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Labour presses Sturgeon to reveal details of meetings with Salmond over sexual assault allegations

NICOLA STURGEON could be forced to reveal the details of her meetings with Alex Salmond after Labour filed a series of freedom of information requests.

The First Minister is facing questions over several meetings she held with her predecessor, who has been accused of sexually assaulting two members of his staff when he headed the Scottish government.

Mr Salmond denies the allegations and is suing the Scottish government in protest at the complaints procedure under which he has been investigated. The cases, which were reported to the government in January and date back to 2013, have also been referred to the police.

Ms Sturgeon has said there is no legal basis for suspending Mr Salmond’s SNP membership, but she has accepted that the allegations cannot be “swept under the carpet” and must be taken seriously.

After the complaints were revealed in the press, Ms Sturgeon said she had discussed them with her predecessor, under whose premiership and party leadership she served as deputy for many years.

Scottish Labour is now seeking publication of the notes or minutes taken at the meetings, along with correspondence between Ms Sturgeon, Mr Salmond and government and SNP officials regarding the investigation,.

Labour MSP Rhoda Grant said: “The people of Scotland expect full transparency over this most serious of matters, but the SNP government has so far not been forthcoming.

“It is understood that Alex Salmond met the First Minister on multiple occasions to discuss the investigation into allegations of sexual assault made against him.”

Ms Grant said it would be “completely unacceptable” if “basic details” of the meetings were kept under wraps.

“A safe space for any other survivors to come forward cannot be created if survivors know the head of the government investigating their claims is prepared to meet with the alleged perpetrator and refuse to reveal what was said,” she added.

Scottish Tory equalities spokeswoman Annie Wells has written to Scottish government permanent secretary Leslie Evans seeking further information.

"I believe we need to know whether these allegations were ever brought to the attention of the Scottish government prior to January 2018,” she said.

"The Scottish government should instigate an independent review in order to find out the answer.”

Responding for calls for the SNP to suspend Mr Salmond, Ms Sturgeon said: “The limited information I have about the Scottish government investigation cannot at this stage be shared with the party and, rightly, it is the party, not me as leader, that has the power to suspend membership.”

Conrad Landin is Morning Star Scotland editor.


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