A piece in yesterday’s Telegraph:
Nicola Sturgeon was on Thursday struggling to contain a growing SNP rebellion after she was accused of using “weasel words” to question the innocence of Alex Salmond.
Jim Sillars, a former deputy leader of the party, lodged a formal complaint that the First Minister had breached the ministerial code with comments she made in a press briefing on Wednesday.
Ms Sturgeon launched an outspoken attack on her predecessor, claiming his conduct towards women, rather than the conspiracy he has alleged, were the “root” of claims against him.
She added that just because he had been cleared of criminality, “that doesn’t mean that the behaviour [women] complained of didn’t happen.”
Mr Sillars, an ex-MP, said that in six decades in public life, he could not recall another occasion when a political leader had “so egregiously questioned the verdict of a jury”.
Meanwhile, Alex Neil, a former senior SNP cabinet minister who served in the administrations of both Mr Salmond and Ms Sturgeon, called for secret documents about the Salmond affair which are being withheld by the Scottish Government and Crown Office to be made public.
If they prove Mr Salmond’s claims of a conspiracy, as the former First Minister claims they will, all those involved should “get their jotters”, meaning resign or be sacked, Mr Neil claimed.
In a third intervention, Kenny MacAskill, the SNP MP and former justice secretary, said “some removals from office are long overdue” at the Crown Office, which caused controversy this week after it successfully pressured Holyrood into censoring sections of Mr Salmond’s written evidence.
At Holyrood on Thursday, Ms Sturgeon was told that “something rotten at the core of the SNP” was “poisoning” the country’s democratic institutions. She was also accused of presiding over a “culture of secrets and cover-up” and trashing Scotland’s reputation to save her own skin.
Mr Salmond is due to give long-awaited evidence to a Holyrood inquiry on Friday afternoon, in which he is expected to expand on his claims that Ms Sturgeon repeatedly broke the ministerial code in her handing of sexual harassment complaints against him.
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