Behind the scenes

Rulebook change raises ‘serious questions’ for Sturgeon

Wording altered just weeks after allegations first made against Alex Salmond

A rule that would have meant Nicola Sturgeon was informed immediately of harassment claims within the Scottish National Party (SNP) was altered weeks after allegations were made against Alex Salmond, it has emerged.

Initial policy drafts from November 2017 - when complaints about Salmond’s behaviour were first raised with the SNP - relating to dealing with staff issues stated that Sturgeon should be told about any accusations that involved former ministers.

However, in a “key change”, the wording was altered a month later to state she should only be informed about an investigation after it was completed, The Scottish Sun reports - raising “serious questions” over what she knew and when.

The first minister is facing growing scrutiny over whether she misled the public and MSPs by saying that she only found out about the internal probe in April 2018.

Critics are sceptical about that claim, with Liberal Democrat MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton telling The Scotsman that Sturgeon had signed off on a procedure that “insulated her from the process playing out just outside her office”.

Jackie Baillie, a Labour MSP, added: “These revelations demand straight answers from the first minister.”

Salmond is due to give evidence on Wednesday to the ongoing inquiry into the investigation of the harassment claims against him. He is expended to accuse the government of overseeing a “pantomime of deception and secrecy” when he delivers his “explosive evidence”, the Daily Record says.

A jury at the High Court in Edinburgh last year found the former first minister not guilty of 12 charges of attempted rape, sexual assault and indecent assault, and returned a not proven verdict on a charge of sexual assault with intent to rape.

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