Tory MSP Oliver Mundell has been ejected from Holyrood’s debating chamber after refusing to apologise for saying Nicola Sturgeon had “lied to parliament”.
Mr Mundell raised a point of order referring to comments made by the First Minister in January about making evidence available to the inquiry into harassment complaints against Alex Salmond.
He claimed she had lied when promising the Scottish Government’s full co-operation with the inquiry.
Mr Mundell then refused to withdraw his accusation that “she lied to Parliament” when challenged by Presiding Officer Ken Mackintosh, who told him to leave.
Holyrood’s Committee on the Scottish Government Handling of Harassment Complaints has suggested it is facing “obstruction” because of a lack of evidence.
Committee convener Linda Fabiani said the investigation is being “completely frustrated” because it is still waiting for information from the Scottish Government, SNP chief executive and Ms Sturgeon’s husband Peter Murrell, and former first minister Mr Salmond.
Raising the point of order, Mr Mundell said: “In this chamber on January 19, the First Minister said the Salmond inquiries will be able to request whatever material they want and I undertake today that we will provide whatever material they request.
“Will the Presiding Officer ask the First Minister why she lied to parliament?”
Mr Macintosh asked Mr Mundell, MSP for Dumfriesshire, to apologise for using the term “lie”.
He also said the issue is being looked at by the committee, and Mr Mundell could raise the matter with the committee or ask the question during parliamentary debates.
Mr Mundell said he apologised to Mr Macintosh personally, but felt that it was the “appropriate word”, adding: “I can’t find anything else that would express the sentiment.”
When asked again to rephrase his remarks “without personalising and making pejorative terms which are disrespectful to other members”, he said that he could not withdraw the word and that it was “disrespectful to the parliament for the First Minister to make a promise and not to keep it.”
Mr Macintosh said he felt that the language used was not acceptable and asked Mr Mundell to leave the chamber.
Asked about the claim that Ms Sturgeon had misled Parliament over the Government’s co-operation with the inquiry, a Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “These claims are demonstrably false.
“The First Minister has agreed to personally give evidence to the committee – and as we have made clear, not only is the Government providing all possible material to the committee, we intend to initiate legal proceedings seeking to allow the release of further documents.”
Mr Mundell, the MSP for Dumfriesshire, also sparked a row in the debating chamber last month when he called Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing a “sub-optimal chicken”.
The comment drew angry responses from Deputy First Minister John Swinney, as well as Mr Ewing’s sister, fellow SNP MSP Annabelle Ewing.
During detailed scrutiny of the Agriculture (Retained EU Law and Data) (Scotland) Bill, Mr Mundell insisted: “The only thing Scottish farmers have to fear is the sub-optimal chicken sitting in the Cabinet Secretary’s chair that refuses to take the big decisions.”
On that occasion, Mr Macintosh ruled the remark was a “metaphor, not a personal insult”, although he said it was “borderline” whether it was acceptable.
However Mr Swinney said: “I do think the comment Mr Mundell made was inappropriate in a parliamentary context.”
The Deputy First Minister insisted the Conservative’s comment fell “well below what is an acceptable comment”, and said permitting the remarks could result in a “lowering of standards in the national Parliament”.
Ms Ewing then intervened, telling the Tory: “To call my brother a sub-optimal chlorinated chicken, I just think my 12-year-old niece would be hugely unimpressed with you Mr Mundell.”
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