LONDONR’s director in Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, did not knowingly violate official rules or defraud the Scottish Parliament over an investigation by her predecessor, an investigation completed on Monday, clearing her of allegations so serious that they had caused calls for her resignation.
The investigation by a senior Irish lawyer, James Hamilton, followed months of conflict over the role of Ms. The Sturgeons in an internal investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct made against Alex Salmond, a former close ally who preceded her as Scotland’s first minister.
I am of the opinion that the First Minister has not violated the provisions of the Ministerial Code in relation to any of these matters, concluded Mr Hamilton’s investigation, referring to the code of ethics under which members of the Scottish Government operate.
The report culminates in a bitter feud between two dominant figures in recent Scottish politics, a drama that has damaged Ms.’s wealth. The Sturgeons, causing allegations that she had defrauded lawmakers, had broken the rules and even conspired against her predecessor.
Opposition politicians had demanded Ms Sturgeons’s resignation and she was under sharp pressure earlier this month when she testified for eight hours in a parliamentary committee in a special inquiry into the same events.
Mr. Hamilton’s clear conclusions seem to put an end to any prospect of Ms. Sturgeon and means she is likely to survive a no-confidence vote in the Scottish Parliament if it continues this week.
However the crisis has cast a shadow over the pressure for Scottish independence as well as Ms.’s career. The Sturgeons, just like the independence campaign seemed close to a breakthrough.
Shocked by a series of opinion polls showing majority support for independence, Ms. Sturgeon hoped her Scottish National Party, the largest faction in the Scottish Parliament, would win an overall majority in the elections scheduled for May and then call for a second referendum on whether to disrupt the unification of its seats 314 -year with England.
In the 2014 independence referendum, 55 per cent of Scottish voters favored staying within the UK. But since then, Britain has left the European Union, a deeply unpopular project in Scotland, where 62 per cent voted against Brexit in a 2016 referendum.
The Prime Minister of the Britains, Boris Johnson, is not a popular figure in Scotland unlike Mrs. Sturgeon, whose management for the pandemic has earned her recognition.
The quarrels between the Scottish leaders are increasingly extraordinary because Mrs. Sturgeon was Mr. Salmonds and served as his deputy for a decade, succeeding him eventually following his resignation in 2014, when Scotland voted against independence.
Like him, she had a reputation for leading the Scottish National Party as a disciplined force in which few public differences were transmitted to the public.
This unity has been shattered in a fierce rift over the handling of Scottish government complaints made against Mr Salmond in 2018, alleging sexual misconduct in 2013. He argued that the internal processes were flawed, took his case to court. sued and won, forcing the Scottish Government to pay $ 500,000 nearly $ 700,000 in legal costs.
Mr. Salmond, who has admitted that he is not an angel and said he would have been more careful with the personal space of other peoples, always insisted that he did not break the law. When police prosecuted him, Mr Salmond pleaded not guilty to 13 counts of sexual assault, including one for attempted rape.
The consequences of this decision in 2020 have escalated into a surprisingly complex but intensely personal battle between the former allies.
As in many political scandals, the most damaging accusation against Ms. Sturgeon was the failure to tell the truth in her case, regarding the sequence of events during her governments that prompted the internal investigation into Mr. Salmonds’s case.
Fraud of Parliament and breach of ministerial rules are normally considered serious violations leading to calls for resignation.
Mrs. Sturgeon has admitted that she did not give the full picture when she said she first heard about the allegations against Mr Salmond on April 2, 2018, during a meeting with him at her home. In fact, she was given an earlier warning by his former chief of staff, Geoff Aberdein, on March 29, she now accepts.
Mr. Salmond claims that, at that stage, Ms. Sturgeon offered to intervene in the matter. She denies it, but at a parliamentary committee hearing she admitted she may not have been open enough not to intervene, due to her long friendship with her former mentor.
In his report, Mr. Hamilton described Ms. Sturgeons’ failure to cite the previous meeting as regrettable and something to be expected with suspicion, even skepticism, by some.
However, he added, I find it hard to think of any compelling reason why, if she had actually recalled the meeting, she would have deliberately concealed it while revealing all the conversations she had had with Mr Salmond.
Mr Hamilton is a former director of public prosecutors in Ireland and an independent adviser to the Scottish Government on its ministerial code. Parts of his report were edited, however, prompting complaints from Ms.’s critics. Sturgeons.
The parliamentary committee report on the same event is expected to be more critical of Ms. Sturgeon, but, because his findings are likely to be seen as more politically influenced, they are unlikely to seriously harm her.
The committee report is scheduled to be published on Tuesday but, according to leaks, opinion among its members seems to be divided along party lines, leaning against Ms. Sturgeon with one vote. Last week she dismissed it as a partisan attack.
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