Sturgeon refuses three times to confirm she will resign if found to have breached code

Nicola Sturgeon asked if she will ‘resign’ if breach found

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Nicola Sturgeon faces accusations that she breached the ministerial code by misleading the Scottish Parliament about her relationship with Alex Salmond. During First Minister Questions Jackie Baillie MSP, interim leader of Scottish Labour, repeatedly called upon the SNP leader to confirm whether she would resign over the issue. But Ms Sturgeon, who denies mishandling harassment complaints against the former First Minister, refused to give an answer. 

The Scottish Government’s ministerial code says any minister found to have knowingly misled Holyrood should offer their resignation.

Ms Baillie, who sits on the Holyrood Committee investigating the Alex Salmond affair, said: “The ministerial code exists to protect the public interest,

“To ensure that there is trust between the politicians and the public and for the public to hold the government to account.

“It is therefore critically important.”

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Addressing the First Minister directly she added: “Can I, therefore, ask her if she is found to have breached the ministerial code will she resign?”

Ms Sturgeon replied: “When the outcome of those are published then people can ask me then and I will set out what I intend to do.

“But I do not believe I breached the ministerial code and that is my position right now.

“And I believe I am entitled to due process just like everybody else.”

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Ms Baillie continued to press the First Minister events surrounding a meeting she had with the former SNP leader chief of staff, Geoff Aberdein, in 2018.

She said: “The First Minister attended a meeting here in the Scottish Parliament with Geoff Aberdein, the former chief of staff of Alex Salmond.

“The First Minister claims to have forgotten about that meeting and told the parliament that the meeting with fleeting or opportunistic.

“But it was the case that the meeting was prearranged and for the specific purpose of discussing the complaints made against Alex Salmond.”

“So I ask again if the First Minister is found to have breached the ministerial code will she resign?” asked the interim Scottish Labour leader.

Ms Sturgeon replied: “I don’t believe I did breach the ministerial code and therefore I am not going to engage on the hypothetical.”

The inquiry is taking place after SNP led Scottish Government paid out £500,000 to the former politician after they conceded a judicial review case brought by the former first minister in January 2019.

Ballie accused the government of having “collapsed the review”  and once again asked the First Minister if she would resign if found to have broken the ministerial code.

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The SNP leader, in turn, questioned whether her Labour opposite number was being “open-minded, objective and impartial” regarding the Salmond inquiry

She said: ‘I suspect that for Jackie Baillie and some of the Conservative it doesn’t matter what I say.

“The press releases will already be written.”

She added: “I am well aware of the terms of the ministerial code, probably more aware than Jackie Ballie.”

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