Crunch time for SNP as Sturgeon and Salmond’s rift comes under scrutiny

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Two inquiries into what the first minister knew about claims against her predecessor threaten to split party ahead of crucial polls

As Alex Salmond exchanged a modest elbow bump with his QC, Gordon Jackson, following his acquittal on 13 charges of sexual assault at Edinburgh’s high court, the backdrop was a desolate Royal Mile, emptied of its usual tourist bustle by the encroaching pandemic last March.

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The verdict in the nine-day trial of Scotland’s former first minister, who led the country to the brink of independence, ought to have dominated headlines for days: instead it was relegated within hours as a nationwide lockdown was announced.

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