Nicola Sturgeon and Alex Salmond were last night openly at war after the former first minister won a bruising £500,000 legal case against his successor’s Government

Mr Salmond repeatedly called for Ms Sturgeon’s most senior civil servant to consider her position after the investigation she oversaw into sexual misconduct claims against him collapsed. 

He blamed Permanent Secretary Leslie Evans for a “botched mess” that had left taxpayers with a legal bill of more than half a million pounds.

However, Ms Sturgeon insisted she had “full confidence” in Ms Evans, and told Holyrood the vast majority of the Government’s probe into Mr Salmond had been “fair and robust”. 

She also warned the Government could re-run its investigation into Mr Salmond and apologised to the two women who alleged he harassed them in 2013 for the flawed procedure.

Revealing she had not spoken to her mentor for six months, she stressed Mr Salmond’s judicial review had been about the Government’s complaints process, not the substance of the complaints against him or the credibility of his accusers.

“This is not a victory for anyone,” she  told MSPs, pointedly contradicting Mr Salmond’s earlier declaration of victory and his reference to the government’s “abject surrender”. 

The Scottish Conservatives claimed an “SNP civil war” was being played out at the taxpayers’ expense, a charge Ms Sturgeon said was “ludicrous”.

It followed the Government admitting at the Court of Session that the investigating officer appointed to examine the complaints had been in prior contact with Mr Salmond’s accusers, fatally tainting the process.

Addressing a media throng outside court, Mr Salmond, who denies sexual harassment, called on Ms Evans to consider her position.

He said: “I’m not putting out the bunting. Yes, I’m glad to have won. I’m really, really sad to have been forced to take this action against a Government I led for almost eight years.”

Asked about Ms Sturgeon’s part in the process, he said she “should concentrate on achieving independence for Scotland, particularly in the current political circumstance”.

He hinted he may now sue for damages.