Scotland’s future hangs as an independent report awaited

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Scotland's future hangs as an independent report awaited
Scotland's future hangs as an independent report awaited :File Photo

An independent report expected to rule on whether First Minister broke a ministerial code of conduct will be published later on Monday.

If the report says Sturgeon knowingly broke the code of conduct, she would be expected to resign, which could have seismic consequences for Scottish politics and the future of the United Kingdom.

Scottish elections are due in May, and Sturgeon has vowed to press for an independence referendum if her Scottish National Party (SNP) wins an absolute majority. If she is forced out and the SNP falls short of a majority, the momentum for a referendum could be lost.

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The report by independent adviser James Hamilton, a senior lawyer, examines how Sturgeon and her administration handled allegations of sexual harassment against her predecessor Alex Salmond.

Salmond was once Sturgeon’s close friend and political ally, with the pair forming a powerful partnership campaigning for the cause of Scottish independence. But they have turned on each other and their feud is jeopardising their shared dream.

Salmond accuses Sturgeon of being part of a conspiracy to drive him from public life, a claim she has rejected as absurd.

The Scottish government said it had received Hamilton’s report and was completing legally required checks before publishing it.

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“James Hamilton has submitted a note with his report in which he states that he understands that it will be necessary for the Scottish Government to make redactions before publication, to comply with court orders and avoid jigsaw identification,” the government said.

It was referring to the identities of the women who complained about Salmond.

Scots voted against independence from the United Kingdom by 55%-45% in 2014. On Monday, the Scottish government published a draft independence referendum bill which Sturgeon’s Scottish National Party said it would seek to pass in the first half of the next parliament should it win May’s election.