SNP’s ‘nightmare before Christmas’ leaves Humza Yousaf and Sturgeon reeling

The SNP has been left reeling by a “nightmare before Christmas” after judges rejected an attempt to block the publication of details about whether Nicola Sturgeon broke ministerial code.

The defeat capped a bad day for the SNP which also saw former leadership candidate Kate Forbes call for the coalition deal with the Greens to be axed.

The latest paper on Scottish independence was also mauled by critics as a work of “fantasy fiction” and ministers had an emergency meeting to discuss a tax hike on high-earning Scots.

After the inquiry into the Alex Salmond affair, James Hamilton concluded that Ms Sturgeon had not broken the code – although a committee of MSPs found that she had inadvertently misled them, our sister paper the Scottish Daily Express reports.

Hamilton, a lawyer and independent advisor on the code, expressed frustration that his report had been heavily redacted and a member of the public asked for the full version to be released.

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The SNP refused, claiming they did not have the unredacted version. The Scottish Information Commission sided with the member of the public but ministers appealed to the Court of Session.

The court rejected the appeal without even retiring to consider a verdict.

Judge Lord Carloway said: “We will give reasons for our decision in writing in early course, but in short the court is satisfied the information involved was held by the Scottish ministers in terms of the statute, and we will therefore refuse this appeal.”

The case relates to the handling of harassment complaints against Mr Salmond by the SNP government and Ms Sturgeon, dating back to 2018.

Their investigation was previously ruled to be “tainted with apparent bias” and Mr Salmond last week launched a new legal action alleging “malfeasance” by civil servants.

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His supporters believe there was an orchestrated attempt to destroy his reputation led by rivals within the SNP.

Further pressure was heaped on First Minister Humza Yousaf by the bombshell intervention from his former leadership rival Kate Forbes calling for the Greens to be ditched.

Scottish Conservative chairman Craig Hoy said: “Even by the standards of this year – an annus horribilis for the SNP – today was spectacularly grim for the Government.

“After a court defeat on an attempted cover-up, a senior ex-minister trashing their deal with the Greens, another fanciful indy paper and a budget black hole of their own making, it’s resembling a nightmare before Christmas for hapless Humza Yousaf.”

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