Alex Salmond has called on an independent investigator to widen his probe into whether Nicola Sturgeon breached the ministerial code.
The former first minister said James Hamilton should be able to examine claims Sturgeon misled Parliament amid a row over a meeting she had relating to allegations against Salmond.
A Holyrood committee is investigating how in 2018 Sturgeon’s Government handled complaints of sexual misconduct against Salmond when he was First Minister.
Salmond pursued a judicial review and it was agreed the Government probe had been unlawful and tainted by apparent bias.
The bungled investigation cost the public purse over £500,000 and destroyed the long-standing friendship between Salmond and Sturgeon.
Separately, Hamilton, who is the Independent Adviser on the Ministerial Code, is looking at issues raised by the meetings Sturgeon and Salmond had when the misconduct probe was ongoing.
The First Minister’s judgement has been called into question and she has faced calls to disclose exactly what was discussed.
She has also been criticised for not initially disclosing a meeting she had had with Salmond’s former chief of staff, Geoff Aberdein.
Part of Hamilton’s remit includes determining whether there is evidence Sturgeon tried to use information discussed during those meetings to “influence the conduct of the investigation”.
In a sign of the escalating tensions between Salmond and Sturgeon, the former First Minister has questioned the remit:
“The remit given to your investigation by the Deputy First Minister lays a surprising stress on whether she interfered in the Scottish Government investigation. It might even be suspected that this remit has been set up as a straw man to knock down.”
“There is no general bar on Ministers intervening in a civil service process of which I am aware and indeed there are occasions when Ministers are actually required by the code to intervene to correct civil service behaviour.”
Salmond also called on the remit to be extended: “What I wish to know is whether matters which, by contrast, are specified in the Ministerial code such as the primary responsibility of not misleading Parliament (contrary to 1.3 (c) of the code), such as the failure to act on legal advice suggesting the Government was at risk of behaving unlawful (contrary to 2.30 of the code), and such as the Ministerial failure to ensure civil servants gave truthful information to parliament (contrary to 1.3 (e) of the code) will have at least equal status in your deliberations or are you confined to the political remit which you have been set?"
He added: “If your enquiry has been confined by Ministers then please tell me if you have the authority to expand that remit unilaterally? If not, will you seek the authority of those in the Scottish Government who set the remit to expand it into these, and other, areas?”
Salmond also revealed he is representing himself directly in relation to the independent advisor's probe:
“I am a private individual and simply cannot afford to hire further legal representation as my lawyers are fully occupied dealing with the Scottish Parliamentary Inquiry.
“Vast sums of public funds have already been expended by Scottish Government officials in legal representation in this process. I am also informed that other witnesses are relying on their political party to finance their legal representation.”