Nicola Sturgeon has demanded an apology from Tory MP David Davis for making “factually inaccurate” claims about the handling of harassment allegations against his “old pal” Alex Salmond.
The first minister said the former Cabinet member’s intervention in the Commons on Tuesday, using parliamentary privilege, had been the “very epitome of the old boys’ club”.
At Holyrood, Conservative MSP Ruth Davidson challenged Ms Sturgeon on claims highlighted by Mr Davis that a legal document had been deliberately withdrawn from being handed over to a court by government officials.
Mr Davis had earlier used social media to defend the allegation, posting an extract from a legal document and saying: “So draw your own conclusions on whether or not the Scottish Government was obstructing the court.”
But Ms Sturgeon said it “didn’t happen”, and criticised Mr Davis during fiery exchanges at first minister’s questions on Thursday.
‘Old boys’ club’
She said: “Having David Davis, a Tory MP, reading out in the House of Commons under the protection of parliamentary privilege, his old pal Alex Salmond’s conspiracy theories about the sexual harassment allegations against him, must be the very epitome of the old boys’ club.
“I have to say, holding this government to account is vital but anyone who chooses to cheer that on should not pretend to have the interests of the women concerned at heart.”
Call for apology
Ms Sturgeon said the specific allegation had been “factually inaccurate”.
She added: “David Davis claimed that a document was withheld, but once we tracked down exactly what document was being talked about, what we discovered was that that document was not withheld, that document was handed over to the court on November 21 2018, production number 7.79.
“David Davis made serious, specific allegations in the House of Commons this week, and they have completely fallen apart, and I actually think that should be something he is apologising for.”
So draw your own conclusions on whether or not the Scottish Government was obstructing the court.
— David Davis (@DavidDavisMP) March 18, 2021
Speaking afterwards, Ms Davidson said: “The SNP’s old boys’ club continues to ‘protect’ Patrick Grady, who himself had defended Derek Mackay, just two of many SNP politicians accused of not just sleaze, but unacceptable actions.
“If the SNP government had properly dealt with the shameful behaviour from their old boys’ club, Nicola Sturgeon wouldn’t be in this mess.
“They have utterly failed the women at the heart of this scandal from start to finish.
“They continue to let the women and the public down by deflecting all blame and covering up important evidence until it’s dragged from them.”