‘Let him finish!’ BBC Newsnight descends to chaotic shouting match between Labour and SNP

Anas Sarwar and the SNP’s John Nicolson exchanged a vicious war of words as host Emily Maitlis attempted to calm things down between the quarrelling politicians. Mr Nicolson alleged the Scottish Labour Party leaked details regarding Nicola Sturgeon at the Holyrood Committee before its official publication this week, which resulted in a huge row between him and Anas Sarwar. Neither of the MSP’s points were managed to be clearly heard as the BBC Newsnight host and the sound crew attempted to bring some order to the debate by cutting off the interruptions from either side.  

Mr Nicolson and Mr Sarwar debated the independent report from government advisor James Hamilton which found Nicola Sturgeon had not breached the ministerial code. 

After Mr Sarwar said he awaited the full committee report to be published, Mr Nicolson took aim at the Scottish Labour party leader.

Mr Nicolson said: “We’re talking as if we’re still to hear from Mr Hamilton, we’ve heard from him and his exact words were I am of the opinion that the First Minister did not breach the provisions of the ministerial code. 

“He has ruled Douglas [Ross], it is time to let it go. 

“And for Anas Sarwar to be saying he’s waiting with bated breath to find out exactly what’s going to happen in the committee report. 

“He must be the only person in the country who does not what is in the report because his colleagues in the committee have been leaking like there is no tomorrow.”

Ms Maitlis interjected to allow Mr Sarwar to respond to the allegations. 

He then replied: “Absolute nonsense, what you are doing there John is a deliberate tactic to call into question any committee inquiry that has happened by calling into question the reputation of individual members.”

The SNP MSP was heard saying he would never dream of disclosing private information from committees and alleged the Labour party were behind the Holyrood vote leak. 

Nicola Sturgeon gave evidence at the Alex Salmond inquiry and was asked for details on when she first heard about the harassment claims against Mr Salmond –  for which he was found not guilty. 

Opposition MSPs have been pushing for a no-confidence vote in Nicola Sturgeon if she was found to have misled Parliament over when she first found out the news.

The committee report – published this week – had parts leaked ahead of its publication which revealed the committee voted that Ms Sturgeon did mislead Parliament. 

However, Ms Sturgeon said the committee’s mind was “already made up” before she gave evidence and had been holding out for independent advisor James Hamilton to publish his findings before she made any decisions. 

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