In her written evidence to the Holyrood committee, Ms Sturgeon claimed she had “forgotten” about a meeting on March 29, 2018, with Mr Salmond’s former chief of staff Geoff Aberdein, where it was mentioned the former First Minister wanted to meet to discuss “allegations of a sexual nature”. Ms Sturgeon had previously said she was first made aware of complaints against her predecessor when he told her in a meeting at her Glasgow home on April 2, 2018.
Mr Salmond was cleared of 13 charges of sexual assault, attempted rape and indecent exposure at the High Court in Edinburgh in March 2020.
The court case followed legal action taken by Mr Salmond, which found the Scottish Government’s handling of complaints against him had been unlawful, and he was awarded more than £500,000.
In written evidence submitted to the Committee on the Scottish Government Handling of Harassment Complaints dated August 4, Ms Sturgeon gave details of her encounters with Mr Salmond and Mr Aberdein.
Ms Sturgeon wrote: “Alex Salmond told me on April 2, 2018 at a meeting at my home that complaints against him were being investigated under procedure.
Nicola Sturgeon has suffered a backlash in a recent poll
Nicola Sturgeon faced a grilling at First Minister’s Questions on Thursday
“At that meeting, he showed me a copy of the letter he had received outlining the detail of the complaints.
“As has been reported already, four days earlier – March 29, 2018 – I had spoken with Geoff Aberdein in my office at the Scottish Parliament.
“Mr Aberdein was in parliament to see a former colleague and while there came to see me.
“I had forgotten that this encounter had taken place until I was reminded of it in, I think, late January/early February 2019.”
Alex Salmond was acquitted of all charges of sexual assault in March
She added: “For context, I think the meeting took place not long after the weekly session of FMQs and in the midst of a busy day in which I would have been dealing with a multitude of other matters.
“However, from what I recall, the discussion covered the fact that Alex Salmond wanted to see me urgently about a serious matter, and I think it did cover the suggestion that the matter might relate to allegations of a sexual nature.”
At First Minister’s Questions (FMQs) this week, Scottish Conservative Holyrood leader Ruth Davidson said Ms Sturgeon explanation “does not even bear the lightest scrutiny”, and is “beyond belief”.
Ms Sturgeon said she has “nothing to hide” and wants to appear before the committee to give evidence.
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A Savanta ComRes poll of more than 1,000 Scots carried out the day after FMQs found 43 percent of Scots believe Mr Sturgeon “deliberately misled parliament” over the issue.
Of these, two thirds (67percent) believe that this was to protect herself, nearly two in five (37 percent) say this was done to protect the SNP, and one in five (18 percent) believe this was to protect Mr Salmond.
Meanwhile, a quarter of Scots believe Ms Sturgeon genuinely forgot.
Speaking to Sky News on Sunday morning, Ms Sturgeon said: “I’ve got nothing to hide in all of this, I face the situation where complaints were raised about my predecessor and the Scottish Government tried to investigate those complaints, it made a mistake in how it applied its process and there’s a parliamentary inquiry into all of that.
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Nicola Sturgeon succeeded Alex Salmond as First Minister in 2014
“At the heart of this, and it pains me to say this because as you say this is somebody that I have worked with and cared about for a long time and I know this is difficult for my party, but this all came to light because complaints were raised about Alex Salmond.
“He was cleared of any criminal conduct but in the course of that and again this pains me to say it, there were complaints about his conduct made along the way and that’s what’s at the heart of this.”
She added: “This is complaints made about him and that is important to remember.”
The savanta ComRes poll surveyed 1,003 Scottish adults online on Friday October 9.