Sturgeon refuses to give any reasons why Eilidh Mactaggart suddenly resigned as chief executive of the state-owned bank. Sturgeon says MacTaggart’s resignation happening at the same time that Kate Forbes announced the Scottish Government’s 10year economic plan is “a coincidence” and in response to requests for clarifications she said:
I am sure everyone will understand that I am not going to go into the confidential details of anybody’s employment situation.The former chief executive of the Scottish National Investment Bank is a private individual. She has opted to resign her post and is entitled to the duty of care that any individual in her circumstances is entitled to.
Rowling says Sturgeon is putting vulnerable women at risk with the plan to change the gender recognition laws. The proposed changes will allow a person to change their gender after three months. Rowling says this means that men facing a custodial sentence for harming women, could potentially self declare as female and be incarcerated in a female prison
Speaking at an event to mark International Women’s Day, Sturgeon says gender equality should be at the heart of building back after the covid pandemic and praises the role that women had played in the pandemic as carers and key workers. She also says that the pandemic made some inequalities worse and vowed that addressing inequalities between men and women should be at the centre of the post covid recovery
We must learn lessons from the pandemic and work together to build a fairer country.And given the massive contribution women made to tackling the pandemic, the massive contribution women make to our society each and every day, any attempt to build a better society out of this must have gender equality absolutely at its heart.
Sturgeon weighs into the Ukraine debate to clarify statements made by her own party members. Mike Russell SNP party president and Michelle Thompson Scottish likened Ukraine’s’ fight against their Russian invaders – to the fight for Scottish independence. When asked about this, Sturgeon said it was “overstating things”
There is no connection between a war in Ukraine and the support and campaign for independence in Scotland.What I think should unite all of us right now are some fundamental values, the values that underpin I think much of our democracy in Scotland – and certainly underpin my party and the independence movement – the commitment to democracy, freedom, the rule of international law and the value of the world coming together in solidarity. These are the values that we hold dear and these are the values that people bravely in Ukraine are standing up for in the toughest imaginable circumstances. But we should all remember right now this is about Ukraine fighting for these values and our responsibility is to do everything we can to support them.
Sturgeon says she will send 500,000 medical items to Ukraine to help those “fighting a battle for democracy and freedom” against their Russian invaders. While visiting a distribution centre that was collating the items she described this as an initial consignment and said that while the conflict was ongoing she do as much as she could to support them. Predicting that the war would be “likely to be grimmer and more deadly in the weeks and months to come” she asked that the Prime Minister make it easier for fleeing Ukrainians to come to the UK. She described the UK Government as having moved in the right right direction but not far enough.
I would appeal to the Prime Minister to stop moving forward incrementally, stop having to be dragged into a better position. Follow the example of the European Union who’s opened its doors and said people from Ukraine will get entry and the right to stay for three years, follow the example of Ireland as they drop visa requirements, open the doors of the UK to people fleeing this horror in Ukraine and sort the paperwork later.That’s the humanitarian thing to do, it’s what we need to do to give life to the words of support that everybody is articulating right now. But it’s also the practical and necessary thing to do.I don’t think any of us has properly grasped the magnitude of the population displacement that is going to come from this war.
She also said that the donation of so many medical items would not mean that the Scottish NHS would go without.
Sturgeon asks the Home Office to review its immigration policy to allow Ukranians fleeing war to enter the UK without a visa, calling for them to be given asylum first and their paperwork be processed after. She also called the existing Home office immigration policy “inhumane ind indefensible”, comparing UK policy with the Republic of Ireland who had completely done away with any visa requirement for entry in response to the situation in Ukraine.
Sturgeon says she is appalled that Alex Salmond continues to work for a Russian State television company RT and has asked that Ofcom revoke RT’s licence so that they are prevented from broadcasting in the UK
It’s a matter for Ofcom, but I do think there is now a very serious question about whether RT should continue to have a broadcast here in Scotland.And I would certainly encourage Ofcom to look at that very, very seriously and closely indeed.I’m appalled at Alex Salmond’s continued involvement with RT, I don’t think it’s any secret now that I don’t think he should ever have had a television show on RT, but it is even more unthinkable now that that should continue.
Sturgeon says that even though free Covid tests will end in England on 1st April, they will remain free to users in Scotland. She was unable to confirm how they would be paid for though. She expressed “frustration at the position of the UK Government”, who she said may reject calls for extra money and “demand instead that funding is taken from elsewhere in the health budget”.
We consider it important – in line with the principle of healthcare free at the point of use – that they should remain free of charge for any circumstance in which government recommends testing.
Sturgeon says masks will cease to be a legal requirement in Scotland after 21st March but she “strongly encourages” people to continue to wear them in public. She also added that should another dangerous new variant arise then restrictions could be reimposed.
As of March 21 – assuming no significant adverse developments in the course of the virus – we expect that the legal requirement to wear face coverings in certain indoor settings and on public transport will be converted to guidance. However, we will continue to strongly recommend the wearing of face coverings in shops and other indoor public places, and on public transport. We also expect on March 21 to lift the legal requirement for businesses, places of worship and service providers to have regard to Scottish government guidance on covid, and to take reasonably practicable measures set out in the guidance. The Scottish Government will adopt three threat risk levels that could see restrictions reimposed
Sturgeon has says the English and Scottish governments would negotiate pension liabilities at the point of independence but other senior members of her party have given different views on how this will be handled. The Blueprint for Scottish Independence, which was written before the 2014 referendum, said after independence the responsibility for paying out to Scottish pensioners would be held by the Scottish Government.
There are assets and liabilities, including pensions, that of course will be subject to negotiation when Scotland becomes independent. On an ongoing basis it will be for the Scottish Government to fund Scottish pensions, but in terms of how we take account of historic assets and liabilities, that will be a matter of negotiation.
In response to the argument that pensions are paid out of current taxes rather than out of national insurance contributions:
You might want to look at the Fraser of Allander comments on this just recently when they talk about the fact that access to pensions in the UK is not based on citizenship, it is based on National Insurance contributions.
Sturgeon says an independent Scotland would fund Scottish pensions.
On an ongoing basis it will be for the Scottish Government to fund Scottish pensions.
While visiting a community fire station in Bathgate, Sturgeon comments on an announcment by the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service that firefighters are to start carrying Nalaxonespray which can reverse the effects of an opiod overdose.
[Nalaxone] is a part of the overall approach we have taken to reduce the unacceptable toll that drugs have taken in Scotland and the number of deaths that are caused by drugs. We already have naloxone being used by the police (and) by the ambulance service. The Fire and Rescue Service initiative is an important addition to that. Of course, ultimately, we want to see naloxone kits widely available to people, to families of people who are drug users, for example, because it’s easy to administer and it can be the difference between life and death.
I want to see a significant reduction in the lives that are lost and are wasted to drugs, but we recognise it’s going to take time. What we have seen in recent years in Scotland in the form of drugs deaths is not acceptable. It’s not acceptable to me, to the Government and it shouldn’t be acceptable to anybody across the country so we are determined to turn that around.
Sturgeon says that Scotland is over the worst of the Omicron pandemic. Daily infections and hospitalisations are continuing to fall and she will look at lessening restrictions after the 22nd February. This has led to the lifting of nearly all the additional restrictions that were put in place in December but the requirement for face masks and vaccine passports will remain, subject to review later in February
We are now through the worst of this wave of Omicron. We are on a good track at this state. To stay on this track, continued care and caution is needed. After almost two years of this ordeal, I know getting back to normal for short periods followed by further disruption to our lives, is not what any of us want. A return to normal that is sustained is what we want and are striving for. That is what the updated Strategic Framework will be aiming to support
Sturgeon says a new variant of Covid-19, known as BA.2, that is thought to be more transmissible than the highly contagious Omicron variant has infected at least 26 people in Scotland. She says there is no evidence it is more dangerous than well-known strains of the disease.
BA.2 does appear to have the ability to outrun the main Omicron variant, which may indicate that it is more transmissible. Investigations into this are ongoing both in the UK and in other countries like Denmark where the subvariant has been circulating for longer. At the moment this BA.2 subvariant is not a cause for any alarm nor a cause to change our approach but it does warrant further study. It is also a reminder that the course of this pandemic or any pandemic, indeed, does remain uncertain.
Sturgeon comments on Goodwillie’s signing:
I think the statement Raith Rovers issued last night actually compounded the problem…what they effectively seemed to be saying is that it didn’t matter how a man had behaved towards a woman, the only thing that mattered to them was whether he could score goals for the football club. That really illustrates the distance we’ve still got to go as a society if our rhetoric about zero tolerance of sexual violence against women is to be a reality. Football players are role models and football clubs have a responsibility to make sure they are positive role models for the wee boys and the wee girls who look up to them. This is a player who was found in a civil court, albiet on the balance of probablities, to have raped a woman and as far as I’m aware, hasn’t shown any remorse or reflection for that and I think Raith Rovers really do have to reflect on the message that sends.
The First Minister sends a Year of Tiger message for the Lunar New Year.
Sturgeon says she supports McDermid and Rattray, after the former brakes her lifelong support and sponsorship of the club, and the latter resigns from the woman’s team.
The Scottish First Minister says the process row between the Met Police and the Cabinet Office over which details of Sue Gray’s partygate report should be published was creating a ‘suspicion’ that events were helping the Prime Minister.
This gets murkier by the minute. Sue Gray and the Met are in difficult positions but the sequence of events and the situation arrived at now creates the suspicion – however unfairly – that the process of inquiry is aiding Johnson at the expense of public accountability.
At Frist Minister’s questions, Sturgeon says the EHRC is misrepresenting the outcomes of her government’s planned reforms to gender laws, after the human right’s body urged the Scottish government to pause its reforms to the gender recognition process for further consideration. Sturgeon says the EHRC had gone through a “significant change in the position” following earlier consultations on gender reforms.
Obviously it’s for the commission to say why its position has changed but I think it’s important for me to narrate that it is a change in position. [The Bill] doesn’t confer any new rights on trans people, nor does it change any of the existing protections in the Equality Act, so it doesn’t change the current position on data collection or the ability of sports organisations to take decisions, for example.
At First Minister’s Questions, Sarwar highlights Audit Scotland’s findings that social care in Scotland is in crisis.
We had a staffing crisis even before the pandemic and now services are reporting they do not have the staff they need. This is a stark report that makes clear a lack of action now presents serious risks. We have been calling for a National Care Service for over a decade but it can’t now be used as a Government slogan to delay action until 2026.
Sturgeon responds, saying ministers will establish the National Care Service before the end of the current session of Parliament and that, while the Scottish Government has given a 12.9% pay increase, they still had not gone far enough.
We are increasing the pay of those who work in social care, because recruitment and retention and the valuing of the social care workforce is an important part of what we need to do. An increase of 12.9% is actually what we have already delivered. Does that go far enough? No. And we have said that we want it to go further.
Sarwar said that change had to happen immediately not in the future and he challenged Sturgeon to back Labour’s plans for an immediate pay increase to £12 an hour.
Sturgeon says that, as of Monday 31st January, work from home rules will be relaxed, leading to a gradual phased return to working in the office. She says the updated guidance is based on a fall in infections, from 10,000 new infections to 7000. Places of worship will have their social distancing requirements cut from two metres to one. She also warns against everyone returning to the office at the same time as she thinks this will cause another spike in infections.
We would not expect to see a wholesale return to the office next week – indeed, given that the level of infection though falling remains high, a mass return at this stage is likely to set progress back. But we know there are many benefits to both employees and employers, and to the economy as a whole, in at least a partial return to the office at this stage.
The ONS says Sturgeon was correct when she said England’s coronavirus infection rate was more than 20 per cent higher than in Scotland. The First Minister was accused of having “seriously twisted” the Covid figures by the Lib Dems who reported her to the UK Statistics Authority. ONS figures show 5.47 per cent of people in England are infected compared to 4.49% in Scotland – a difference of 0.98 percentage points or 21.8 per cent. ONS Chairman Norgrove:
The data does suggest that the rate of infection is lower in Scotland than in England. The distinction between percentages (parts per hundred) and percentage points (the simple difference between two percentages) can be made easier to understand by quoting the two numbers being compared. For clarity, when publishing results from CIS, the Office for National Statistics gives the absolute number of people with Covid-19; the percentage of the population with Covid-19; and the number of people with Covid-19 as a ratio to the whole population. For example, one in 20 people.
What matters is that Scotland is doing better now than we were doing before Christmas and better now than we might have been doing had we not taken action to stem transmission. That is what is important. How we are faring relative to England or anywhere else is not, in my view, the key comparison. But, given that others have sought to draw that comparison – inaccurately – in an attempt to undermine confidence in the Scottish Government’s decisions, I hope all members will now accept the conclusion of the chair of the UK statistics authority that the data I cited was, indeed, accurate.
On The Sunday Show, Sturgeon says that if mask wearing is shown to help in the fight against Covid then they would be required to potentially be worn for years. While Scottish restrictions restrictions on hospitality and on gatherings will be removed on Jan 26, the requirement to wear masks in shops and other venues will remain. This is in contrast to England where all restrictions are being removed altogether. Asked if she foresaw masks being worn for “months or years to come”:
I don’t want any of these measures to be in place for any longer than is necessary. But masks…are something we can do. None of us enjoy wearing them but they are perhaps not the biggest handicap to endure in order to try to stem transmission. So while they can make a difference to controlling the virus then I think it is something we should do.
Ross says Sturgeon’s covid restrictions during the festive period, compared with England, which had fewer restrictions, had adversely affected peoples jobs businesses and mental health. He said her “wrong calls” on restrictions were compounded by her government’s failure to pay compensation that had been promised to affected businesses, with some firms “still waiting for a single penny of support”.
The First Minister imposed restrictions that had a massive impact on jobs, businesses and people’s mental and physical health. But we can now see they weren’t needed. It was the Scottish public’s actions, not the SNP Government’s restrictions, that got this right. The First Minister has tried to build a reputation for caution during this pandemic – but she was far too gung-ho in imposing restrictions last month. The Government went too far.
We’re taking a sensible approach through this, which is why infection levels – though dropping now thankfully in all parts of the UK – are lower in Scotland than they are in England right now. Over the festive period, the numbers of people in hospital proportionately were lower. We’re not out of the woods yet, but I’m going to continue to take a cautious approach, because, frankly, the price of throwing caution to the wind is not paid by governments. The price of throwing caution to the wind is paid by people across the country in terms of ill health and sadly, in some cases, serious illness and death.
In response to a question from Anas Sarwar, Sturgeon cites Conservative MP Christian Wakeford’s defection to Labour, saying:
I’m just sitting here reflecting, almost unbeliveably actually, that Anas Sarwas has accused me of behaving like a Tory, the day after his party threw open the doors to a Tory MP. There is now so little difference between the Tories and Labour that their MPs are just interchangeable.
Sturgeon says an independent inquiry should investigate Wragg’s allegations that Tory MPs calling for the Prime Minister to quit have faced blackmail and intimidation.
These are gravely serious allegations – intimidation, blackmail and using public money to do it. I would suggest that these accusations need to be fully and, crucially, independently investigated…They shock me.”
Later, the First Minister tweeted:
Let’s be clear: if Tories are threatening to withhold public investment from constituencies as a way of keeping MPs in line then, yes, that’s blackmail & intimidation – but it is also corruption. The moral decay at the heart of Johnson’s govt may be even worse than we thought.
Louise Slorance, widow of Andrew Slorance, says Sturgeon is not being honest about the real cause of his death in December 2020.
Nicola Sturgeon wrote to me 15 minutes before FMQs. I replied the same day. I still have no response to my letter…Myself, his children, family and friends, deserve better, we deserve answers…[It is] fruitless [to send her a letter]. I have had no contact regarding Andrew since this letter despite the assurance made by the FM that I will be kept updated. Since the circumstances around Andrew’s death became public, I have not received any answers to my questions regarding what happened at the QEUH from the Scottish Government or NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde.
Scottish Government spokesman:
Ministers have been awaiting details to update Mrs Slorance and will be writing shortly. The NHS Lothian Peer Review has been examining the care and treatment received at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital as well as the communications Mrs Slorance and the family received from NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde. We expect the findings of the peer review to be shared with the family in the near future. We have offered to meet with Mrs Slorance to discuss the care provided to Mr Slorance and remain committed to doing so.
During her First Minister’s statement in Holyrood, Sturgeon says that, as of Monday, January 24, the restrictions brought in just before Christmas to stem the rate of Omicron infections, will be lifted. This means an end to one-metre social distancing, the three-household limit for indoor meetings and nightclubs will be able to reopen. The intended extension of the use of vaccine passports has been cancelled but they will still be retained for large events. She says Omicron infections peaked the first week of January and along with hospital admissions the numbers are now dropping.
[I am] cautiously optimistic that we are turning the corner on this Omicron wave.
Sturgeon says Johnson of attempting to create populist policies to distract public outrage away from his recent scandals. Johnson has allegedly launched “Operation Red Meat”, which includes plans to scrap the BBC License fee in five years time and to use sonic weapons against small boats in an attempt to send illegal immigrants back into French waters. Government ministers have denied that the policies were created to divert from the Prime Minister’s travails. Sturgeon:
While everybody will have different degrees of criticism of the BBC, to try to jettison the BBC to save his own skin, it’s unedifying. It’s beneath the office of Prime Minister and all it does really is underline this feeling that Boris Johnson is not just himself damaged irreparably, in my view, but he is bit by bit undermining and damaging the institutions of the country and the institutions that support our democracy and that’s why it’s got to stop. A line has to be drawn under this and it’s now up to the Tory Party to decide what’s more important – protecting Boris Johnson or acting in the wider interests of the country…I think there is such a fundamental issue of trust and integrity now around the Prime Minister and the responsible thing for him to do, to allow the focus to be back where it needs to be, would be to resign from office.
Sturgeon also compared her behaviour to Johnsons, climing that she that she would have resigned had the Jamese Hamilton inquiry found any evidence of breaking the ministerial code been found.
Sturgeon comments on the Scottish Crown Estate’s largest-ever auction of permits to construct offshore windfarms. £699.2 million was raised for 17 separate offshore energy projects off the east, northeast and northern coast of Scotland, to companies such as Shell, BP, SSE and Scottish Power. The developments – a combination of floating, fixed and mixed turbines – are estimated to produce almost 25,000 megawatts of energy.
It’s really hard to overstate how significant and important today’s announcement is for Scotland’s energy, environmental and economic future. This gives us the potential to meet our own energy needs from renewable sources. It’s going to position Scotland as a major exporter of green energy, green hydrogen as well – and delivers massive economic benefits as well as the revenues that will flow to the Scottish government. The estimate is that for every gigawatt of power generated from these projects in due course, there will be a billion pounds of investment in the supply chain and that has the potential to create thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, of jobs. So, as we make this transition to net-zero to meet the climate emergency, this helps ensure Scotland can do that in a fair and a just way that creates new jobs to replace those in oil and gas, for example, which we are in the process of transitioning away from. This is perhaps one of the biggest, most significant days in terms of Scotland’s energy and industrial future that we’ve had in a very, very long time. Really exciting
In response to Rees-Mogg calling Ross ‘a lightweight’ and ‘not a big figure, Sturgeon says his comments reflected the contempt with which English Tories hold Scotland itself. Ross had called on Johnson to resign after he had eventually admitted to attending an outdoor party, months after rolling out emergency pandemic legislation to make such parties illegal. Sturgeon observed:-
These might be personal insults directed at the leader of the Scottish Conservatives, but actually they say something much deeper about the Westminster establishment’s utter contempt for Scotland. If they can’t even show basic respect for their own colleagues, what chance do the rest of us have? The fact is Westminster thinks Scotland doesn’t need to be listened to, can be ignored, and now we’re being told we have to thole a Prime Minister that his own colleagues think is not fit for office.
An added benefit of being independent is that we will no longer have to put up with being treated like something on the sole of Westminster’s shoe.
In response to a question from Shirley-Anne Summerville, Sturgeon says it is her “firm intention” that senior students at secondary schools will sit exams this year. Due to the pandemic, for the past two years, Highers and other formal qualifications have been unable to take place, with pupils instead given grades based on their teachers’ assessment of performance.
Given we’re still living through a global pandemic, contingencies are needed in education as in all other aspects of life right now. Our firm intention this year is that exams will go ahead…If education is further disrupted, because of developments in the pandemic, than additional support will be provided for those studying for exams. The second contingency is that if public health advice says it isn’t safe for young people to come together to sit exams in the traditional way, then we go back to a situation akin to the last two years where we would have teacher judgment coming to bear instead of exams.
At First Minister’s questions, Ross accuses Sturgeon of treating Scottish businesses like an afterthought after still failing to pass on Westminsters rescue cash that was supposed to have been in place before Christmas. The Scottish Government’s advice on covid restrictions over Christmas had led to a huge reduction in footfall over the festive period and consequently many businesses have had to borrow huge sums of money just to survive.
Not a single penny of funding we were promised has reached businesses. Can she give a precise time-scale on when this money will be paid a month after it was announced? First Minister, this has happened time and time again. The SNP are quick to demand more money from the Westminster government but very slow to get it out to the business that need it.
In an announcement to Parliament, Sturgeon says that whilst limits of 500 people at football matches would be lifted as of Monday 17th January and table service restrictions in eateries and one-metre social distancing requirements will be removed on Monday 24th January, there will also be an increased and more widespread use of the covid vaccine passport.
The new rules will require attendees to provide proof of having had two vaccine injections plus the booster jab in order to get into nightclubs and large events. Whereas, until now, event organisers were only required to check the passports of twenty percent of attendees, from 24th January that will be raised to fifty percent. Those who have not as yet had a booster jab can instead provide proof of a same day negative lateral flow test. Sturgeon also says she will look at “extending the scope of covid certification to other venues” which has been widely interpreted that she will even impose them on pubs and licensed premises.
Salmond compares Sturgeon’s opposition to the Cambo oil field to Mrs Thatcher’s abandonment of coal mining communities, saying it will sink the case for independence and cost the SNP tens of thousands of votes.
The consequences could be far reaching, and not just for the SNP but for the whole independence movement….It would be akin to Margaret Thatcher, having closed the pits, then campaigning for votes in the old mining areas of Cowdenbeath and Kelty…For the leader of the independence campaign to casually cast aside that card represents a stunning step backwards.
He says Cambo should be licensed on condition it is a zero carbon development:
Without it, then it is not just farewell to tens of thousands of north-east of Scotland votes for the SNP. Much more seriously, it’s Mossmorran no more, Grangemouth no more, St Fergus no more – and independence no more.
Sturgeon tweets her support to Godley.
Sending love and strength
Following the sentencing of Jason Graham for the murder of Esther Brown, Ross asks Sturgeon about the Scottish Government’s approach to prisoner early release:
Jason Graham was released early. He wasn’t monitored properly. Yesterday he got 19 years – yes, a long sentence – but not nearly enough for such a horrific crime. This week the Scottish Government launched a consultation proposing that violent criminals could get out after just six or seven years. The document suggests long-term prisoners could be considered for release after a just a third of their sentence…First Minister, can you honestly say your government’s approach to justice is keeping the people of Scotland safe?
My thoughts and sympathies are with Esther Brown’s family and her friends. Absolutely nothing I or anyone else in this chamber can say will ease the pain that family is suffering…In terms of automatic early release, of course this is an issue of contention and has been for many years in this parliament. This government legislated back in 2016 to end the previous system of automatic release for prisoners and that could not be retrospective legislation but it was an important move to make.We will continue to ensure our justice system continues to protect people from criminals and ensures victims get the justice they deserve. But also a justice system that tries to ensure – and I’m not talking about this case when I make this point – the principles of rehabilitation and reducing reoffending are at its heart.
In Holyrood, Lennon questions The First Minister on the Cambo oil field:
There is no rigorous climate change test that Cambo can possibly pass, so the First Minister must do more than ask the UK Government to simply reassess the proposed oil field. [The First Minister must] oppose Cambo in the strongest possible terms and provide the political leadership that has been lacking.
I don’t think we can go on extracting new oil and gas forever, that is why we have moved away from the policy of maximum economic recovery. And I don’t think we can go and continue to give the go-ahead to new oil fields. So I don’t think that Cambo should get the green light…I have set out a proposal for a climate assessment and I think the presumption would be that Cambo couldn’t and shouldn’t pass any rigorous climate assessment
However, The first Misiter said that final approval for the oil field was reserved to the UK Government.
Sturgeon comments on Godley’s offensive comments:
The tweets that were brought to my attention yesterday were completely unacceptable, completely beyond the pale. I would not in any way, shape or form seek to defend them.
When asked about the decision to scrap the videos:
These things happen. The important thing is that action was taken. The most important thing to me from the start of this pandemic has been the integrity of our public health message and that has involved difficult decisions from me over the past 18 months and that’s the priority we have attached to this particular incident…Janey has apologised – I think she has been pretty straightforward and dignified in her apology. She’s a comedian – as she said herself she thought it gave her licence to say things that she now accepts were completely out of order and unacceptable. When people make mistakes, the culture we live in, the climate we live in these days is pretty unforgiving. Therefore, I’m a great believer that when people make mistakes, and I apply this to myself as well, it’s really important to hold your hands up to it and apologise where that is required. But perhaps we should all recognise that none of us are infallible.
The independent enquiry led by Hamilton into whether Sturgeon deliberately misled the Scottish Parliament over what she knew or didn’t know about the Alex Salmond saga, clears her of any wrongdoing in a report. He acknowledges that while her recollection of some events was incorrect, this was due to a genuine error rather than because of any attempt to deceive.
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.
On that basis he concludesd that she had not broken the ministerial code. Hamilton also looked at her failure to record specifics of meetings and conversations with Alex Salmond and while he disagreed with her that they were not Government business he acknowledged that keeping a record of those events might have prejudiced the proceedings.
Regarding the accusation that Sturgeon had attempted to influence the investigation itself over whether Salmond harassed staff, it was found that she had not done so. Salmond had also raised that complaint that Sturgeon had broken the law by failing to listen to the advice of her legal advisers that there was not a sufficiently strong case against him to justify proceeding. Hamilton concludesed that failing to follow the advice of your advisers does not mean that you have broken the law itself.
At an event at Spirit AeroSystems in Prestwick, Sturgeon talks about innovation.
I want Scotland to be the inventor and producer of the innovations that shape the future – not just a consumer of them. [Scotland has immense economic potential, but warned that the country] must be more ambitious, with government, businesses and wider society working together to lead on the key technological and social changes of the future…R&D drives innovation, which in turn boosts productivity and economic growth. That is why R&D support from our enterprise agencies will increase almost 70% – from £22m to £37m per year. We expect this additional £45m over three years will unlock a further £270m R&D expenditure by companies.
Rajoy responds to Sturgeons meeting with EU officials by dismissing her hope that Scotland could join the EU after Brexit
I want to be very clear: Scotland does not have the competence to negotiate with the European Union. Spain opposes any negotiation by anyone other than the government of the United Kingdom,” he told a news conference following a summit of European leaders in Brussels.
“I am extremely against it, the treaties are extremely against it and I believe everyone is extremely against it. If the United Kingdom leaves … Scotland leaves,” he added. Madrid has a troubled relationship with the separatist inclinations of Catalonia.
Sturgeon said she was not surprised at the Spanish position, adding:
I have a duty as first minister to find a way to give effect to the democratic will of Scotland.