ALEX Salmond has threatened a fresh legal action against the Scottish Government to stop it releasing evidence about him to Holyrood’s harassment inquiry

The former First Minister’s lawyer has warned his client is ready “to return to court” to stop the Government releasing information about its in-house sexual misconduct probe into Mr Salmond, as it would be “a clear contempt of court”.  

Mr Salmond’s lawyer has also accused the Scottish Government of a “data breach” to the media, and demanded an investigation into the alleged leak.

It is claimed the leak was “selective and deliberately misleading” and designed to damage Mr Salmond.

The threat of legal action to stop evidence going to the Inquiry comes just a week after it emerged Mr Salmond had offered to go to court to get other evidence made public. 

The cross-party inquiry is examining the Scottish Government’s botched sexual misconduct probe into Mr Salmond in 2018.

Mr Salmond had the exercise set aside, or reduced, in a judicial review at the Court of Session, forcing ministers to admit the exercise was “tainted by apparent bias” because the Investigating Officer had been in prior contact with his two accusers.

The collapse of the Government’s case in January 2019 left taxpayers with a £500,000 bill for Mr Salmond’s costs. 

The Government gave an undertaking to the Court that it would “not cause or permit the publication or dissemination to any other person of the… Investigating Officer’s report or any statements or other material taken or prepared by her in the course of preparing the same”.

The latest behind-the-scenes row concerns evidence about ths investigation.

On 31 August, deputy First Minister John Swinney told the inquiry the Government was working on the release of a tranche of evidence about its probe into the complaints.

He said this involved notifying “any named individual whose personal data” was included in the files, “notifying them of their legal right to object”, and one person had objected.

He said: “A formal objection has been received by the Scottish Government on behalf of an individual in response to our notification.” 

The Daily Record subsequently reported Mr Salmond was behind the objection.

The inquiry has now released an email dated September 12 it received from Mr Salmond’s lawyer, David McKie of Glasgow firm Levy & McRae.

In it, Mr McKie does not dispute that his client objected, but says the Daily Record article was “a misrepresentation of information contained in a letter marked ‘private and confidential’ and sent only to the Scottish Government”.

He said: “The information in the article can only have come from the Scottish Government. 

“We have written to the government, seeking an investigation into the data breach, given its serious implications for the proper functioning of your Committee. 

“Some material which the government had indicated to us it intended to produce, as part of its submissions, in our view represented a clear breach of court orders and undertakings. It would consequently have constituted a clear contempt of court. 

“We informed the Scottish Government last month that we would return to court on behalf of our client if they attempted to breach court rulings or undertakings. 

“The Committee has made it clear repeatedly that court rulings must be adhered to and that it was not seeking either material naming complainants in breach of a High Court order nor documents previously reduced by the Court of Session, since they were part of an unlawful process and subject to court undertakings. 

“However the Daily Record article suggests that our client was objecting to papers the Committee had asked for. He was not. 

“Our client’s position is clear: he seeks to facilitate the maximum lawful disclosure of documents whilst respecting and, if necessary, enforcing the orders of the court. 

“In contrast the government appears prepared to risk contempt of court by offering documents the committee has not asked for while simultaneously refusing to provide the Committee with material it has asked for, and can lawfully provide, such as the external legal advice on the Judicial Review. 

“Hopefully on both aspects common sense will prevail without the need for a return to the court.” 

In a separate letter to the Scottish Government about the “data breach”, Mr McKie said: “The information in the article can only have come from the Scottish Government. 

“It was information sent only to the Scottish Government in a letter marked ‘private and confidential. The data breach is a clear contravention of the law

“We are appalled that correspondence with the Scottish Government on matters as sensitive as those involved in this case cannot be sent with any confidence that they will be treated appropriately and in good faith. 

“Furthermore, the breach appears to have been selective and deliberately misleading. 

“It has resulted in a highly defamatory and misleading article being published about our client. That, doubtless, was the intention. 

“We therefore ask you undertake an immediate investigation and to identify all parties who received a copy of our letter. 

“That will assist in identifying the source of the data breach. Please confirm that you will report this clear data breach to the [Information Commissioner's Office] immediately. 

“If not, please set out the basis for your refusal to do so.”

After the Scottish Government lost the judicial review, Nicola Sturgeon promised Holyrod the inquiry could have whatever documents it wanted.

However her ministers and officials have since refused to hand over evidence on legal grounds and tried to block witnesses.

Last week it emerged Mr Salmond, through his lawyers, had offered the committee a list of documents about the judicial review so that MSPs could ask the Government for them.

However as a "second option", he was willing to "return to court to seek the express consent of the court to have those documents passed to the committee", provided the parliament met his costs.