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

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.

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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