Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Sturgeon defends chief of staff after David Davis’s ‘interference’ claim

Sturgeon Davis
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon before giving evidence to the Committee on the Scottish Government Handling of Harassment Complaints.

Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, has said she “refutes” claims that her chief of staff, Liz Lloyd, interfered in the investigation of Alex Salmond.

Using parliamentary privilege in the House of Commons, Conservative MP David Davis read out messages that he suggested showed a “concerted effort by senior members of the SNP to encourage complaints” against the former first minister.

According to Mr Davis, the messages disclosed by a whistleblower “demands serious investigation”, with one alleging the investigating officer in the case complained of interference by Ms Sturgeon’s chief of staff.

The message is alleged to have been sent by Judith Mackinnon to the government’s communications director on February 6 2018, almost two months before the First Minister claims to have first known about the investigation of her predecessor.

I strongly refute the suggestions and insinuations of David Davis in the House of Commons last night.”

Nicola Sturgeon

Mr Davis said: “The investigating officer complained ‘Liz interference v bad’ – I assume that means very bad.

“If true, this suggests the chief of staff had knowledge of the Salmond case in February, not in April, as she has claimed on oath.

David Davis MP made claims in the Commons Nicola Sturgeon has rejected.

“The First Minister also tied herself to that April date in both parliamentary and legal statements.

“She was of course aware earlier than that: the question is, just how aware and how much earlier?”

‘I’m going to get on with my job’

Challenged about the claims during the Scottish Government’s coronavirus briefing on Wednesday, Ms Sturgeon insisted she has confidence in her chief of staff and she “strongly” denies the allegations.

Ms Sturgeon said: “Other than to say that I strongly refute (sic) the suggestions and insinuations of David Davis in the House of Commons last night, I am not going to have this Covid briefing sidetracked by the latest instalment of Alex Salmond’s conspiracy theory.

Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon in 2014.

“I have given eight hours of evidence to the parliamentary committee looking into this.

“They are now able to assess all of the evidence they’ve taken, including, I’m sure, the evidence they have in relation to the suggestions and claims made by David Davis last night.

“They have a job of work to do, now, I’m going to allow them to do that job of work and, in the meantime I’m going to get on with my job.”

‘Possibly a criminal offence’

The Committee on the Scottish Government Handling of Harassment Complaints was set up after a successful judicial review by Mr Salmond resulted in the Scottish Government’s investigation being ruled unlawful and “tainted by apparent bias”, with a £512,250 payout being awarded to him for legal fees in 2019.

In the Commons on Tuesday evening, Mr Davies also accused the Scottish Government of obstructing the Holyrood inquiry into the saga, adding: “This was a Government that actively withheld important, relevant information.

“In one case a critically relevant email was actively removed from an information bundle that was going to the court and which had already been approved by government counsel. I don’t know who took that email out – I have it here.

“I don’t know who took it out, I don’t know who gave the instruction. But in my view the removal of that document would be a summary dismissal offence, and possibly a criminal offence. At the very least it would be in contempt of court.

Lord Advocate James Wolffe.

“And yet over his three evidence sessions the Lord Advocate, the chief law officer of Scotland, did not see fit to mention this crucial incident to a parliamentary committee trying to get to the truth. It only came to light just 10 days ago when the government was forced to publish its legal advice.”

Asked about the apparent withdrawal of the document, Ms Sturgeon argued it was part of a “conspiracy theory”.

Earlier, a spokesman for Ms Sturgeon said: “As with Mr Salmond’s previous claims and cherry-picking of messages, the reality is very different to the picture being presented.

“Every message involving SNP staff has been seen by the committee previously. Their views have been widely reported as dismissive of them.”

Already a subscriber? Sign in



More from the Press and Journal Scottish politics team

More from the Press and Journal