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Cole-Hamilton calls for probe into ministerial code breaches to be widened

October 12, 2020 6:00 PM
Originally published by Scottish Liberal Democrats

Scottish Liberal Democrat MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton has today filed parliamentary questions asking whether the independent adviser probing alleged breaches of the ministerial code could investigate further alleged breaches relating to incorrect statements made by the First Minister to Parliament.

The First Minister previously said she was first made aware of complaints against her predecessor Alex Salmond when he told her in a meeting at her home on 2nd April 2018.

However, in written evidence to the Committee on the Scottish Government Handling of Harassment Complaints, she said that her meeting with Geoff Aberdein, Mr Salmond's former Chief of Staff on 29th March 2018 included a discussion of "allegations of a sexual nature".

Mr Cole-Hamilton said:

"As it stands the Independent Adviser, James Hamilton, is tasked with investigating alleged ministerial code breaches relating to the series of meetings between the First Minister, her predecessor and his Chief of Staff.

"However, the revelations of recent weeks suggest that the First Minister may also have misled Parliament about what she knew and when. In light of these revelations, which could represent a further breach of the ministerial code, I believe the remit of Mr Hamilton's inquiry should be widened to include these prospective breaches.

"This would allow an independent expert, above the party-political fray, to determine whether the First Minister knowingly didn't tell the truth to our national parliament. If the Scottish Government insist on narrowing the scope of Mr Hamilton's investigations then the public will draw their own conclusions.

"This sorry saga has exposed a culture of secrecy and obstruction, cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of pounds and perhaps most egregiously, damaged confidence in the ability of the Scottish Government to appropriately handle harassment allegations."