Nicola Sturgeon aides: Who are the five Sturgeon aides hit by Alex Salmond accusations?

Nicola Sturgeon gets asked about Alex Salmond’s allegations

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Nicola Sturgeon and Alex Salmond are embroiled in a bitter dispute with the latter accusing Ms Sturgeon of breaching the ministerial code, which could force her to resign from her position. After being charged with 13 counts of sexual assault, Mr Salmond was cleared of all charges following a trial. Mr Salmond claimed Ms Sturgeon made “deliberate fabrications for a political purpose” about her knowledge of the allegations.

Who are Ms Sturgeon and Mr Salmond?

Nicola Sturgeon is the current Scottish First Minister, who took on this position from Mr Salmond in 2014.

Mr Salmond was Scotland’s first minister and leader of the Scottish National Party.

Ms Sturgeon had been Mr Salmond’s deputy at that time.

What is the controversy between Ms Sturgeon and Mr Salmond about?

Ms Sturgeon and Mr Salmond’s row began when the latter faced allegations of sexual harassment in 2018, which he strongly denied.

The complaints were made about Mr Salmond after Ms Sturgeon asked for new Government policies on sexual harassment to be addressed in the wake of the #MeToo movement.

The former first minister believed the policy was aimed at him.

Mr Salmond and his supporters claim Ms Sturgeon had misled Scottish Parliament over the inquiry into the allegations.

They accused her of conspiring to bring down Mr Salmond, but Ms Sturgeon denied these claims.

The Scottish Government later admitted it had botched the investigation and was forced to pay Mr Salmond’s legal fees and admit it had acted unlawfully.

In January 2019, Mr Salmond was arrested and charged with multiple counts of sexual assault, including rape.

Mr Salmond was cleared of all 13 charges after a trial in March 2020.

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In the wake of the trial, two separate inquiries were launched.

One of the inquiries, led by a committee of MSPs, was looking into the Scottish Government’s handling of the complaints against Mr Salmond.

SNP chief executive Peter Murrell, who is also Ms Sturgeon’s husband, has been accused by opposition politicians of lying about meetings between his wife and Mr Salmond in their Glasgow home.

The second inquiry, led by James Hamilton QC, Ireland’s former director of public prosecutions, is examining whether Ms Sturgeon breached the ministerial code.

A meeting held between Ms Sturgeon and Mr Salmond’s former chief of staff Geoff Aberdein is under the spotlight in this inquiry.

Part of Mr Salmond’s testimony explains how Ms Sturgeon met his chief of staff to discuss the sexual allegations four days earlier than she told Parliament she had.

His team claim that there is evidence she orchestrated the investigation into sexual assault allegations and subsequent prosecution to stop his political comeback.

Mr Salmond’s evidence alleges there was a “deliberate, prolonged, malicious and concerted effort among a range of individuals within the Scottish Government and the SNP to damage my reputation, even to the extent of having me imprisoned”.

The former Scottish first minister also names five of Ms Sturgeon’s top aides as conspirators, accusing them of colluding against him in a “malicious” plot to have him charged with 13 counts of sexual assault.

Who are the five Sturgeon aides hit by Alex Salmond accusations?

Mr Salmond names the five aides as SNP chief executive Peter Murrell, who is also Ms Sturgeon’s husband; principal policy adviser Leslie Evans; chief of staff Liz Lloyd; compliance officer Ian McCann, and chief operating officer Sue Ruddick. All of them deny any wrongdoing.

Peter Murrell

Mr Murrell, 56, has been the chief executive of the SNP since 1999.

During his career, he worked in the Banff and Buchan constituency office of the former first minister.

He met Ms Sturgeon in 1988 at a constituency office and the couple began dating in 2003.

They were later married in 2010 in Glasgow.

Leslie Evans

Ms Evans, 62, is the head of Scotland’s civil service, meaning she is the senior civil servant in Scotland and leads more than 5,000 civil servants.

She is expected to face backlash in a report on Holyrood’s handling of Mr Salmond’s case.

There are reportedly plans underway to get her out of office earlier than her scheduled time next spring.

A source told The Sunday Times MSPs on the special committee are ‘preparing to throw her under a bus’.

Liz Lloyd

Ms Lloyd has been a special adviser and chief of staff to Ms Sturgeon for nine and six years, respectively.

Before taking up these positions, she was head of the SNP’s media operations for four years.

She has faced a lot of criticism and controversy during her career, including being blasted for tweeting criticism of Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

She has been accused of being part of a “witch hunt” by Mr Salmond.

Ian McCann

Mr McCann is the point of contact at SNP HQ in Edinburgh.

He often retweets First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and is followed by SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford.

Sue Ruddick

Ms Ruddick is the chief operating officer for the SNP.

Prior to this position, she worked in London as chief of staff for the SNP Westminster Group before moving up to Scotland.

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