Scotland’s Sturgeon Cleared of Breaching Ministerial Code

Results of an independent inquiry announced Monday cleared Scotland’s first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, of breaking a ministerial code of conduct, but she is likely to face an opposition-led vote of no confidence in parliament Tuesday.  Sturgeon has been under intense scrutiny over what she did and did not do when she learned of complaints by several women against Alex Salmond – her predecessor as first minister and, once a close friend and ally in the cause of Scottish independence.  Salmond was charged in 2019 with sexual assault and attempted rape after allegations by nine women who had worked with him as first minister or for the party.He was acquitted by a criminal court in 2020, and claims the allegations made by several women were part of a conspiracy to wreck his political career.James Hamilton, a widely respected Irish lawyer appointed to conduct an independent inquiry into Sturgeon’s conduct, found that she had not breached the ministerial code. Had he reached the opposite conclusion, she would have been expected to resign.Hamilton rejected suggestions that she had broken the rules by failing to record meetings with Salmond in 2018, that she tried to influence an investigation into his behavior or that she misled the Scottish parliament.A second inquiry, by a committee of Scottish lawmakers, is due to publish a report on Tuesday. British media have reported that the committee voted 5-4 in favor of finding that Sturgeon gave an inaccurate account to Scotland’s Edinburgh-based parliament about when she learned of allegations against Salmond.The Conservatives, who are in power in the United Kingdom as a whole but in opposition in Scotland, are planning a vote of no confidence in Sturgeon on Tuesday.  With an election coming in May, Sturgeon called the vote a “political stunt” and said she was confident of winning.