| 23 February 2024, Friday |

The Hamilton inquiry into Nicola Sturgeon explained

Accusations that Nicola Sturgeon may have breached the ministerial code have been investigated by an independent adviser to the Scottish Government.

James Hamilton QC has been looking into whether the First Minister broke the rules governing ministerial conduct and misled the Scottish Parliament.

On Monday, he concluded that Ms Sturgeon did not breach the ministerial code in relation to the four allegations he investigated.

His work is separate from that of a committee of MSPs who have been examining the Government’s handling of harassment complaints made against former first minister Alex Salmond.

Following Mr Salmond’s successful legal challenge of the Scottish Government’s procedure, which led to him being awarded £512,250 for legal costs, Ms Sturgeon referred herself to the independent adviser on the ministerial code.

A key part of the investigation is the timing of when Ms Sturgeon knew about the complaints made against Mr Salmond and if parliament was properly informed.

Mr Salmond said his successor made “false and manifestly untrue” statements to MSPs several times.

Ms Sturgeon initially told Holyrood she first heard of the sexual misconduct complaints against her predecessor when they met at her home on April 2 2018.

But it later emerged she discussed the allegations with Mr Salmond’s chief of staff, Geoff Aberdein, in her Holyrood office four days earlier.

Ms Sturgeon said she had forgotten the contents of her discussion with Mr Aberdein and it was her meeting with Mr Salmond which was “seared on her memory”.

Mr Hamilton examined the allegation that parliament was misled and found there was no breach of the ministerial code.