Nicola Sturgeon has challenged Alex Salmond to either provide “proof” of a conspiracy against him or stop making “deeply distressing” claims.
The first minister spoke out ahead of Mr Salmond’s expected appearance on Wednesday at the Holyrood committee investigating the way the Scottish Government handled harassment allegations against him.
Ms Sturgeon attempted to pile the pressure on her predecessor and one-time mentor, saying his appearance would give him an “opportunity” to replace “insinuation and assertion with evidence”.
Speaking to STV News, she said: “This week I think it is an opportunity for Alex Salmond. I hope he will come to the committee on Wednesday.
“He has made claims, or he appears to be making claims or suggestions, that there was some kind of conspiracy against him, or a concerted campaign against him.
'This is the opportunity for him to replace insinuation and assertion with evidence.'
— STV News (@STVNews) February 22, 2021
“There’s not a shred of evidence about that. So this is the opportunity for him to replace insinuation and assertion with evidence.
“I don’t believe he can because I know what he is saying is not true, but the burden of proof is on him, and if he can’t provide that evidence, he should stop making these claims about people because they are not fair and deeply distressing.”
… the burden of proof is on him, and if he can’t provide that evidence, he should stop making these claims about people because they are not fair and deeply distressing.”
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon
Ms Sturgeon was also asked if she would quit as first minister if she was found to have breached the ministerial code in relation to meetings she held with Mr Salmond in 2018.
“I haven’t breached the ministerial code but that is a matter for the independent adviser on the code to determine, and I will robustly refute any suggestions that I have done so, and I’m not going to get ahead of that and talk in a hypothetical sense,” she said.
The SNP leader said she is looking forward to appearing before the Holyrood committee as its final witness, next week.
“In terms of the committee inquiry, I’m actually quite relieved it is getting to this stage – it has been a long time coming,” she said.
“My own appearance before it, I think, has been postponed four or five times.
“So next week hopefully I will get the opportunity to address all of the claims that have been made about me, and subject myself to legitimate scrutiny.”