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Notes of Nicola Sturgeon meetings about abuse scandal lost

Labour MSP blasts ‘laughable’ claim that minutes were not taken during legal discussions

Records of two meetings attended by Nicola Sturgeon and senior government lawyers about the Alex Salmond sexual abuse allegations have been lost, the first minister’s deputy has claimed.

John Swinney, the deputy first minister of Scotland, yesterday told the inquiry into the handling of the claims against Salmond that “we have not identified any record of minutes having been prepared or previously held by the Scottish government”.

The lost notes refer to a meeting attended by Sturgeon, Scotland’s most senior civil servant Leslie Evans and the Scottish government’s legal counsel on 2 and 13 November 2018 during which “Salmond’s legal challenge to the investigation of sexual misconduct claims against him” was discussed, The Telegraph reports.

Asked whether inquiries had been made into whether the lawyers present held any notes from the meeting, Swinney replied that only “a small number” of emails exist that indicate that “adjustments to the pleadings for the judicial review” were discussed.

Responding to Swinney’s claim that the minutes were either lost or never existed, Jackie Baillie, the deputy leader of the Scottish Labour Party and a member of the inquiry, said that it was “frankly laughable” to suggest that no notes would have been taken. 

Ahead of what the Daily Mail describes as a “dramatic vote of no confidence” in Swinney tabled by the Scottish Conservatives for this afternoon, Baillie added that Labour MSPs would have “no choice” but to back the motion if no further information was forthcoming.

However, the paper adds that the “pro-independence” Scottish Greens may have “saved Swinney from having to resign after stating they would oppose the motion”. The party said that the vote was a “Tory plot” to try and claim a “political scalp”.

The vote comes “amid fury at the refusal to release full legal advice” given to Sturgeon over the handling of the investigation into Salmond, the Daily Mail adds. The first minister has repeatedly “denied breaking the ministerial code by defying lawyers and continuing to fight a judicial review brought by her predecessor”.

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