Scottish Daily Mail - - News -

AS Ni­cola Stur­geon refers her­self for an of­fi­cial probe, Deputy Scot­tish Po­lit­i­cal Ed­i­tor Rachel Wat­son as­sesses why this poses a threat to her lead­er­ship.

What hap­pens now?

THE in­de­pen­dent ad­vis­ers on the min­is­te­rial code will be in­formed of the re­fer­ral. The panel, which in­cludes Dame Elish An­gi­olini, will then ‘con­sult’ on the re­mit of their in­ves­ti­ga­tion and de­cide how to move for­ward. As the probe will take place be­hind closed doors, the pub­lic will not be made aware of those giv­ing ev­i­dence, what they have said or what other ev­i­dence the panel seeks. It is ex­pected Miss Stur­geon will give ev­i­dence, with Mr Salmond also ‘happy’ to con­trib­ute. The out­come of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion will, how­ever, be pub­lished.

How se­ri­ous is this?

THIS is a se­ri­ous threat to Miss Stur­geon’s lead­er­ship. If she is found guilty of breach­ing the min­is­te­rial code, she would likely face se­vere pres­sure to re­sign. Op­po­nents could move for a vote of no con­fi­dence in her.

What sanc­tions does Miss Stur­geon face?

THE in­de­pen­dent panel, de­pend­ing on the out­come, will sug­gest a suitable sanc­tion. How­ever, as First Min­is­ter, Miss Stur­geon will have the fi­nal say on any con­se­quences she faces.

Could there by fur­ther in­quiries?

YES, this is just a sin­gle in­ves­ti­ga­tion into al­le­ga­tions Miss Stur­geon breached the min­is­te­rial code. There are calls for a full par­lia­men­tary in­quiry at Holy­rood, which could look at the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment’s han­dling of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion. This would likely see Les­lie Evans, Miss Stur­geon and her chief of staff Liz Lloyd called to give ev­i­dence, as well as a num­ber of civil ser­vants. The Gov­ern­ment is also fac­ing an in­ves­ti­ga­tion by the In­for­ma­tion Com­mis­sioner into a po­ten­tial data pro­tec­tion breach.

Why is there an in­ves­ti­ga­tion?

MISS Stur­geon has been ac­cused of breach­ing the min­is­te­rial code of con­duct as it states pri­vate of­fices should en­sure all ‘ba­sic facts’ of meet­ings about gov­ern­ment busi­ness should be recorded, in­clud­ing names of those present. Miss Stur­geon failed to record any de­tails of her three meet­ings and two phone calls with Mr Salmond. This is de­spite them dis­cussing the Gov­ern­ment’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Is this un­prece­dented?

NO. Mr Salmond re­ferred him­self for in­ves­ti­ga­tion six times when he was first min­is­ter. All found he had not breached the code.

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