‘Scotland deserves better than SNP!’ Cleverly hits out amid Sturgeon and Salmond chaos

Nicola Sturgeon says she is 'happy to answer' Salmond questions

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James Cleverly, Minister of State for Middle East and North Africa claimed Scotland “deserved better than the SNP” following the saga which has seen Nicola Sturgeon and her predecessor clash horns. Last night, Nicola Sturgeon accused the former Scottish First Minister of creating an “alternative reality” to portray himself as the victim of a conspiracy.

The former SNP leader made two submissions with bombshell claims he was the victim of a “malicious and concerted” attempt by several people see him removed from public life.

But Mr Cleverly has hit out and claimed the SNP were attempting to “cover-up” the saga.

He was joined by Mr Liam Fox, former International Trade Secretary who claimed Mr Salmond’s allegations about Ms Sturgeon would be “a damning indictment in a tinpot dictatorship” as he spoke in the Commons.

Alex Salmond is set to give evidence to the parliamentary inquiry on Friday followed by Ms Sturgeon next Wednesday.

Mr Salmond was due to give evidence in person on Wednesday but the former first minister asked to delay his appearance after his already-published written evidence was belatedly redacted by parliament on Tuesday following an intervention by the Crown Office – the body responsible for prosecuting crime in Scotland.

It comes as Nicola Sturgeon could give a press conference to address the issue to Scots once and for all.

Speaking to Express.co.uk at today’s Coronavirus briefing, she said: “I’m kind of laughing because that’s what I feel I’ve been forced to do today.

“I’ve always said I want to speak to the committee and the details of this first because I think that is showing respect for the parliamentary process, I am accountable to Parliament and the public.

“I’m getting frustrated at the length of time it was taken to have my opportunity to come before the committee.

“Once I’ve had that opportunity, I’ve no doubt others will want to question me and I will be happy to answer those questions.

“What I say to Alex Salmond is, do a press conference if you like but don’t dodge the Committee.”

Ms Sturgeon repeated her assertion that there is not “a shred of evidence” to support her former mentor’s claim there was a “malicious and concerted” attempt to see him removed from public life.

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The Government’s investigation of the unproven allegations against Mr Salmond was found to be “tainted by apparent bias”.

Mr Salmond was awarded a £512,250 payout after he successfully challenged the lawfulness of the government investigation.

The former SNP leader was also separately acquitted of all 13 charges of sexual assault against him in a criminal trial.

A parliamentary inquiry – the Committee on the Scottish Government Handling of Harassment Complaints – was established to look into the Government’s actions.

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