SALMOND INQUIRY: The First Minister lied to Parliament and her husband shares the same casual disregard about telling the truth.

Peter Murrell with his wife, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon – “He replies glibly and seemingly without understanding the gravity of the offence.”

By Conor Matchett  

Demands for Peter Murrell to face an investigation by the Crown Office into potential perjury have intensified following his second appearance in front of the harassment complaints committee.

Both Jackie Baillie and Murdo Fraser have or are planning to write  to the Crown Office to investigate the SNP chief executive’s appearances in front of the committee.

Ms Baillie, pictured right, Scottish Labour’s spokesperson on the inquiry, labelled Mr Murrell’s responses as “obstruction and obfuscation” and “an exercise in spin”.

The interim leader of her party said Mr Murrell’s contempt for the committee was “palpable” and that misleading the committee was “tantamount to attempting to mislead the people of Scotland”.

She said: “Murrell could not explain the nature of his text messages relating to the complaints against Mr Salmond, he could not confirm if he discussed the allegations against Mr Salmond with the First Minister, and he completely failed to refute the allegation that he was present for part of the meeting between the First Minister and Mr [Alex] Salmond in his own home.

“Murrell, despite trying to dance on the head of a pin, effectively conceded that there were other text messages relating to the complaints against Mr Salmond.

“When faced with the charge that he may have misled the committee, Mr Murrell replies glibly and seemingly without understanding the gravity of the offence.

“This obstruction and obfuscation is simply unacceptable and this committee will continue to do all it can to get to the truth.”

It is understood Ms Baillie’s letter demanding an investigation by the Crown Office has been received with a response to be sent in due course.

Murdo Fraser, pictured left, the Scottish Conservative spokesman on the Salmond inquiry, alleged Mr Murrell gave “false evidence” to the committee under oath.

He said: “He gives the impression that he can say whatever he wants with impunity, but in Scotland such actions must surely have consequences.

“The First Minister lied to Parliament and her husband shares the same casual disregard about telling the truth.

“Mr Murrell seems incapable of giving a straight answer. His dismal and shifty performance was a masterclass in evasion.

“What was particularly craven was the attempt to use the female complainers as human shields to deflect the committee from getting the answers the public deserves.”

Responding after the session, Liberal Democrat member of the inquiry, Alex Cole-Hamilton, pictured right, said it was “astonishing” Mr Murrell came “so unstuck” during straight-forward questioning. That was painful to watch.

“Mr Murrell has once again undermined the First Minister’s account of events. She told our committee that she took the meeting with Mr Salmond on 2nd April because she feared he was about to resign the party.

“If that isn’t party business and something she ought to have shared with Murrell, I can’t think what is.

“Again it suggests that Nicola Sturgeon knew precisely what Salmond wanted to see her about in direct contradiction to what she told Parliament.”

The committee is examining the botched handling of harassment complaints against the former first minister by the Scottish Government, which led to a £500,000 legal bill after the government conceded a judicial review challenge on the grounds of the process being “tainted by apparent bias”.

Mr Salmond was also acquitted of sexual offence charges in a trial last year

 

One comment

  1. An extract from Alex Salmond’s sworn testimony that the Scottish Government do not want the public to hear. What are they frightened of. Why do you think they don’t want this testimony to be made public.

    Who do you think made the decision to proceed to the Court of a Session only to lose, to suffer the shame of losing on “ unlawfulness and apparent bias “ . Well read this testimony from Alex Salmond – –

    TESTIMONY EXTRACT.

    25. My desire to avoid damaging and expensive litigation remained. My legal team thereafter offered arbitration as an alternative to putting the matter before the Court of Session. That proposal was designed to offer a quick and relatively inexpensive means of demonstrating the illegality of the procedure in a process which guaranteed the confidentiality of the complainers.It would also have demonstrated the illegality of the process in a forum which would be much less damaging to the Scottish Government than the subsequent public declaration of illegality.

    I was prepared at that time to engage fully with the procedure in the event my legal advice was incorrect. In the event, of course, it was robust. I explained the advantages of such an approach to the First Minister in a Whatsapp message of 5th July 2018.

    26. I received a message via Geoff Aberdein from her Chief of Staff Liz Lloyd (the initial the First Minister has redacted from my relevant WhatsApp message is “L”) on the 13th July 2018 that the First Minister wanted to see me again and we met once again at her house at her request the following day, 14th July 2018. This is shown at Appendix A.

    There was no-one else at this meeting. She specifically agreed to correct the impression that had been suggested to my counsel in discussions between our legal representatives that she was opposed to arbitration. I followed this up with a WhatsApp message on the 16th July 2018.

    27. On 18th July 2018 the First Minister phoned me at 13.05 to say that arbitration had been rejected and suggested that this was on the advice of the Law Officers. She urged me to submit a substantive rebuttal of the specific complaints against me, suggested that the general complaints already answered were of little consequence and would be dismissed, and then assured me that my submission would be judged fairly.

    She told me I would receive a letter from the Permanent Secretary offering me further time to submit such a rebuttal which duly arrived later that day. As it turned out the rebuttal once submitted was given only cursory examination by the Investigating Officer in the course of a single day and she had already submitted her final report to the Permanent Secretary.

    AND THEN AFTER LOSING THIS CASE SOMEONE PUSHED THE BUTTON FOR A DISASTROUS CRIMINAL CASE WHICH WAS ALSO LOST.

    BUT AS SOMEONE SAID ON THE COURT OF SESSION DECISION .. ‘ we may have lost the battle but not the war”

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