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Moray MSP Richard Lochhead accuses Tories of being 'bunch of nasty charlatans' in wake of Hamilton report but Douglas Ross MP insists First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is not 'free and clear'

By Chris Saunderson

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MORAY MSP and Scottish Government minister Richard Lochhead has attacked the Scottish Conservatives as "a bunch of nasty charlatans" after the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was cleared of breaking the ministerial code of conduct by an independent report into her handling of sexual harassment complaints against Alex Salmond.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

The report author James Hamilton QC, concluded: “I am of the opinion that the First Minister did not breach the provisions of the Ministerial Code in respect of any of these matters.”

Mr Lochhead said the Tories had put the FM "through sheer hell all because of a very difficult situation she was put in by the actions of others".

However, Scottish Conservative leader and Moray MP Douglas Ross, said while he respects Mr Hamilton QC, who ruled that Ms Sturgeon's "failure of recollection" was not deliberate, he insisted the First Minister has not been cleared and still has questions to answer.

He added: “I respect Mr Hamilton and his judgement but we cannot agree with that assessment. Nicola Sturgeon did not suddenly turn forgetful."

Mr Lochhead said the First Minister had been cleared and condemned the Tories for finding her guilty before they heard her evidence to a Scottish Parliament committee.

That cross-party committee's report, widely leaked, is due to be published tomorrow and is set to criticise Ms Sturgeon.

Mr Lochhead claimed the Tories had "focussed on the politics and not the women who were let down by the complaints process".

Moray MSP Richard Lochhead.
Moray MSP Richard Lochhead.

"In all my years as an elected representative I have never witnessed such a bunch of nasty charlatans as the current Conservative Party."

Mr Ross said: “The First Minister has been given a pass because it has been judged her “failure of recollection” was “not deliberate.”

“She is not free and clear. The First Minister promised to ‘respect the decisions’ of both inquiry reports, not to pick and choose which one suits her and try to discredit the other.

"The SNP spin machine will go into hyper-drive to again attack the committee report because they’re running scared of its findings. They have accelerated the Vote of No Confidence in Nicola Sturgeon to avoid MSPs scrutinising that report.

Moray MP Douglas Ross.
Moray MP Douglas Ross.

“This report does not change the overwhelming evidence that Nicola Sturgeon misled Parliament, her government badly let women down and wasted more than £500,000 of taxpayers’ money."

Ms Sturgeon is poised to defeat a vote of no confidence in parliament tomorrow with the Greens saying they will not support the Conservative motion following the Hamilton report.

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