Nicola Sturgeon’s husband should be ‘removed’ as SNP chief executive, says Salmond ally

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Adam Forrest
·3 min read
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Nicola Sturgeon with husband Peter Murrell (PA)
Nicola Sturgeon with husband Peter Murrell (PA)

Nicola Sturgeon’s husband Peter Murrell should be “removed” as the chief executive of the SNP, according to a close party ally of Alex Salmond.

SNP MP Kenny MacAskill said he thought Mr Murrell’s position as a senior figure in the party was inappropriate – given the allegations Mr Salmond has made about him being involved in a plot to bring him down.

Mr Salmond will give testimony on Friday afternoon, in a hotly anticipated session at the Holyrood inquiry into the Scottish government’s botched handling of sexual harassment claims.

The former first minister has claimed Mr Murrell and Ms Sturgeon’s chief of staff Liz Lloyd are among senior SNP figures involved in a “malicious and concerted effort” to remove him from public life.

“I always thought Mr Murrell’s position was inappropriate. I find it surprising, given the allegations that have been made against him, that he remains in office,” Mr MacAskill told Sky News.

Watch: Alex Salmond set to elaborate on claims that Nicola Sturgeon misled Scottish Parliament

Scotland’s former justice secretary added: “I think it’s about time those in charge of the party had him removed, and indeed others who have been working him … the party will go on even though Mr Murrell has to go.”

Asked if Ms Sturgeon should lead the party into the Holyrood election in May, Mr MacAskill said: “We’ll have to see what comes … it will be for others to decide.”

Mr Murrell has previously denied any attempt against Mr Salmond, saying his claims were “without a shred of credible evidence”.

Ms Sturgeon – who insisted on Thursday she has no regrets about ensuring complaints against her predecessor – has accused Mr Salmond of coming up with an “alternative reality” of “wild conspiracy” theories.

Mr Salmond will be grilled by MSPs for up to four hours when he appears at the Holyrood inquiry committee from 12.30pm on Friday. The former first minister is expected to detail his claims that Ms Sturgeon misled parliament over meetings related to him held in March and April 2018.

Alex Salmond will detail his claims on Friday afternoonGetty Images
Alex Salmond will detail his claims on Friday afternoonGetty Images

It comes as another senior SNP figure loyal to Mr Salmond accused Ms Sturgeon of a separate and “grave” breach of the Scottish ministerial code.

Jim Sillars, former deputy SNP leader, claimed she had failed to uphold the “highest standards of behaviour” with comments she made in the Scottish parliament.

Earlier this week Ms Sturgeon stated: “The behaviour they complained of was found by a jury not to constitute criminal conduct, and Alex Salmond is innocent of criminality.

“But that doesn’t mean that the behaviour they claimed of didn’t happen, and I think it’s important that we don’t lose sight of that.”

Mr Sillars has written to Scottish government’s permanent secretary to claim those remarks meant Ms Sturgeon had “egregiously questioned the verdict of a jury” in the criminal case against Mr Salmond.

On Friday the UK justice secretary Robert Buckland defended the role of Scotland’s Crown Office – under fire from opposition party politicians in Scotland over its request to have Mr Salmond’s evidence redacted.

“It’s very important for everybody to step back and look at their respective roles and make sure the integrity and independence of institutions like the Crown Office … are maintained.”

Mr MacAskill told Sky News he thought individuals at the Crown Office had “acted inappropriately” during the saga, and said “lines had been crossed” by the prosecution service into political matters.

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