SNP chief executive Peter Murrell could be hauled back to give fresh evidence to a Holyrood inquiry after “contradictions” were highlighted in his testimony.
The party boss, who is married to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, was accused of undermining his own wife’s submission to the committee following his evidence on Tuesday.
Opposition parties have now demanded that Mr Murrell be recalled to the inquiry, which is investigating the Scottish Government’s botched investigation into allegations against Alex Salmond.
The disputed evidence centred on two meetings held between Ms Sturgeon and Mr Salmond in 2018 in Mr Murrell’s marital home.
His claim that “the issue raised at the time was a Scottish Government matter”, and therefore he did not need to know the reason for the meetings, was said to have “directly contradicted” written evidence Ms Sturgeon submitted to the committee.
The first minister has previously said she had agreed to meet her predecessor because she believed he was about to resign from the SNP, and “as party leader, I considered it important that I knew if this was, in fact, the case in order that I could prepare the party to deal with what would have been a significant issue”.
Mr Murrell also initially stated that he was not at home during the meetings on April 2 and July 14 2018.
However, he later said he did arrive home before the April 2 meeting had concluded, but that he did not discuss the nature of the conversation with his wife afterwards.
‘Half-truths and untruths’
Liberal Democrat committee member Alex Cole-Hamilton said: “If Peter Murrell thinks that half-truths and untruths will convince the committee to give up its inquiries, he is dead wrong.
“The public are not being well served by sneakiness and evasion. With significant doubts now cast over the evidence he gave, Peter Murrell should return to the committee for further questioning.”
Scottish Conservative committee member Murdo Fraser said: “In a shambolic evidence session, Peter Murrell managed to contradict not only Nicola Sturgeon but himself, all in the space of a few hours.
“He tied himself in knots answering the simplest of questions and spoke in riddles.
“The SNP chief executive must return to the committee to clear up the contradictions in his evidence and, this time, provide entirely truthful answers.”
Mr Murrell denied there were contradictions between his evidence and that of Ms Sturgeon regarding the 2018 meetings.
“I think, to be fair, what she sets out in the evidence, is the case of, prior to the meeting, she thought it was a party matter, and once Alex told her what the meeting was about, then it became something else,” he told the committee.