A former SNP MP has said she told a member of Nicola Sturgeon’s staff about alleged sexual harassment by Alex Salmond when he was first minister.
Natalie McGarry claimed she asked Ms Sturgeon’s office manager to pass on the concerns about Mr Salmond’s behaviour to the then deputy first minister, according to The Scotsman.
Ms McGarry, the MP for Glasgow East between 2015 and 2017, reportedly made the allegations on her private Twitter profile last month.
The Scotsman reported her claims that she had expected Ms Sturgeon to stop Mr Salmond “in his tracks”, after she told a member of Ms Sturgeon’s staff of an incident alleged to have occurred in late 2013.
Ms McGarry claims she informed the staff member in early 2014 about the sexual harassment allegation – three years before Ms Sturgeon said she first became aware of any alleged inappropriate behaviour by her predecessor.
The First Minister’s spokesman denied the claims and said the first Ms Sturgeon knew of the allegations against Mr Salmond was in November 2017.
Mr Salmond was investigated by the Scottish Government but he successfully challenged the lawfulness of that process and was awarded a maximum pay-out of £512,250 after the case was conceded.
At the Court of Session, Lord Pentland described the investigation as “unlawful” and “tainted by apparent bias” because of prior contact between investigating officer Judith Mackinnon and two of the women who made complaints.
Mr Salmond, who now leads the Alba Party, was later cleared of 13 charges of sexual harassment by a jury at the High Court in Edinburgh.
During the subsequent Holyrood inquiry into the Scottish Government’s botched handling of the harassment complaints, Ms Sturgeon insisted under oath she only became aware of the complaints and investigation in 2017.
However Ms McGarry, who is awaiting a retrial after being charged with embezzling £25,000 from pro-independence groups, claimed a member of Ms Sturgeon’s team was informed in early 2014 and “should have” told their boss.
According to the tweets revealed to The Scotsman, she wrote: “Here is a story. An absolute story. And I kept it quiet until after this election.
“I knew about one of the worst of the civil service allegations against Alex Salmond at the start of 2014. Happened late 2013.
“I cannot guarantee [they] told Nicola Sturgeon, but I actively told this person she had to. It had to be dealt with.
“If I, as a non-press or civil service person knew about [it], it was out there. And the DFam [sic] had to stop the FM in his tracks. Heard nothing back about or asked.”
In another tweet posted on May 9, the former MP repeated the allegation.
She said: “I voted SNP. I actually hate them though on so many levels. I told NS office manager about one of the key civil service Alex Salmond cases at the beginning of 2014.
“Asked that person to tell NS. I can’t swear that that person told NS. But that person should have.”
The former MP was suspended from the SNP amid allegations she embezzled £25,000 from an SNP regional association and the Women for Independence group – which she denies.
The Scottish Parliament committee set up to examine the Government’s failure to lawfully investigate Mr Salmond also questioned Ms Sturgeon’s account of when she first knew about the claims.
Its report stated: “The committee finds it hard to believe that the First Minister had no knowledge of any concerns about inappropriate behaviour on the part of Mr Salmond prior to November 2017.
“If she did have such knowledge, then she should have acted upon it. If she did have such knowledge, then she has misled the committee.”
Reacting to the allegations, Scottish Conservative chief whip Stephen Kerr said: “If these allegations turn out to be true then there will be serious further questions for the First Minister to answer.
“The public deserve to know the complete truth about any reports the First Minister had received in relation to Alex Salmond’s alleged behaviour and when she was made aware of these.”
A spokesman for Ms Sturgeon denied Ms McGarry’s claims and said: “As the First Minister has previously made very clear, she was not aware of such concerns prior to November 2017.”