Nicola Sturgeon has said she will refute accusations she misled the Scottish Parliament – a claim made by her predecessor as first minister Alex Salmond – when she appears before a committee of MSPs.
Asked about Salmond’s claims on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show on Sunday, she said: “I don’t accept that and I will refute that vigorously.”
Sturgeon said she had hoped to appear before the Holyrood committee investigating the Scottish Government’s handling of harassment complaints this coming week, but her appearance had been delayed by a “couple of weeks”.
She said: “I will sit before that committee and I will set out my account of what happened, given the very difficult situation that I faced, and people can make their own judgements on that.”
Salmond has claimed that his successor as First Minister misled MSPs with “false and manifestly untrue” statements about when she first knew of sexual harassment allegations against him.
But Sturgeon said she does not believe she lied to parliament and Deputy First Minister John Swinney says she will use her appearance before the inquiry to dispel the “absolute nonsense” put forward by her predecessor.
Sturgeon initially told Holyrood she first heard of complaints of sexual misconduct against Salmond when they met at her home on April 2, 2018.
It later emerged she had a meeting with Salmond’s chief of staff, Geoff Aberdein, in her Holyrood office four days earlier.
The SNP leader told the Scottish Parliament committee she “forgot” about that encounter.
Asked by Marr if Salmond was “spinning false conspiracy theories”, Sturgeon said: “What I certainly reflect on is that at times I appear to be simultaneously accused of colluding with Mr Salmond to somehow cover up accusations of sexual harassment on the one hand.
“And then on the other hand, being part of some dastardly conspiracy to bring him down.
“Neither of those are true.”
She continued: “I, at the time I became aware of all of this, just tried hard not to interfere with what was going on and not to do anything that would see these swept aside rather than properly investigated.”
Sturgeon said the Scottish Government had made “mistakes” in its handling of the complaints, which would be the subject of the Holyrood committee’s inquiry.