Nicola Sturgeon says she took every step to remain distant from the Alex Salmond investigation.

The First Minister was quizzed by leaders of the opposition after the Scottish Government was forced to settle a legal case brought by former first minister Alex Salmond over the handling of sexual misconduct allegations against him.

READ MORE: Alison Rowat: Salmond shambles should be a wake up call for Scottish Government 

After it emerged the person appointed to investigate the complaints had had prior contact with the two women who had made them, the Court of Session in Edinburgh ruled the Scottish Government's actions were "unlawful in respect that they were procedurally unfair and that they were tainted with apparent bias".

The First Minister said when questioned by acting leader of the Scottish Conservatives that it was 'self-evident' that she didn't intervene.

She said that there was an inconsistency in her being accused by Mr Salmond of a conspiracy against him while being accused by others of a conspiracy in his favour.

Mr Carlaw insisted that the First Minister had become involved in the complaints process against her predecessor, after meeting with him three times and discussing the issue in two phone calls with him.

READ MORE: Calls for public inquiry into "unlawful" handling of sexual misconduct complaints against Alex Salmond 

Speaking on meetings with Alex Salmond, Jackson Carlaw said that "this whole sorry business doesn't stack up" and that the First Minister should have declined to meet Mr Salmond as part of the investigation. 

The Conservative told Ms Sturgeon: "Discussing the case with the subject of the investigation on five separate occasions is surely getting involved, isn't it?"
Mr Carlaw argued: "Meeting the subject of a complaint is getting involved in my book, First Minister, and I am surprised that you don't appreciate that as well."

Mr Carlaw argued: "Meeting the subject of a complaint is getting involved in my book, First Minister, and I am surprised that you don't appreciate that as well."

The First Minister said the discussions between her and Mr Salmond on the matter were not Scottish Government business, but party business.

Commenting on this, Mr Carlaw said: "Her position appears to be a meeting between the First Minister of the government and the former first minister of the government, about a government investigation, involving two government employees was not government business. Really, how?"

After he pressed the SNP leader on whether others were present at the meetings, Ms Sturgeon revealed her chief of staff Liz Lloyd accompanied her at the first one, adding that Mr Salmond was also represented.

Ms Sturgeon stressed: "Of course, my chief of staff is a special adviser who also has the ability to assist me in party matters."

Ms Sturgeon added: "The fact that I had no role in the Government process is why it wouldn't have been appropriate for the meetings to be government meetings.

"I have responsibilities as party leader, as other leaders do."
She insisted to MSPs: "I acted appropriately. I absolutely accept there are others who think I made wrong judgements along the way, and that is absolutely their entitlement.

"But I made the judgements that I made, I will stand by and defend those judgements, and I will be absolutely adamant that I did not intervene in this process and it would have been entirely inappropriate for me to have done so."

The First Minister added: "Since I found out about the investigation I have tried to do the right thing in a situation which, no matter what happened, was never going to be easy for me.

"The most important thing here has always been, and continues to be, the complaints that were made and the people who made those complaints."
Mr Carlaw went on to call for a Scottish Parliament inquiry into the matter, saying: "If the Government won't explain convincingly what has happened - and the First Minister today frankly hasn't - then I and others believe parliament should be given the authority to do so."

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said: "Labour backs a parliamentary inquiry because serious questions do need to be answered."

He added: "On Tuesday the First Minister invited us to judge her decision to hold a serious of meetings and discussions about these cases, with Alex Salmond.

"First Minister, that was a grave error of judgement but it was also a clear potential breach of the ministerial code of conduct.

"After the events of this week, people need to have trust and confidence in the system and that's why the First Minister herself should back a full parliamentary inquiry. It's why she should refer herself today to the panel of independent advisers on the Scottish ministerial code."

Ms Sturgeon said: "It is entirely for Parliament, rightly and properly for Parliament to decide what it wants to inquire into and look into, and ministers and government officials will, as they do in all inquiries, co-operate fully with that."

She pledged she would consider any request made, including that she refer herself to the panel of independent advisers on the Scottish ministerial code.
She stressed: "I am satisfied that I conducted myself appropriately in line with all of the rules."

Ms Sturgeon added: "The fact of the matter is complaints came forward. The Permanent Secretary was right to investigate those.

"The question of whether behaviour is criminal is a matter for the police, that's not for me to comment. It was for the Scottish Government to investigate whether the behaviour was inappropriate.

"The Scottish Government didn't get that right and that is what in all of this I deeply regret. I am also determined the Government will learn lessons from that."