Ruth Davidson accused of using Peter Murrell as weapon against First Minister
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has accused the Scottish Conservatives of trying to use SNP chief executive Peter Murrell – her husband – as a “weapon”.
Speaking at First Minister’s Questions on Thursday, Scottish Tory leader in Holyrood, Ruth Davidson, said evidence given by Murrell and Sturgeon about meetings with Alex Salmond “plainly contradicted” each other.
But Sturgeon insisted Murrell had “no role in these meetings” and suggested Davidson was trying to “attack my husband and use him as a weapon against me.”
Murrell appeared before the Holyrood committee investigating the mishandling of complaints made against the former first minister on Tuesday.
He told MSPs that he and Sturgeon had not discussed her meetings with Salmond because they were government business.
Davidson said: “That evidence plainly contradicted the First Minister's own version of events. So, whose story does the First Minister find most believable: Peter Murrell’s or her own?”
Sturgeon replied: “I've already set out the reasons for and circumstances of my meeting with Alex Salmond in written evidence. In a few weeks’ time, I will answer questions in person to the Committee on these matters. And the fact is, only I can do that, only I can say to the circumstances, the reasons for the decisions that I have made.
“The fact of the matter is, my husband had no role in these meetings. He has no role, had no role, in the matters under investigation by the committee.
“Ruth Davidson might want to attack my husband and use him as a weapon against me. People will draw their own conclusions about that, but it doesn't change the basic fact of the matter that he had no role in these issues.”
Davidson suggested it was not “plausible” that Murrell “never asks a single question, then or since” about Sturgeon’s meeting with Salmond on 2 April, which took place at the couple’s home.
She also asked whether Sturgeon had any knowledge of a report of alleged inappropriateness made to Angus Robertson, then SNP Westminster leader, about Salmond in 2009.
Sturgeon said she did not know about these allegations, nor did she speak to Murrell about the meeting. She added: “The fact of the matter is, I am First Minister of Scotland, I deal with confidential matters every single day of my life. These range from national security matters, through to market sensitive commercial matters, and a whole range of things in between.
“I don't gossip about these things, even to my husband. I am the First Minister of the country, not the office gossip, and I take my responsibilities in that role extremely seriously.”
Speaking afterwards, Davidson said: “The First Minister’s repeated references to her husband today were a transparent attempt at deflection and, frankly, were beneath a woman of her professional standing.”