ANGRY MSPs have complained to the convener heading up an investigation into the handling of sexual harassment allegations over the refusal by Scotland’s most senior civil servant to answer “pertinent” questions. 

Permanent Secretary Leslie Evans was the first witness to appear at an evidence session on Tuesday into the Scottish Government’s botched handling of complaints against former First Minister Alex Salmond. 

But MSPs have written to the committee's convener, Linda Fabiani, after she blocked questioning over claims that female civil servants could not work alone with Mr Salmond. 

The Scottish Conservatives have also written to Sir Mark Sedwill, the head of the UK civil services, questioning whether Ms Evans broke the civil service code. 

The row has emerged as the Met Police confirmed Mr Salmond will face no further criminal investigation dating back to his time as an MP. 

Mr Salmond was acquitted of 13 counts of sexual assault in March at the High Court in Edinburgh. 

The Times reported that the investigation has been halted following conversations between police and the woman involved. 

She told the newspaper that she "did not feel safe to proceed" after "the scale of the backlash, intimidation, misinformation and threats that followed the trial in Scotland". 

READ MORE: Salmond Inquiry: Tory MSP calls for details over Nicola Sturgeon's early knowledge of 'incident'

A Met Police spokesperson said: “In January 2019 the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) was passed information linked to an ongoing investigation in Scotland

“Specialist officers launched a review of the information to ascertain if any criminal offences had been committed within the Metropolitan Police District. In consultation with the Crown Prosecution Service no further action was taken in relation to the information provided. 

“In March 2020, MPS carried out a further review of the information and one allegation of crime was recorded. The complainant was contacted by officers. Following this contact, the investigation was not proceeded with and no further action was taken.” 

At the evidence session on Tuesday, Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser had one of his questions to Ms Evan blocked by Ms Fabiani. 

Mr Fraser asked whether female civil servants had ever been advised not to be alone with Mr Salmond. 

This was a disputed claim made during Mr Salmond’s separate criminal trial this year. 

Ms Evans replied to the question by saying “I can't comment on that”. 

Ms Fabiani then intervened, saying that she was “not sure that that is entirely appropriate to what we are doing at this committee under its remit”. 

Lib Dem MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton argued that the “question is pertinent”. 

He added: “This committee is charged with looking at the government’s handling of harassment complaints – that does not just mean the application of hard and fast procedures, it also concerns the application of informal steps that were taken to protect complainers. 

“If what Mr Fraser is asking about happened, that is something that this committee absolutely needs to know about.” 

READ MORE: Salmond inquiry: Sturgeon told of concerns about Salmond's behaviour almost three years ago

But Ms Fabiani stressed that she had decided not to allow the line of questioning to continue. 

Mr Cole-Hamilton, Mr Fraser and Labour MSP Jackie Baillie, have penned a joint letter to Ms Fabiani, stressing that they were “taken aback that you were so vociferous in your opposition to this line of questioning”. 

They said: "Several members have stated on repeated occasions, in preparatory meetings of the committee, that an understanding of the culture that existed in the organisation and how concerns were dealt with informally before they became subject to formal procedure was essential to our committee’s work. At no point did you or any other committee member dissent from that view. 

“It seems that ‘concerns’ as the Permanent Secretary described them were commonly dealt with in an informal matter.  

"We believe that an understanding of that reality is essential to our committee’s work going forward.” 

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross has written to the head of the UK civil service, Mark Sedwill, over the issue. 

Mr Ross said: “Any reasonable person would accept there are valid questions to be asked about the claims that female civil servants couldn’t work alone with Alex Salmond. 

“A number of women were let down by unforgivable process failures by the government, and Scottish taxpayers lost more than £500,000 that could have been spent on improving schools and hospitals. 

“The Scottish public deserve answers. They won’t get the full truth if civil servants are allowed to evade scrutiny and the government refuses to release documents.”