A SCOTTISH Government civil servant who denied receiving a notorious text about the Alex Salmond affair has admitted she may have been sent it after all.

Former HR director Barbara Allison last week told MSPs she did not get a message from the top official in the Government after the former First Minister won a legal battle against it.

Referring to Mr Salmond’s victory in a judicial review in January 2019, Permanent Secretary Leslie Evans texted: “We may have lost the battle, but we will win the war.”

The text has been cited of evidence of a conspiracy against Mr Salmond.

At the Holyrood inquiry into the botched sexual misconduct that gave rise to Mr Salmond’s legal action, Ms Allison was asked by Labour MSP Jackie Baillie if the message was to her.

When Ms Allison simply replied “No”, Ms Baillie noted ominously: “That is interesting.”

Ms Allison, who is now the Government’s director of communications, ministerial support & facilities, has now written to the Inquiry saying she may have been mistaken. 

Saying she was on holiday abroad at the time of the text, she said she had “no recollection” of seeing the message and “to the best of my knowledge” had answered accurately. 

However Ms Baillie’s reaction suggested the inquiry had “reason to believe otherwise”.

Ms Allison said: “I have therefore asked whether a search can be made to determine whether I was sent the text and I will update the Committee on the results of that.” 

The cross-party committee is currently investigating how the Scottish Government botched an in-house probe into sexual misconduct claims against Mr Salmond in 2018.

The former First Minister overturned it in a judicial review by showing it had been unfair, unlawful and “tainted by apparent bias”, because the investigating official had been in prior contact with his two accusers, contaminating the whole exercise. 

The blunder left taxpayers with a £500,000 bill for Mr Salmond’s legal costs.

Separately, Mr Salmond was charged soon after his civil action with sexual assault, leading to a trial earlier this year at which he was acquitted on all 13 counts.

Ms Evans’s text came to light during a preliminary hearing for that trial, fuelling claims by Mr Salmond’s supporters that he was the victim of a politically motivated conspiracy.

According to the theory, people in government and the SNP around Nicola Sturgeon tried to smear Mr Salmond to stop him making a political comeback and rivalling his successor. 

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

Earlier this month, Ms Evans told the Inquiry her text had been misinterpreted and was not about Mr Salmond.

She said: "That has been misinterpreted as having some kind of conspiratorial element to it.

"I clearly say that that is not the case.

"I was not referring to any individual when I sent that text.

"I was talking about a long-term commitment of mine, and indeed of the Scottish Government... to ensure that equality lies at the heart of what it does and of how it operates as an organisation."

Asked if she was "at war" with Mr Salmond, she said: "No."

During her evidence last week, Ms Allison described Mr Salmond as demanding and difficult to work for, but also “visionary and dynamic” as First Minister.

He would “express his displeasure” if people failed to meet the high standards he expected, she told MSPs.