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by Jack Thomson
26 February 2021
Salmond: FM broke ministerial code but it’s not for me to suggest consequences

Salmond: FM broke ministerial code but it’s not for me to suggest consequences

Alex Salmond has said he has no doubt Nicola Sturgeon has broken the ministerial code but added it's not for him to say if she should resign.

The former first minister was responding to a series of questions posed by Murdo Fraser at the committee investigating the Scottish Government's handling of complaints against him.

Fraser cited Salmond's written evidence to the Holyrood inquiry on 17 February, in which he said: "The real cost to the Scottish people runs into many millions of pounds and yet no-one in this entire process has uttered the simple words which are necessary on occasions to renew and refresh democratic institutions - 'I Resign'."

The Conservative MSP then asked: "Who should resign?"

Salmond told the committee that, in his opinion, the Permanent Secretary should have considered her position on 8 January, 2019 - the date the government's internal probe had been found to be "unlawful" and "tainted with apparent bias".

He said of the Permanent Secretary: "Yes, she should have considered her position then and no doubt she can await the findings of this inquiry but if you're asking my opinion, yes she should."

Salmond also said the Lord Advocate "should be considering his position for this and a range of other issues."

However, the former first minister told Fraser: "Many people whose opinions might be closer to yours, much closer to yours, than mine have been using this argument to say 'the institutions, there's something wrong with them, Scotland is almost a failed state'.

"That's not the view I take. I take the view that the institutions fundamentally are sound but there has to be some form of political responsibility. Institutions have to be refreshed from time to time."

On the issue of whether the First Minister should resign - if she was found to have broken the ministerial code - Salmond would not be drawn.

He said: "It's not the case that every minister who breaks the ministerial code resigns. Your own party can have an example of that relatively recently. It depends on what is found and the degree by which the ministerial code has been broken.

“I've got no doubt that Nicola has broken the ministerial code, but it's not for me to suggest what the consequences should be. It's for the people who are judging that, including this committee."

The Holyrood inquiry is tasked with figuring out what went wrong with the Scottish Government’s investigation into harassment complaints against Salmond.

Separately, an inquiry is ongoing over whether Sturgeon broke the ministerial code over her 2018 meetings with Salmond about the probe and statements she made about them to parliament.

The First Minister is expected to appear at the harassment complaints committee on Wednesday.

Read the most recent article written by Jack Thomson - Nicola Sturgeon tells PM independence referendum is a 'matter of when – not if'

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