A HOLYROOD inquiry into the Alex Salmond affair has issued letters to Nicola Sturgeon, her husband and several other key players requesting answers to a string of questions.

The First Minister has been asked to outline when she was first made aware of an internal investigation into her predecessor, what action she took and the extent of her involvement, if any, in the decision to refer complaints to the police.

Meanwhile, her husband Peter Murrell, chief executive of the SNP, has been asked to hand over all relevant party communications relating to the internal Scottish Government complaints.

He has also been asked to provide the inquiry with details of when he first became aware of the complaints against Mr Salmond and who informed him, as well as any discussions or communications he had with ministers or special advisers.

MSPs on the inquiry are looking at how the Scottish Government botched a misconduct probe into Mr Salmond and left taxpayers with a £500,000 legal bill. 

They have already decided witnesses will be required to take an oath.

Now they have published 13 letters sent to key players requesting written evidence by August 4.

This will allow the Committee on the Scottish Government Handling of Harassment Complaints to start taking oral evidence in mid-August.

The inquiry's focus is the Scottish Government’s in-house probe into complaints of sexual misconduct made against Mr Salmond in 2018 by two female civil servants.

After this became public in August that year, Mr Salmond resigned from the SNP, before launching a crowdfunded judicial review at the Court of Session to have the probe’s findings struck down.

In January 2019, the Government admitted in court its probe had been unfair, unlawful and “tainted by apparent bias” because the investigating officer was in prior contact with the complainants, leaving taxpayers with a £500,000 bill for Mr Salmond’s legal costs.

It emerged Ms Sturgeon maintained contact with Mr Salmond while he was being investigated by her officials, leading to accusations she broke the Scottish ministerial code.

Now a Holyrood committee will examine how the Government probe was bungled, the judicial review, and whether Ms Sturgeon’s behaviour broke the code.

The letter to Ms Sturgeon, published on the Scottish Parliament's website, requests copies of all communications relevant to its remit between the First Minister, Mr Salmond and other relevant individuals.

It also seeks details of all "relevant communications with the SNP given your dual roles as First Minister and as the leader of the SNP". 

It adds: "This includes all communication, relevant to its remit, relating to the complaints made against Alex Salmond under the Procedure on handling of harassment complaints involving current or former ministers."

It says the committee is focusing partly on the culture within the Scottish Government between 2008 and 2014, when Mr Salmond was first minister, and on to the present. 

The letter adds: "The committee requests details and any relevant correspondence from this period on the culture within the Scottish Government."

Meanwhile, a letter to Mr Salmond seeks a "full chronological account of the complaints handling process" from his perspective. 

MSPs want to establish who first informed the former first minister of the existence of complaints, when he was informed and the level of detail shared. 

The committee said it is also interested in "all contact since then between yourself and Scottish Government officials" as well as all contact with ministers.

The letter adds: "The committee also requests a list of all those you discussed the details of the complaints with during this period including details of any requests you made for people to support you, including to act as intermediaries."

The inquiry wants Mr Salmond's full account of the judicial review and copies of all relevant documents he holds.

It also asked him for all communications with the SNP relating to the internal Scottish Government complaints made against him.

Referring again to the culture of the Government, the letter asks for Mr Salmond's perspective on the safeguards in place for staff, how supported he considers staff would have felt, and what could have been done differently. 

Elsewhere, Mr Murrell has been asked for "details of your first awareness of, presence at, or contributions to, any meetings between two or more of the following: the First Minister; the First Minister’s chief of staff [Liz Lloyd]; the former First Minister, Alex Salmond; and the former First Minister’s former chief of staff, Geoff Aberdein". 

Further letters from committee convener Linda Fabiani have been sent to Ms Lloyd, Mr Aberdein, deputy first minister John Swinney, Lord Advocate James Wolffe, union leaders and former permanent secretaries Sir Peter Housden and Sir John Elvidge.

The latter two have been asked about the outcome of any staff surveys on incidences of bullying and harassment, as well as the level of complaints made under previous policies, among other things.

Mr Salmond was cleared of multiple charges of sexual assault earlier this year after a trial at the High Court in Edinburgh. 

The former First Minister's allies have suggested he was the victim of a politically motivated plot to destroy him.

Ms Sturgeon has dismissed this as a “heap of nonsense”.