Sturgeon fires back at Salmond, says he is peddling ‘dangerous conspiracy theories’

On top of this it appears Salmond was to appear in front of a parliamentary committee but it was scrapped because his evidence was censored by the crown office. Un-freakin-believable.

The Spectator, if you remember, had already published Salmond‘s evidence online some weeks ago, why is it not okay for the Scottish Parliament to do the same thing? Something doesn’t smell right.

We’ve gone from Scottish Independence being a formality to Sturgeon’s position being on the line, after seeing weak opposition from Labour down in Westminster its no wonder that the Tories are laughing.

Full article from the Times below…

Nicola Sturgeon has accused Alex Salmond, her former political mentor, of peddling “dangerous conspiracy theories” about her government as a battle at the heart of the SNP becomes increasingly toxic.

Salmond, her predecessor as party leader and first minister, was due to appear before a committee of MSPs today, but withdrew after his written submissions were censored after an intervention by the Crown Office, the body responsible for prosecuting crime in Scotland.

He said the move was “astonishing” and asked his lawyers to seek answers about the “unprecedented and highly irregular actions”.

Asked at her daily coronavirus briefing whether her government was engaged in “a cover-up”, Sturgeon said: “Let’s all be careful here, let’s not sign up to false, damaging conspiracies that have no basis in fact, that start to unfairly undermine trust in our public institutions.

“The idea that any decision of the Crown Office to uphold or enforce the law is politically driven or influenced is just downright wrong. Nobody who is responsible should be making that claim.”

Sturgeon repeated her assertion that there is not “a shred of evidence” to support Salmond’s claim that there was a “malicious and concerted” attempt to see him removed from public life involving claims of sexual harassment while he was first minister.

Last March, Salmond was acquitted of 13 charges of sexual assault in a criminal trial, having previously been awarded a £512,250 payout after he successfully challenged the lawfulness of a government investigation.

In his written evidence to the committee investigating the handling of the complaints against him, Salmond has already condemned Sturgeon and her entourage, naming “for the avoidance of doubt” her husband, Peter Murrell, the chief executive of the SNP, and some of her closest political allies as the very people who had sought to bring him down.

In a written submission, Salmond addressed the “question of conspiracy”.

He said: “I am very clear in my position that the evidence supports a deliberate, prolonged, malicious and concerted effort amongst a range of individuals within the Scottish government and the SNP to damage my reputation, even to the extent of having me imprisoned.”

Salmond is expected to appear at the committee on Friday after negotiations between his lawyers and the Scottish parliament.

In a statement this morning, his spokesman drew attention to a television interview Sturgeon gave on Monday, before the publication of Salmond’s submission, in which she announced “there was no evidence of wrongdoing on her government’s part”.

That evening, the letter went on, “after publication on the parliamentary website the Crown Office intervened, which led to redaction of substantial sections of some of the very evidence the first minister claimed did not exist”.

Speaking to the Scottish Parliament this afternoon, James Wolffe, the lord advocate, said redactions had been made after a High Court order, handed down to protect the anonymity of complainers in the trial last year.

Salmond’s supporters have drawn attention to the fifth of five redactions, which appears to have little relation to last year’s trial.

It relates to a meeting on April, 2, 2018, which Sturgeon previously told the Scottish Parliament was the first time she heard of the allegations against Salmond.

In the redacted text he said, the statement is “untrue and a breach of the ministerial code”. The issue is critical, because if the first minister was found to have lied to parliament, she would come under heavy pressure to resign.

While many legal experts believe Salmond and his supporters are wrong to impugn the neutrality of the lord advocate, many are surprised by the redaction.

Robert Black, emeritus professor of Scots Law at Edinburgh University, said. “There is no way that the unredacted version could be said to risk identification of the women [in the Salmond trial].”