A police chief tried to mobilise his force's top anti-terrorism officer and senior criminal justice figures in an attempt to undermine damning research into stop and search.

Assistant chief constable (ACC) Wayne Mawson also wanted to enlist the Lord Advocate as part of a sixteen-point plan to weaken the impact of an academic's findings into Police Scotland's frisking policy.

The revelation was contained in an email deleted by the single force and only retrieved during an investigation by the Scottish Information Commissioner (SIC).

Kath Murray, as part of her PhD at Edinburgh University, exposed the force's extensive use of stop and search in a report published in January last year.

Her research revealed how: citizens in Scotland were four times more likely to be searched than those living in England; hundreds of children had been frisked; and that the overwhelming majority of searches had no legal basis.

As earlier revealed by the Sunday Herald, the Scottish Government tried to water down the report and Police Scotland staged a press event two days before Murray's publication date in a bid to pre-empt the findings.

However, following a freedom of information request, Police Scotland refused to hand over all communications relating to the press conference, a stand-off that ended up with the SIC.

In her judgement, the Commissioner revealed that a relevant set of emails had been deleted by Police Scotland and she ordered disclosure.

According to the emails, the press conference was one part of a sixteen-pronged approach to neuter Murray's report.

Mawson, a protégé of chief constable Stephen House, wrote to fellow police chiefs, divisional commanders and an in-house spin doctor days before Murray's report was published, saying: "Thanks very much for changing your diaries at short notice and coming in early this morning...."

He enclosed a series of "actions" that he and other top officers had agreed.

He noted that fellow ACC Malcolm Graham would "discuss" with the Lord Advocate a possible "public statement" on consensual searches, a practice the Murray report criticised. No endorsement was received.

Mawson also wrote that he would speak to deputy chief constable Neil Richardson about a statement from the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (PIRC) - a body that investigates the police.

He was also in the lead for exploring whether a QC could look at the legality of "consensual" searches.

Ruaraidh Nicolson, the ACC for organised crime and counter-terrorism, was tasked with sounding out policing expert Karyn McCluskey about writing a "comms [communications] piece" before the Murray report, and to persuade retired senior officer John Carnochan to do the same after the research came out.

The email also stated that the embargoed report should be shared with officials in the Scottish Police Federation and Association of Scottish Police Superintendents, with a view to getting "positive comms" from the organisations.

In addition, Mawson wanted "positive" newspaper articles two days before the Murray report, and asked for ten key differences between Scotland and England that would make comparisons "unhelpful".

So-called "positive messaging" were also sought from another academic researcher - presumably to counter Murray - as well as statistics linking stop and search to a "significant" fall in homicides.

In the end, many of the ideas flopped, apart from pushing ahead with a press conference and seeking support from an academic and a charity chief.

At the press event, a relative of a knife crime victim was persuaded to support the policy.

An email between officers, which the force tried to keep secret, explained the thinking behind the presence of a bereaved family member: "This will be with a view to providing the thoughts of victims as to the benefits of Stop/Search and that their loss may have been preventable etc had the Police managed to reduce the possibility of the assailant in their case carrying a knife."

The force also succeeded in locating an academic with a favourable attitude towards the policy.

Professor Ross Deuchar at the University of the West of Scotland liaised closely with the force in the week of the Murray report, and got a positive article on stop and search published in a daily newspaper.

In his piece, Deuchar advised the media and politicians against comparing policing issues north and south of the border.

"They need to realise that comparing policing issues in Scotland with what is happening in England is a bit like comparing apples and oranges."

Three weeks later, Mawson used the same analogy to argue against cross-border comparisons, saying: "It's apples and oranges, really."

Jackie Brock, the chief executive of Children in Scotland, provided a helpful quote for use by Police Scotland.

In an email released as a result of the SIC investigation, Brock also downplayed the comparisons between Scotland and England.

"It is not a police practice which causes significant concern in Scotland although there are probably pockets where there have been concerns. Nevertheless, comparisons with London are ridiculous and I would be really surprised if this report is more than a one-off and won't gain traction."

However, the report did gain traction and it is credited with having led to the search policy being fundamentally overhauled.

Scottish Liberal Democrat justice spokesperson Alison McInnes MSP said: "When faced with research highlighting an explosion in stop and search in Scotland, senior police and government figures chose to manage the media impact instead of learn lessons.

"These emails seem to show Police Scotland scheming to aggressively defend their actions to save face when it should have been reviewing how to make stop and search work without intruding on the lives of innocent civilians."

Brock said: "My comments were in relation to the linking in the media of Kath Murray's research with unacceptable use of stop and search by the London Metropolitan Police. I did not, and still do not, believe that such comparisons are helpful or valid in understanding the Scottish context.

"As evidence emerged, following the report, of widespread and, at times, indiscriminate use of stop and search in Scotland, I ensured that Children in Scotland played a full part in calling for an end to this; to the adherence of the UN Convention of Rights of the Child and to a return by the police of appropriate community policing which builds support among all members of the community and especially its children and young people."

A Police Scotland spokesman said: "In line with good academic practice, Police Scotland and other interested party would expect to be sent a copy of any report for fact-checking, to ensure data referred to was accurate."