Cronyism claim after writer Val McDermid hosts book launch at Nicola Sturgeon’s official residence

A detective writer who is friends with Nicola Sturgeon has been authorized to host a book launch at the Prime Minister’s official residence.

The SNP leader has been charged with cronyism after hosting the Val McDermid event at Bute House in Edinburgh.

McDermid is one of Scotland’s most famous authors and has sold over 17 million books worldwide.

She’s a staunch supporter of Sturgeon and spoke out in his favor on a TV show about her battle with Alex Salmond earlier this year.

The two are often described as close friends and appeared together to discuss books at a crime writing festival in Yorkshire.

A Labor source said: ‘If you are the Prime Minister’s pal, you can start your book – a business venture – at Bute House. I don’t think this privilege is extended to Joe Public, so it sounds like cronyism. McDermid insisted the event was paid for by its editor.

She said: “The My Scotland book launch, which was held at Bute House, was paid for in full – room rental, staff costs, drinks and canapes – by my publisher, Little, Brown and Company .

“They asked for this because Bute House is in the book. I imagine the Scottish government made a profit overnight.

Bute House in Edinburgh

Marketing material for My Scotland states that McDermid “takes readers to the places where his stories and characters reside.”

Detectives are examining claims rules that were broken after money was turned over to support Inverness-based Sandstone Press by the government agency Highlands and Islands Enterprise. The book Women Hold Up Half The Sky – a collection of speeches by the Prime Minister – was promoted in the run-up to the May election and includes a preface by McDermid.

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The company, run by SNP supporter Robert Davidson, denies any wrongdoing.

Labor MP Neil Bibby said: ‘Serious questions need to be asked as to why a public building, backed by taxpayer money, was used to launch a commercial novel.

“We cannot have one rule for the Prime Minister’s supporters and another for the rest of us.”

Val McDermid's book My Scotland.
Val McDermid’s book My Scotland.

Scottish Conservative culture spokesman Donald Cameron said: ‘This appears to be another event related to the promotion of the book which the SNP has not been candid about. There are serious questions the SNP must answer as to why this well-known party supporter was allowed to promote her book at the Prime Minister’s official home. “

A spokesperson for the Prime Minister said: “These comments are quite pathetic. The event for the book in question was funded by the publishers, not the taxpayer – and it took place at Bute House because it is in the book.

“The Prime Minister is a longtime champion of Scotland’s thriving literary scene and… has been involved in countless events celebrating a wide range of Scottish writers, whatever their political persuasion.

Val McDermid is a strong supporter of Nicola Sturgeon.
Val McDermid is a strong supporter of Nicola Sturgeon.

The Scottish Government did not respond when we asked if it was normally possible to book Bute House for corporate events, how much it would cost or who Val McDermid’s agent paid for the event in June 2019.

Sturgeon’s Cabinet Secretary for Constitution, External Affairs and Culture Angus Robertson has come under fire after getting a spot to promote his book at the Borders Book Festival – funded by the Scottish Government department he heads.

He canceled after the Sunday Mail highlighted his appearance.

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