Evidence given by the SNP’s chief executive to an inquiry into the handling of complaints against Alex Salmond has “sunk Nicola Sturgeon”, according to the Scottish Conservatives.
Peter Murrell, who is Ms Sturgeon’s husband, has given evidence to the Committee on the Scottish Government Handling of Harassment Complaints.
Scottish Tory MSP Murdo Fraser, a member of the committee, said: “The SNP chief executive has sunk Nicola Sturgeon.
“He has directly contradicted the First Minister and exposed her claim that it was party business to be utterly false.
“Peter Murrell’s words indicate that Nicola Sturgeon misled Parliament, gave false evidence to the committee and broke the ministerial code.
“The SNP chief executive said today that the meetings with Alex Salmond were government not party business.
“That is the opposite of what Nicola Sturgeon claims.”
He added: “The First Minister’s ever-changing story has been dealt a fatal blow by her own chief executive and husband.
“His evidence has shattered her claims to pieces.”
Scottish Labour deputy leader and committee member Jackie Baillie said: “Peter Murrell’s appearance today demonstrated the lengths that the SNP will go to in order to prevent this committee from getting to the truth.
“Nicola Sturgeon claims her meeting with Alex Salmond was as SNP leader but Peter Murrell has contradicted her previously and said it was in her capacity as First Minister that she met him. Both can’t be right.
“If Peter Murrell, as chief executive of the SNP, was not aware of the nature of the meeting in his own home, then I am astonished.
“However, more serious would be if the First Minister was breaching the ministerial code and discussing details of the Government’s investigation to Alex Salmond.”
She added: “Mr Murrell squirmed when confronted with his own words in his text messages, messages that concerned events about the Crown Prosecution Service in England, that were not disclosed publicly until months later.
“It’s all too clear that the boundaries between party and government and what is personal and professional have been eroded.
“The taxpayer has been made to foot the bill for a botched investigation that failed the complainers and looks like it was driven by a dangerous cocktail of vendetta and incompetence.”
Scottish Liberal Democrat MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton said: “The suggestion that Nicola Sturgeon gave her husband no warning of the what was potentially the biggest threat to their party in its history, and a head start on bracing the party for impact, is wholly implausible.
“She was worried that Salmond was about to resign from the party at the April 2 meeting, she attended as much in her capacity as leader of the party.
“Normal practice would have seen her ringing alarm bells within the party high command.
“Mr Murrell’s appearance undermines both of their accounts as to Nicola Sturgeon’s role in all of this.”