Inquiry into the Scottish Government’s Handling of Harassment Complaints (Co-operation)

– in the Scottish Parliament on 20th August 2020.

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Photo of Jackie Baillie Jackie Baillie Labour

In January 2019, the First Minister said in the chamber that she would co-operate fully with the parliamentary inquiry into the Government’s handling of sexual harassment cases. She said:

“The inquiries will be able to request whatever material they want, and I undertake today that we will provide whatever material they request ... My commitment is that the Government and I will co-operate fully with it”.—[

Official Report

, 17 January 2019; c 14.]

Given that swathes of documents are heavily redacted and that the Scottish Government is refusing access to key documents relating to the core of the inquiry’s remit, I hope that the First Minister will want to stand by her earlier commitment. Will she now instruct from the Scottish Government the full co-operation that is currently missing?

Photo of Nicola Sturgeon Nicola Sturgeon Scottish National Party

This is a really serious issue. I am absolutely committed to fully complying with the inquiry. I will personally attend the committee to answer questions when I am asked to do so. I have already submitted written evidence to the committee, and it is for the committee to decide when and to what extent that is published.

Given that part of the committee remit is to look at my conduct, I have recused myself from any decision making in terms of the Government’s interaction with the committee, so I am not going to instruct the Government, because it would not be appropriate for me to do so. The Government will, I am sure, continue to co-operate fully and within the legal obligations that it operates under, and to make available the maximum amount of information that it can to the committee. I am absolutely committed to abiding by the committee’s processes.

Sometimes, I wonder whether everybody is so committed.

The other day, a Conservative member of the committee issued a political press release about the evidence taking of the committee, which suggests that the member is not prepared to abide by the processes of the committee and, perhaps, that the member has made up their mind about the outcome of the inquiry before the committee even gets there.

I will respect and fully co-operate with the committee. I hope that other members around the chamber will do so as well.