Nicola Sturgeon accuses Ruth Davidson of 'attacking' her husband and using him as 'a weapon against me'

Nicola Sturgeon faced fierce criticism amid accusations of uncredible responses to questions in relation to her husband and SNP chief executive Peter Murrell’s knowledge of the sexual harassment allegations against Alex Salmond during First Minister’s Questions.

Nicola Sturgeon during First Minister's Questions at the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh.
Nicola Sturgeon during First Minister's Questions at the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh.

Challenged by Ruth Davidson on Thursday, the Scottish Conservative’s leader in Holyrood, over “contradictory" evidence given by Mr Murrell to the Scottish Parliament inquiry into the botched handling of the complaints, Ms Sturgeon labelled the concerns as “wild conspiracy theories”.

In extraordinary scenes in the chamber, Ms Davidson accused Mr Murrell’s evidence to the committee of being unbelievable.

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She said it was not “plausible” the couple did not speak to each other about the meeting held by the First Minister with Mr Salmond in her home.

Ms Davidson accused Mr Murrell of “contradicting himself” over when he knew about the meeting and accused Ms Sturgeon and her government of having “sharp brains turning blank” in connection to forgotten meetings and allegations.

In evidence to the committee, Mr Murrell said he did not know about the meeting between Ms Sturgeon and Mr Salmond until it happened, but later said he knew about it the night before.

He claimed not to use the messaging service WhatsApp, only for a profile linked with his mobile account to be found and last used in November this year, with the SNP chief executive later claiming it was one of many mobile phone apps he has, but does not use.

Ms Davidson focused on claims from Mr Murrell that the meeting between his wife and Mr Salmond was government business, an event Ms Sturgeon previously said was party business.

Asking the First Minister which account was more believable, the Scottish Tory leader said the evidence “plainly contradicted” her own version of events.

In response, Ms Sturgeon insisted claims Mr Murrell's advice was contradictory were inaccurate due to the “fact” her husband had “no role” in the handling of the complaints.

She went on to criticise the opposition of “attacking” her husband and using him “as a weapon against me”.

Ms Davidson retorted: “If the First Minister doesn’t want to answer for the consequences of her government’s actions, then shame on her.”

Turning to claims the couple did not speak to each other about the meetings, Ms Davidson accused the First Minister of believing “all our heads are buttoned up the back”.

However, Ms Sturgeon said she regularly deals with confidential matters and that she was “the First Minister of the country, not the office gossip”.

In closing, Ms Davidson said: “There’s a pattern here of sharp brains suddenly turning blank, of contradictions piling up, of half answers having to be dragged out of people who should know better.

"The First Minister and the chief executive of the SNP are experienced, intelligent political operatives, but on this one issue why is it that they can’t get their stories straight?”

Ms Sturgeon rejected that was the case and said she would welcome the opportunity to give her evidence to the Salmond Inquiry in coming weeks.

She said: “I understand why Ruth Davidson wants to drag my husband into these matters but the fact of the matter is he had no role in the matter.

"It is for me to answer these questions and that is exactly what I will continue to do.”

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