Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has hit out at fellow Scottish National Party (SNP) member Alex Salmond, referring to him as a 'sex pest.'
Ms. Sturgeon made the comments as she defended her handling of the sexual harassment case made against Mr. Salmond in early April of 2018, adding that his alleged behaviour was 'deeply inappropriate.'
While speaking to a Scottish parliament committee, she recalled the moment Mr. Salmond told her of the allegations made against him: 'My head was spinning, I was experiencing a maelstrom of emotions; I had been told something pretty shocking by Alex Salmond and there were a number of things in my head.'
Although Mr. Salmond was later acquitted of 13 charges following a criminal trial, Ms. Sturgeon told fellow politicians that it was ‘absolutely right’ that the Scottish Government investigated the complaints.
She explained: ‘An individual’s profile, status or connections should not result in complaints of this nature being ignored or swept under the carpet, [and] that in this case it was a former first minister does not change that.’
Sturgeon admitted that she acted 'properly and appropriately' in the handling of the harassment claims, and further apologised to both the public and the women who came forward with allegations of sexual harassment against her predecessor.
‘Two women were failed and taxpayers’ money was lost, I deeply regret that,' she said.
Her comments come as she faces a vote of no confidence over the Alex Salmond case.
Documents which were shared recently show that legal counsel advised the Scottish Government to concede to Mr. Salmond more than two months before their legal battle collapsed.
However, they went ahead with the case anyway, and were later made to concede, with the former First Minister being awarded more than £600,000 (€ 694,074) in costs and damages.
In addition, Ms. Sturgeon is now being accused of lying to parliament, with her critics alleging that she misled Parliament about a meeting between her and Mr. Salmond in evidence to the committee.
Sturgeon has since denied these claims, and has defended herself by saying that she did not 'immediately record the 2 April meeting' with Salmond as she did not want to risk 'breaching the confidentiality of the process.'
If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, you can call Samaritans Ireland at 116 123 or email email@example.com, or you can contact the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre by clicking here.
Help is always at hand and there is always someone available to listen.