UK markets closed
  • FTSE 100

    7,019.53
    +36.03 (+0.52%)
     
  • FTSE 250

    22,522.18
    +50.14 (+0.22%)
     
  • AIM

    1,254.25
    +6.12 (+0.49%)
     
  • GBP/EUR

    1.1540
    +0.0029 (+0.25%)
     
  • GBP/USD

    1.3840
    +0.0056 (+0.41%)
     
  • BTC-GBP

    44,136.97
    -934.29 (-2.07%)
     
  • CMC Crypto 200

    1,398.97
    +7.26 (+0.52%)
     
  • S&P 500

    4,185.47
    +15.05 (+0.36%)
     
  • DOW

    34,200.67
    +164.68 (+0.48%)
     
  • CRUDE OIL

    63.07
    -0.39 (-0.61%)
     
  • GOLD FUTURES

    1,777.30
    +10.50 (+0.59%)
     
  • NIKKEI 225

    29,683.37
    +40.68 (+0.14%)
     
  • HANG SENG

    28,969.71
    +176.57 (+0.61%)
     
  • DAX

    15,459.75
    +204.42 (+1.34%)
     
  • CAC 40

    6,287.07
    +52.93 (+0.85%)
     

Poll: Scots do not think Nicola Sturgeon has been totally honest about Alex Salmond scandal

Simon Johnson
·3-min read
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon giving evidence to the Committee on the Scottish Government Handling of Harassment Complaints - PA
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon giving evidence to the Committee on the Scottish Government Handling of Harassment Complaints - PA

Scottish voters do not think Nicola Sturgeon has been honest in the Alex Salmond scandal and she must resign if an independent inquiry finds she broke the ministerial code, according to a poll.

The Panelbase survey for the Sunday Times found a third of people already think she should quit, but this proportion would surge to 61 per cent if she is found to have broken the code.

Ms Sturgeon last week refused to provide any guarantee she would quit, instead telling MSPs "we can debate in this chamber" what her punishment should be. However, only 24 per cent said they would support her staying on.

The poll also found only one in three Scots believe she has been entirely honest and recorded a three-point swing from Yes (46 per cent) to No (47 per cent) on independence.

Support for independence in Holyrood's constituency vote declined five points since January, although Ms Sturgeon is still just on course to win a majority in May, with 65 seats out of 129.

A second, unweighted poll for Scotland on Sunday also indicated that support for separation and public trust in Ms Sturgeon has dropped significantly this year.

Nicola Sturgeon and Alex Salmond on the campaign trail in the 2015 general election - Reuters
Nicola Sturgeon and Alex Salmond on the campaign trail in the 2015 general election - Reuters

They were published as further allegations emerged that a Scottish Government official asked Mr Salmond's former chief of staff to change his account.

Geoff Aberdein's testimony to a Holyrood inquiry is said to allege that the official was aware of the government investigation into Mr Salmond in early March 2018 - almost a month before the First Minister claimed she found out.

But Mr Aberdein, who was Mr Salmond's chief of staff during his tenure as First Minister, is said to have been asked by the official to change a media statement he planned to make the following January.

It has been reported that Mr Aberdein's unpublished evidence alleges that he was asked to say the official only had a "suspicion" there had been complaints when they met in early March 2018.

The official is also said to have warned him that their career could be damaged if he pressed ahead with the release of the original version of the media statement, which he had shared with the Scottish Government.

The disclosure would have further undermined the First Minister's claim she only found out about her government's investigation into sexual misconduct claims against Mr Salmond when he visited her home on April 2, 2018.

Ms Sturgeon has also claimed she "forgot" about a meeting she held with Mr Aberdein on March 29 that year in her parliamentary office during which the allegations were discussed and the meeting at her home arranged.

Nicola Sturgeon, leaves her home in Glasgow to head to Holyrood in Edinburgh to give evidence to the Scottish Parliament's inquiry into her government's unlawful investigation of the former First Minister Alex Salmond - PA
Nicola Sturgeon, leaves her home in Glasgow to head to Holyrood in Edinburgh to give evidence to the Scottish Parliament's inquiry into her government's unlawful investigation of the former First Minister Alex Salmond - PA

A Scottish Tory spokesman said he believed the polling showed "more and more people are seeing that Nicola Sturgeon has tried to cover up what really happened with Alex Salmond."

He added: “Trust in the First Minister is plummeting as the public realise she has misled parliament and broken the ministerial code." She had vehemently denied this.

Mr Aberdein's evidence has not been published because of legal concerns but it had been seen by members of the Holyrood committee conducting the inquiry into the government's unlawful investigation.

Jackie Baillie, a Labour committee member, said yesterday: "Mr Aberdein’s allegation is incredibly serious, and if it is accurate, then the official responsible should reflect on their position."

A Scottish Government spokesman said: "We can't comment on written submissions that have not been published by the committee and that we have not seen.

"However, as the First Minister made clear during the committee session, there are differing accounts of conversations that took place with Mr Aberdein."