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Salmond and Sturgeon must stop ‘knocking hell out of each other in public’

Laura Paterson, PA Scotland
·2 min read

A former first minister for Scotland has said Nicola Sturgeon and Alex Salmond must stop “knocking hell out of each other in public”.

Labour’s Henry McLeish said there is “no serious path” to the current First Minister’s resignation.

Giving evidence at the Scottish Parliament committee inquiry into the Scottish Government’s botched investigation into allegations of sexual harassment against him last week, Alex Salmond said there was “no doubt” his successor as first minister broke the ministerial code but stopped short of saying she should resign.

Harassment allegation committee hearing
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon giving evidence to the Committee on the Scottish Government Handling of Harassment Complaints (Jeff J Mitchell/PA)

Appearing before the committee on Wednesday, Ms Sturgeon rejected his accusations and said she felt “let down” by his “absurd” claims of a plot of SNP figures against him.

The committee was set up after a successful judicial review by Mr Salmond resulted in the Scottish Government’s investigation being ruled unlawful and “tainted by apparent bias”, with a £512,250 payout being awarded to him for legal fees in 2019.

He was acquitted of 13 charges of sexual assault following a criminal trial last year.

A separate inquiry is investigating if Ms Sturgeon breached the ministerial code, which she denies.

The Scottish Conservatives have said they have lodged votes of no confidence in Ms Sturgeon and Deputy First Minister John Swinney, though there is no timescale for these to be debated.

Mr McLeish told BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme: “The First Minister, I think, has rebutted most of the challenges, the assertions, the allegations that have been made.

“In my view there is no serious path to the First Minister either resigning or suffering with a vote of no confidence in the parliament.

“What we should be doing now is for both the committee of inquiry at Holyrood and the separate inquiry into the breach of the ministerial code to be completed as soon as possible, get on with the election and get Scotland back to some normality.

“That’s a long shot in a way but we can’t continue to see two distinguished, prestigious people knocking hell out each other in public – that’s got to be left behind.

“I hope at the end of all of this the parliament and the government learn lessons. That’s the important thing. There are reforms required and that should be the first priority after we get this initial mess sorted out.”

Mr McLeish became first minister in 2000 but had to resign the position just over a year later having become embroiled in an expenses row about a failure to declare subletting a floor in his Glenrothes office – dubbed Officegate.