A Conservative MSP has been ejected from the Holyrood chamber for claiming Nicola Sturgeon “lied” to parliament over the Salmond inquiry.
Oliver Mundell was ordered to leave after refusing to apologise for his remarks, which were made amid a furious row over the failure of key witnesses to hand over material to the investigation.
Mr Mundell raised a point of order at Holyrood, quoting Ms Sturgeon when she told MSPs in January that the Salmond inquiries would be able “to request whatever material they want”.
He added that Ms Sturgeon went on to “undertake” that her government would provide whatever was requested.
Not to be outdone, Murdo Fraser says it appears the inquiry "will be a whitewash", and that Nicola Sturgeon "misled parliament" when she said govt (& SNP) would provide "whatever material" members requested – govt is arguing it should not have to hand over privileged legal advice pic.twitter.com/iSYjKz9462
— Philip Sim (@BBCPhilipSim) September 29, 2020
The MSPs have also been frustrated by the lack of evidence provided by Mr Salmond and Peter Murrell, Ms Sturgeon’s husband, who is also the SNP chief executive.
Addressing Holyrood’s Presiding Officer, Ken Macintosh, Mr Mundell sought an explanation from Ms Sturgeon as to “why she lied to parliament”.
Mr Macintosh said the use of words “like lie” were not appropriate in the chamber.
The Presiding Officer suggested Mr Mundell, MSP for Dumfriesshire, could raise his point in other ways at parliament and could attend the committee charged with investigating the botched Scottish Government internal inquiry into harassment claims made against Mr Salmond.
Mr Macintosh asked Mr Mundell to “apologise for using the term liar in the chamber… lied in the chamber”.
Mr Mundell answered that he could “apologise to you personally, Presiding Officer”, before adding: “But in this case I do feel it is the appropriate word and I can’t find anything else that would express the sentiment.”
The Presiding Officer told Mr Mundell that did not amount to an apology and gave him the chance to rephrase his remarks in language “that expresses his view about the accuracy of comments without personalising and making pejorative terms which are disrespectful to other members”.
Mr Mundell replied: “With due respect, Presiding Officer, I think it is disrespectful to the parliament for the first minister to make a promise and not to keep it. And I can’t withdraw the word, no.”
Mr Macintosh said he had to ask Mr Mundell to leave the chamber, which the Tory MSP did.
The incident occurred the day after the Salmond committee convener Linda Fabiani of the SNP said the investigation “cannot proceed” until it receives the documents it needs.
Ms Fabiani said the inquiry had faced repeated “obstruction” and was waiting for information from Mr Murrell, Mr Salmond and the Scottish Government.
The committee was set up after the Scottish Government was successfully challenged in the courts by Mr Salmond. After judicial review, it was found the government’s internal investigation into claims against the former first minister was tainted with apparent bias.