walked up the stairs. And then along came the former first minister, not really expected, and then understandably became the main story.”

The situation currently faced by the SNP was referenced in his speech to delegates multiple times.

He said that Sturgeon’s “legacy lies in tatters”. He said: “We knew that her government and her party, shrouded in secrecy, was not as squeaky clean as they liked to portray. And we were criticised again and again for going against the Holyrood consensus who heaped praise her. But no one is saying we are wrong now.”

He also made a series of policy pledges including backing for a “help to renovate” scheme to support homeowners making energy efficiency improvements, implementing recommendations of a working group on rural GPs, and the creation of a “national college” to support people looking to upskill and reskill.

Commenting on Ross’s claim about Sturgeon, an SNP spokesperson said: “This is nothing more than a desperate diversion from Douglas Ross to distract from his disastrous Tory party conference where he has just been humiliated by his own leader.

“As an elected member of the Scottish Parliament, Nicola Sturgeon was in Parliament this week working for her constituents.”


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