According to Sky News and Press Association, MSPs investigating how the government in Edinburgh handled allegations against Salmond voted 5-4 that the FM gave an “inaccurate” account of a meeting with her predecessor during the complaints process.
This would amount to misleading the Scottish parliament and, if reports are accurate, the finding would pile pressure on Sturgeon to stand down before May’s Holyrood election.
But the SNP leader swiftly criticised a “partisan leak” of the report amid confusion over what MSPs had decided. A Scottish parliament spokeswoman said the committee is still considering its report. The full conclusions have yet to be published, and the report is not expected to be made public until Tuesday.
The committee on the Scottish government is not the only report due to be published examining Sturgeon’s conduct. The FM referred herself under the ministerial code last year, sparking a separate and independent inquiry, led by James Hamilton QC.
The committee was set up after a successful judicial review by Salmond resulted in the Scottish government’s investigation being ruled unlawful and “tainted by apparent bias”, with a £512,250 payout being awarded to him for legal fees in 2019.
Speaking to broadcasters on Thursday night, Sturgeon said: “I stand by all the evidence I gave to the committee, all eight hours of evidence. What’s been clear is Opposition members of this committee made their minds up about me before I uttered a single word of evidence. Their comments have made this clear.
“This leak from the committee – a very partisan committee – tonight before they’ve actually finalised the report is not that surprising. So let’s wait and see the final report – but more importantly the question of whether or not I breached the ministerial code is being considered independently by James Hamilton QC.”
Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar said: “I am not going to prejudge the outcome of the committee report and we await its findings, but if it does conclude that the first minister has misled parliament and potentially breached the ministerial code then that is incredibly serious.”
Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross said: “The committee will publish its findings in the coming days and we will wait for that report.
“But we have already detailed that Nicola Sturgeon lied to the Scottish parliament and for that, she must resign. All we’re waiting for is confirmation.”