NICOLA Sturgeon has said she was not aware of any policy to stop female civil servants from working alone with Alex Salmond.

The First Minister spoke out after her predecessor was cleared of all 13 sexual assault charges he had faced at the High Court in Edinburgh.

Civil servants previously told the court staffing rules were changed in the months leading up to the independence referendum, to ensure female staff did not work alone with Mr Salmond in Bute House, his official residence, in the evenings.

The move was said to have come after two women raised complaints of inappropriate behaviour.

One complainer alleged: “Women were not to be alone with Mr Salmond in Bute House and he was not to receive any civil service private office support, I think it was after the hours of 7pm or 9pm, unless there was specific government business to attend to.”

Three other civil servants also made reference to the alleged rota change.

Ms Sturgeon was asked about the issue during a BBC interview.

She said: “I wasn’t aware of that. I’ve heard aspects of the evidence that was laid out at court. It wasn’t something I was aware of at the time.

“Now, these are some of the questions, no doubt, that we will all have to look at and address.

“There are going to be parliamentary inquiries in the fullness of time into all of this.

“As I said earlier on, I think that is right and proper and I certainly will welcome that opportunity to address some of the issues that have been raised.”

Elsewhere, she said: “The court has reached a verdict and that must be respected.

"I am a strong believer in a vigorous, robust, independent judicial process where complaints of this nature, if they come forward, are properly and thoroughly investigated, due process takes its course and a court reaches a decision, and that’s what has happened today.

“I have no doubt that there will be further discussion around this issue in due course, in the fullness of time – and I will welcome that. But that time is not now.

“This country faces a crisis right now bigger than anything we have faced before and as First Minister my duty to the public is to do everything I can to focus 100 per cent on steering us through that crisis, and that is what I intend to do.” 

Mr Salmond was cleared of sexually assaulting nine women following an 11-day trial.