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Five questions Nicola Sturgeon needs to answer

Five questions Nicola Sturgeon needs to answer
Nicola Sturgeon (photo: Getty)
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After the government published emails showing it continued a doomed legal fight with Alex Salmond despite warnings from their own lawyers that they would likely lose, Nicola Sturgeon is facing calls to resign. While the Scottish Conservatives are calling for a no-confidence vote in the First Minister, an SNP spokesperson has hit back – saying it is 'utterly irresponsible' to do so before hearing a single word of evidence from Sturgeon who is due to give evidence to a Holyrood inquiry looking into her government's 2018 harassment investigation of Salmond.

So, with Sturgeon's job on the line, what does the First Minister need to say in order to cling on? Mr S has compiled a list of the questions Sturgeon must answer:

1. What was Sturgeon told in her March 2018 meeting with Geoff Aberdein?

    Sturgeon says she found out about allegations made against Salmond in April 2018. If so, what went on in the secret meeting that took place in her office in March 2018 with Alex Salmond’s former chief of staff, Geoff Aberdein? They said they discussed ‘allegations of a sexual nature’. But she then claimed to have forgotten about the meeting – saying it 'never held any significance' – with Sturgeon omitting the meeting from statements and answers in the Scottish Parliament. If this was the first time Sturgeon had heard the claims, wouldn't it count as memorable?

    2. What did Sturgeon know before the secret meeting?

      The First Minister claims the meeting with Aberdein was 'fleeting' and happened because he was visiting a colleague and popped in to see her. However, Salmond has given evidence suggesting the meeting was pre-arranged and he knew of it the day before it happened. If so, why is there no record of a meeting in her office discussing a government investigation? Or, did she know about it before the meeting?

      3. What did Sturgeon know about Salmond and when?

      It has also been reported that in November 2017 Sky News approached the SNP about an alleged incident involving Salmond years earlier. Sturgeon is said to have discussed the allegation with her chief of staff, Liz Lloyd. What did she know then?

      4. Did the government waste taxpayer money?

      Despite a legal challenge from Salmond, the Scottish government defended its investigation into allegations made against him (of which he was acquitted of in a criminal court). Now legal advice published on Tuesday has found that senior counsel said the ‘least worst option’ would have been to admit defeat. Shouldn't the government have accepted this advice rather than continued to spend taxpayers' money?

      5. Did her office leak information about complainers?

      In new documents released on Tuesday two key SNP figures, Duncan Hamilton and Kevin Pringle, corroborated Salmond’s claim that the identity of a complainant was shared with Salmond’s chief of staff. Did Sturgeon’s office pass this information on to Salmond? And if not, why are at least two witnesses prepared to testify that Salmond's chief of staff was given this information?

      Written bySteerpike

      Steerpike is The Spectator's gossip columnist, serving up the latest tittle tattle from Westminster and beyond. Email tips to steerpike@spectator.co.uk.

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