Great Britain

Yanis Varoufakis rages at BBC Newsnight after he is cancelled for Nicola Sturgeon debate

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The former Greek finance minister announced on Tuesday he would be participating in a panel debate on the return of austerity in the UK on BBC Newsnight. Mr Varoufakis warned his followers on Twitter he "shall be on a panel with former chancellors Philip Hammond and Sajid Javid to discuss whether the UK Government must shift from largesse to some sort of austerity".

But as the broadcasters changed plans last minute, he was forced to inform his followers only two hours later he could no longer be seen on British television.

In a thinly-veiled swipe at the broadcasting corporation, he tweeted: "BBC Newsnight just cancelled this discussion. Scottish Government woes eclipsed the question of austerity's potential return."

To make his swipe at the BBC even more clear, Mr Varoufakis later reposted a tweet from one of his followers denouncing the BBC's relentless attempts to "stop the SNP".

The Twitter user wrote: "Or effort to stop SNP eclipses anything else BBC Newsnight might cover...

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Yanis Varoufakis was cancelled by BBC Newsnight for a debate on the SNP (Image: GETTY•YANIS VAROUFAKIS)

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Yanis Varoufakis defended Nicola Sturgeon (Image: GETTY)

"They haven't pursued the PM and ministers for lying repeatedly, on a weekly basis, to Parliament..."

The Greek politician moved on to defend the Scottish leader against accusations by her predecessor, Alex Salmond, that she acted illegally.

He wrote: "I have tried and tried to see what the real charge against Nicola Sturgeon is.

"But, for the life of me, I am failing to see anything beyond minor issues regarding who said what to whom in highly inconsequential meetings.

"Where? In a UK led by Boris Johnson?"

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The feud between Ms Sturgeon and former first minister Alex Salmond has reached fever pitch in recent weeks, pitting the former friends against each other in a sparring match that has prompted calls by opposition lawmakers for Sturgeon to resign.

The row stems from Ms Sturgeon's handling of the government's response to a sexual harassment case against Salmond and whether she misled parliament over the details of what she knew of the allegations against her predecessor and when she knew it.

At a parliamentary inquiry into the government's handling of the case against Salmond, Sturgeon defended herself from a series of allegations about her conduct, saying she would demonstrate in her evidence she had behaved properly.

In particular, she said she stood by a series of decisions that were made in relation to a judicial review which her government lost.

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Nicola Sturgeon accepted that a 'very serious mistake' was made when investigating the complaints against Mr Salmond (Image: GETTY)

She told the inquiry: "I will demonstrate that the decisions taken at each stage of it were legally sound."

Giving evidence to the Committee on the Scottish Government Handling of Harassment Complaints this morning, the SNP leader accepted that a "very serious mistake" was made when investigating the complaints against Mr Salmond.

As a result, she said "two women were failed and tax payers' money was lost, I deeply regret that."

The First Minister said: "Although I was not aware of the error at the time I am the head of the Scottish Government so I want to take this opportunity to say sorry to the two women involved and to the wider public."

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Nicola Sturgeon denied any wrongdoings ahead of her hearing (Image: GETTY)

Ms Sturgeon said that had she been informed of events on the March 29 meeting, "my actions wouldn't necessarily have been different".

She said: "Given what I was told about the distress Alex was in, and how it was suggested to me that he might be intending to handle matters, it is likely that I would have still agreed to meet him - as his friend and as his party leader.

"My decision not to record the meeting on April 2 immediately wasn't about the classification I gave it, not about it being a party rather than a government meeting, it was because I did not want to compromise the independence of the confidentiality of the process underway."

She explained that S4.22 and 4.23 of the ministerial code seek to guard against undisclosed outside influence on investigations that ministers are involved in.

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Nicola Sturgeon and Alex Salmond in 2015 (Image: GETTY)

She said: "The situation as I saw it was the opposite of that. The terms excluded me from any investigation into a former minister. I had no role in the process and should not even have known that an investigation was underway.

"So in my judgment, the undue influence that S4 is designed to avoid would be more likely to arise had those conducting the investigation been informed that I knew about it.

"I didn't want to take the risk that they would have been influenced even subconsciously by any assumption of how I might want the matter handled.

"Their ability to do the job independently would be best protected by me saying nothing."

Mr Salmond claimed Ms Sturgeon knew of sexual harassment claims made against him on March 29, 2018.

On April 2, 2018, Ms Sturgeon informed Holyrood of the complaints after claiming she had been informed of the allegations on that day.

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