FIGURES in the SNP have acted "despicably" and need to resign in the wake of Alex Salmond being cleared of sexual assault charges, an MP has said.

Kenny MacAskill insisted there needs to be a "reckoning" in the aftermath of the verdict.

Mr Salmond was cleared of 13 charges, including attempted rape and sexual assault, at the High Court in Edinburgh on Monday.

Mr MacAskill, who served as justice secretary under Mr Salmond when he was first minister, said: "There do need to be resignations within the SNP."

Writing in The Scotsman, he added: "A few have acted despicably and many of us feel a breach of trust. 

"To whom do these individuals work and for what purpose are they acting? 

"They cannot remain and a few others now face question marks over why they are in the positions they hold, as it certainly hasn’t been on ability. 

"They should go quietly under the cover of coronavirus."

Mr MacAskill said "only the tip of the iceberg came out during the trial" and it was clear a "coterie of leading party individuals were seeking to do much more than simply a citizen’s duty of cooperating with the police". 

The East Lothian MP said others must also face a reckoning after the coronavirus crisis has passed. 

He said the taxpayer "picked up a tab amounting to more than £500,000" for an earlier civil case, and argued this would be a small fraction of the costs of a "criminal investigation, the likes of which is normally reserved for the most heinous of crimes".

However, he insisted those who predict the demise of the independence cause can "dream on". 

He added: "It’s bigger than any individual and can survive another bump in the road."