The convener of the Salmond inquiry said she is “dismayed” by the damage potentially done to the committee’s yet-to-be published report.
The Committee on the Scottish Government’s Handling of Harassment Complaints conclusion that First Minister Nicola Sturgeon gave an “inaccurate” account of a meeting with her predecessor was revealed on Thursday night, with opposition parties calling for her to resign.
Committee convener Linda Fabiani MSP said on Friday that she felt the leak could devalue the report’s aim to “improve the treatment of those who come forward with allegations of sexual harassment”.
Fabiani said that the MSP’s code of conduct prohibits the sharing of reports without the approval of the committee.
She said: “Over the past 24 hours, accounts of the conclusions of the draft report of the Scottish Parliament’s Committee on the Scottish Government’s Handling of Harassment Complaints have been leaked to the media.
“I am dismayed by the damage this may do to the value of the committee’s work which I have long hoped would improve the treatment of the complainers of sexual harassment.
“The selective leaking of particular committee recommendations has shifted the focus away from these goals, and the recommendations which seek to achieve it, and onto party political terrain which will likely frustrate, not assist, the women at the heart of this.
“The MSP’s code of conduct requires that all drafts of committee reports should be kept confidential unless the committee decides otherwise and it requires that members must not provide the media with off the record briefings on the general contents or line of draft committee reports because such disclosures of this kind can also seriously undermine and devalue the work of committees.”
Meanwhile, the Scottish Conservatives plan to push ahead with a vote of no confidence in the First Minister next week.
The party said it would give Sturgeon a last chance to resign over claims she “misled” the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday, with a no confidence vote to be held on Wednesday if she does not.
Tory Holyrood leader Ruth Davidson said: “If Nicola Sturgeon has a shred of integrity, she should be considering her position. She has every opportunity to do the right thing and resign.
“No First Minister is above the fundamental principles of honesty and trust. There is no question that Nicola Sturgeon has misled parliament and broken the promises she made to tell the truth.”
The committee has nine members, with four SNP MSPs and five opposition MSPs. STV News understands that on Thursday, the group voted five to four that Sturgeon gave an “inaccurate” account of a meeting with Alex Salmond during her evidence.
The SNP members of the committee said in a statement that the opposition MSPs had used their majority to insert “political assertions that have no basis in fact”.
A statement from Alasdair Allan, Maureen Watt and Stuart McMillan read: “This committee was meant to carry out a dispassionate search for the truth.
“Yet, without a shred of evidence to the contrary, the opposition simply used their majority on the comittee to insert 11th-hour predetermined political assertions that have no basis in fact. That is simply disgraceful and wrong.
“For the opposition, this was never about the truth. It was never about the evidence and, shamefully, it was never even about the women. All of these are being sacrificed in pursuit of political ends.”
A spokesperson for the First Minister said she “stands by every word of her evidence” to the Holyrood inquiry and that the committee had “resorted to baseless assertion, supposition and smear”.
The committee’s report is expected to be published at 8am on Tuesday, March 23.
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