Alex Salmond’s show on a Kremlin disinformation outlet may end his bid to join the board of The Scotsman’s parent company.

The former first minister had been tipped to chair Johnston Press if businessman Christen Ager-Hanssen succeeded in a bid to take control of the business.

Some shareholders considering the bid are said to be uncomfortable with Mr Salmond’s association with RT, a channel which has promoted conspiracy theories such as that 9/11 was a CIA inside job.

Ashley Highfield, Johnston Press’s current chief executive, told the Sunday Times: “The fact that Salmond seems to be in bed with the Russians would go against our belief in the editorial independence of our titles.

“We have had a number of readers and advertisers saying they would cancel their subscription or their business if Salmond went onto the board.”

Mr Salmond has dismissed claims that he legitimises RT by appearing on the channel. His own production company makes his chat show and he insists he has editorial control. His programme this week was overlaid by ticker headlines supporting Russian policy.

Mr Salmond is not the first former politician to host a show on RT. George Galloway was paid £100,000 for doing so.

The Observer this weekend revealed how MPs were paid up to £1000 an hour from RT for appearances.

David Davies, the Brexit minister, received £750 an hour to guest on the channel’s The News Thing show. He said he did not regret it. He said: “The News Thing has given me a fair chance to explain my opinions on Brexit, immigration and transgender issues. Sadly, I have not received the same courtesy from the BBC.”

Experts have long stressed the importance for Kremlin propaganda of undermining the BBC - which reports openly about corruption and human rights abuses on its Russian language service.

Labour’s David Lammy took £1000 an hour but is understood to have decided not to go back on RT. The Observer said the House of Commons register showed 10 MPs had received payments for RT appearances.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and UKIP’s Nigel Farage have both also appeared, although there was no information on whether they had been paid.

It is not known how much Mr Salmond will earn from his show.