Nicola Sturgeon did not breach ministerial code, inquiry finds

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon did not break the ministerial code, an independent inquiry concluded on Monday.

Sturgeon had been under pressure over accusations she had misled the Scottish Parliament during an investigation into sexual assault allegations made against her predecessor Alex Salmond.

But the report, conducted by an independent legal authority James Hamilton, largely exonerated her. “I am not aware of anything in the conduct of the First Minister in respect of the introduction of her observance of the procedure which could be considered to be a breach of the code,” the report read.

Hamilton, a former director of public prosecutions in Ireland, was brought in as an independent adviser on the ministerial code amid a bitter feud between Sturgeon and Salmond, who was last year acquitted in the High Court in Edinburgh of sexual assault charges.

The findings come ahead of a separate parliamentary report, expected tomorrow, on her government’s handling of complaints against Salmond, who has claimed that civil servants and former SNP allies engaged in a “malicious plan” against him.

Seizing on the Hamilton report’s “comprehensive, evidence-based and unequivocal” findings, Sturgeon 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 official, definitive and independent adjudication of that.”

The Scottish first minister said it was now “incumbent on” opposition politicians to respect the outcome of the probe. Scottish voters are due to go to the polls on May 6.



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