KENNY MacAskill has suggested Nicola Sturgeon’s husband should be suspended from his job as chief executive of the SNP for “conduct unbecoming”.

He said Peter Murrell should be investigated after the leak of WhatsApp messages which appear to show him urging police and prosecution action against Alex Salmond.

The messages date from January 2019, when Mr Salmond won a civil legal action against Ms Sturgeon’s government and was shortly afterwards charged with sexual assault.

The Crown Office last week instructed Police Scotland to investigate the leaked messages, which may have come from material disclosed to Mr Salmond’s trial defence team.

The former first minister was acquitted on all 13 counts of sexual assault in March.

His supporters claim he was the victim of a plot by figures in the SNP and Government who wanted to stop him making a comeback and rivalling Ms Sturgeon.

Mr MacAskill, who was elected the MP for East Lothian in December, made his comments in an article for the pro-independence Wings Over Scotland website tonight

He also took a series of swipes at the SNP’s business convener, effectively the party chair.

He called Kirsten Oswald, who is also the MP for East Renfrewshire, the “None of Your Business Convener” for shielding Mr Murrell from scrutiny.

In 2016, Ms Sturgeon, who married Mr Murrell in 2010, said she would be willing to sack him as SNP chief executive “if I thought it was merited”.

She said: “We’ve got internal systems in the SNP. It would be the National Executive Committee that took that decision.”

In his article, Mr MacAskill said several SNP politicians had been suspended with immediate effect when they came under a cloud without a “by-your-leave, let alone an explanation”.

He said: “And that’s all well and good, some might say. No hint of impropriety should attach to the party and making a virtue of acting swiftly can be both necessary and appropriate.

“So why then no action against the Chief Executive?

“It’s over a week since revelations broke of WhatsApp messages sent by Peter Murrell to his Chief Operating Officer purporting to encourage pressure be brought to bear on police in the Alex Salmond case. 

“Indeed, they appeared even to go beyond that, with the suggestion of the instigation of another enquiry by the Metropolitan Police.

“(Any doubt there might have been over the document’s authenticity now resolved by the Crown instigating a police investigation into a leak.)

“Now those things may or may not be criminal but it’s certainly conduct unbecoming of a party Chief Executive, raising questions about both him and his actions. 

“After all, the SNP is the governing party and seeking to influence criminal investigations is simply unacceptable. 

“Supporting an investigation can be laudable, pressurizing those doing the investigating most certainly can’t, and the terms of reference seem clear. 

“You’d have therefore thought action would have been swift and speedy. But no!”

Mr MacAskill then cited last Sunday’s meeting of the National Executive Committee - the ruling body Ms Sturgeon referred to in 2016 - which tried in vain to consider Mr Murrell.

He said that “despite the pleas and demands of several members”, Ms Oswald halted the meeting after two hours, before Mr Murrell could be discussed.

“Neither the Chief Executive’s actions nor his report were discussed. Instead the meeting was summarily concluded,” Mr MacAskill said.

He said this “seems to be the way for the None Of Your Business Convener”, complaining Ms Oswald had failed to reply to his previous queries about Mr Murrell and party matters.

“With a ‘None Of Your Business’ Convener in charge, not even the NEC seems to get know or do anything about it.”

Former SNP deputy leader Jim Sillars also suggested today that Mr Murrell’s position was becoming “more untenable” each day.

He said the SNP chief was in “dangerous territory” with the WhatsApp messages.

The SNP has been asked for comment.