Nicola Sturgeon has indicated her discomfort at dealing with the sexual harassment allegations made against Alex Salmond as she denied being aware of complaints being swept under the carpet.
At First Minister's Questions, Ms Sturgeon was asked about last week's reports suggesting that a harassment claim against Mr Salmond was first investigated five years ago.
It was reported that Mr Salmond apologised to the female complainant for a “misunderstanding” following the incident at Bute House in 2013. According to reports, the woman accepted the apology and no action was taken against the then First Minister.
Earlier this year, civil servants ordered another investigation into the incident along with a complaint from another woman. The fresh investigation came on the back of a review of Scottish Government policies in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal.
The Scottish Government has said there were “no recorded complaints” against Mr Salmond before January this year.
At Holyrood, Ms Sturgeon said the new “Fairness at Work” procedure was introduced to prevent harassment claims being swept under the carpet.
Mr Salmond was not mentioned by name at First Minister's Questions, but Labour's Rhoda Grant asked Ms Sturgeon about “press reports that some historic complaints were not recorded and not dealt with appropriately or taken seriously”.
The Labour MSP added that “if this is indeed the case perpetrators may have gone without challenge” before asking if Ms Sturgeon was aware of such cases.
“No,” replied the First Minister. “I am not aware of any complaint having been swept under the carpet. Let me be very clear as First Minister I would not tolerate that being the case. Indeed it is because I believe and believe so strongly that complaints shouldn't be swept under the carpet that I signed off the new procedure in December.
“I am very clear and have been consistently clear, as has the Permanent Secretary of the Scottish Government, that when complaints are raised they should be properly investigated no matter the seniority or the political affiliation of the person being complained about. What is important in all cases is that there is due process applied.”
Shona Robison of the SNP then asked Ms Sturgeon to condemn the “utterly disgraceful” behaviour of Donald Trump and US senators for effectively putting a woman, who claimed to be an abuse victim, “on trial”.
Ms Sturgeon said she was “horrified” by events on the other side of the Atlantic.
Ms Sturgeon went on to draw a comparison with the challenges she faces as a result of the claims against Mr Salmond.
She said: “I think in this area, leadership is very important and these issues are not always comfortable. I perhaps know that more than most at this point.
“But it is at times when things are not comfortable that leaders are tested about whether their rhetoric is just that or whether they are prepared to put that into action. I think it is really important that when people come forward with complaints they are not put on trial but there is due process for all concerned.”