Ethics inquiry clears Scotland’s leader Nicola Sturgeon of wrongdoing

Independent adviser on ministerial standards looked at whether first minister attempted to influence an investigation into Alex Salmond

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - MARCH 22: Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon leaves her home on March 22, 2021 in Glasgow, Scotland. After last week's news that a Scottish parliamentary committee found that the First Minister had misled parliament in her testimony regarding the Alex Salmond misconduct case, Ms Sturgeon is hanging hopes for her vindication on a separate inquiry led by James Hamilton, Ireland's former director of public prosecutions. His report on whether Ms Sturgeon broke the ministerial code, is due in the coming days. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

Scottish leader Nicola Sturgeon did not break a ministerial code of conduct in her handling of sexual harassment complaints against her predecessor Alex Salmond, an independent inquiry ruled.
James Hamilton, Scotland's independent adviser on ministerial standards, examined whether the first minister "attempted to influence the conduct of the investigation" into Mr Salmond and whether Ms Sturgeon misled the Scottish parliament.
"I am of the opinion that the first minister did not breach the provisions of the Ministerial Code in respect of any of these matters," Mr Hamilton said.

Ms Sturgeon welcomed the ruling.

"Mr Hamilton has considered all of the allegations against me, and I am happy that his report's findings clear me of any breach of the ministerial code," she said in a statement.

"I sought at every stage in this issue to act with integrity and in the public interest.

"As I have previously made clear, I did not consider that I had broken the code, but these findings are an official, definitive and independent adjudication of that.

"Prior to its publication, opposition politicians stressed the importance of respecting and accepting the outcome of Mr Hamilton's independent inquiry, and I committed wholeheartedly to doing so.

"Now that he has reported, it is incumbent on them to do likewise."

The SNP leader referred herself for investigation after Mr Salmond successfully challenged the Scottish government's illegal investigation into harassment complaints against him.

In that case, Mr Salmond was awarded £512,250 ($709,846) for his legal costs.

Mr Salmond said the decision to pursue the case was part of a “deliberate, prolonged, malicious and concerted effort" to remove him from public life and even jail him.

Ms Sturgeon dismissed her predecessor's claims as "wild conspiracy theories".
The controversy has turned the pair – Mr Salmond was once Ms Sturgeon's close ally and mentor – into bitter rivals.
The ruling comes ahead of a no-confidence vote on Tuesday, which Ms Sturgeon is expected to survive.
Her Scottish Nationalists are looking to make gains in upcoming elections that could lead to another referendum on independence from the UK.

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