A piece in today’s Times:
Key evidence from Nicola Sturgeon to the Alex Salmond inquiry has been contradicted by sworn testimony from her husband, the SNP chief executive.
Peter Murrell said he was unaware that in meetings between the first minister and her predecessor the two had discussed Mr Salmond’s alleged harassment of two female civil servants because it was government business.
Ms Sturgeon had told parliament that those meetings, of which no records were taken, were held in her capacity as party leader and were therefore not a matter of state.
The ministerial code demands that meetings undertaken on government business should be recorded. Under the code a minister found to have knowingly misled parliament is expected to offer their resignation.
Mr Murrell appeared yesterday before the Holyrood inquiry examining the government’s handling of complaints against Mr Salmond. The investigation was ruled unlawful, unfair and “tainted by apparent bias” by the Court of Session.
Questioned under oath by Murdo Fraser, the Scottish Conservative MSP, Mr Murrell said he was not informed about the details of the meeting at the home he shares with Ms Sturgeon on April 2, 2018. Crucially the first minister had told MSPs that she became aware of her government’s investigation into Mr Salmond at this meeting.
It has since emerged that she had been warned of the complaints by Geoff Aberdein, Mr Salmond’s former chief of staff, in her Holyrood office four days earlier. Ms Sturgeon claims she had forgotten about it.
“The issue that was raised with Nicola at the time was a Scottish government matter and Scottish government business is not for me,” Mr Murrell said.
“Every single day, Scottish government business is not relayed to me on a daily basis. There’s a very confidential process. She’s been a minister for a very long time and we just don’t talk about government business.”
He said that when the couple had “precious time together” they rarely discussed work or politics. “So when she says that she can’t talk about something that’s the end of it,” he said.
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