FIRST Minister Nicola Sturgeon has been accused of avoiding scrutiny over the Alex Salmond sexual harassment probe after she missed a key party summit yesterday.

The SNP leader was expected to discuss the Government’s botched investigation into claims about Salmond, but she was absent from the meeting.

Party veteran Jim Sillars said the no-show is symbolic of the SNP being a party based around a “cult of personality”.

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Sturgeon’s Government is under fire after it conceded that an investigation into claims of sexual misconduct against Salmond, which he denies, was flawed.

Salmond, who received the admission from the Government during a court challenge, has slammed the Government’s handling of the case.

It was reported on Saturday that Sturgeon would speak about the mounting crisis at a meeting of her party executive on the same day.

The summit took place in Glasgow, a city in which Sturgeon represents a constituency, but she was not present.

Sillars, a former deputy leader of the SNP, said a “cult of personality” in the SNP started when Salmond was leader and was transferred to Sturgeon:

“When it comes to holding the leader to account, like today [yesterday’s meeting], the party has no power to do so.”

Tory MSP Annie Wells said: “The fact that Nicola Sturgeon didn’t turn up to her own party’s national executive meeting is telling. Not only is she not explaining what happened to the general public, she’s not even explaining it to her own party.”

The SNP did not respond to this newspaper’s email.