SNP Government refuse to explain how bullying claims against ex-minister were resolved

Nicola Sturgeon has been criticised for saying her Government will only publish the findings of investigations into future complaints against Scottish ministers.

It means the Government will continue to refuse to reveal how past bullying claims against SNP MP Fergus Ewing were resolved.

Ewing was reportedly the subject of a bullying complaint by civil servants when he was Sturgeon’s Rural Economy and Tourism Cabinet Secretary.

READ MORE: SNP staff member called sex pest Patrick Grady’s victim ‘fantasist’ with drink problem during probe

The probe was finished last year, but the First Minister has refused to comment on the outcome.

She cited “GDPR privacy issues” and later said she could risk breaching the law by answering questions – a stance that left some experts scratching their heads.

At Holyrood, Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar asked why the outcome of conduct investigations are not released to the public despite findings being made accessible by the UK Parliament.

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar during First Minister's Questions
Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar during First Minister’s Questions

The First Minister said: “It is absolutely the case that we are limited in terms of what we can publish by legal requirements, data protection and confidentiality issues.

“That is not a situation I am comfortable with. I wasn’t comfortable with it, as people probably could see, when I answered these questions before, the last time I was asked about it.

She continued: “I asked for advice on whether in future there would be ways of making it possible for us to report publicly the outcome of complaints involving ministers and if there was a way of doing that without breaching the legal requirements that I have referred to.”

The First Minister said she had been advised that such details could be published in the future, but added the adaptations to the complaints process cannot be applied retrospectively.

Sarwar said: “I welcome this move – but it is convenient that it will apply only to future investigations and not previous investigations.

“Legal experts are clear that there is not a case for the government to hide behind GDPR when it comes to these complaints. It is perfectly reasonable to ask the Scottish Government to make clear the outcome of investigations into ministers.”

“No-one is asking to publish personal details of the victim, but it’s perfectly reasonable to ask the Scottish Government to make clear the outcome of investigations into Scottish ministers.”

Ewing, who is no longer a Minister, was asked by the Record recently if the Government should publish the findings.

He said: “I can’t add anything to what the First Minister has said.”

Asked why he could not, he replied: “I am bound by confidentiality.”

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