The Scottish First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, has been released from police custody without charge after being questioned for several hours over allegations of misconduct in public office. The allegations relate to her handling of complaints against her former mentor and predecessor, Alex Salmond, who was acquitted of sexual assault charges last year.

Sturgeon has denied any wrongdoing and said she welcomed the opportunity to clear her name. She said she had cooperated fully with the police and provided them with all the relevant information and documents. She also thanked her supporters and colleagues for their solidarity and trust.

The police said they had conducted a thorough and impartial investigation into the matter and found no evidence of criminality on Sturgeon’s part. They said they had consulted with the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS), which is responsible for prosecuting crimes in Scotland, and decided not to pursue any charges against her.

The COPFS confirmed that it had received a report from the police and that it had instructed them to take no further action. It said it had applied the same test as it does in every case, which is whether there is sufficient evidence and whether prosecution is in the public interest.

The outcome of the police investigation is a major boost for Sturgeon, who is facing a separate inquiry by the Scottish Parliament into whether she breached the ministerial code of conduct over the Salmond affair. She is expected to give evidence to the inquiry later this month.

Sturgeon has also faced calls for her resignation from opposition parties, who accuse her of lying to parliament and misleading the public about her involvement in the Salmond case. They claim she knew about the allegations against Salmond earlier than she admitted and that she failed to act appropriately.

Sturgeon has rejected these claims and said she acted with integrity and in good faith throughout the process. She has also accused some of her critics of pursuing a political vendetta against her and trying to undermine her leadership.

Sturgeon has been widely praised for her handling of the coronavirus pandemic in Scotland, where she has imposed stricter lockdown measures than in other parts of the UK. She has also been campaigning for a second referendum on Scottish independence, which she says is necessary to protect Scotland’s interests after Brexit.

Sturgeon’s supporters have rallied behind her and expressed their relief and satisfaction at the outcome of the police investigation. They have also urged her to continue leading Scotland through the pandemic and towards independence.

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