THE Scottish Government has denied it wants to break a court undertaking it gave after it lost its doomed legal battle with Alex Salmond.

It follows Mr Salmond claiming SNP ministers want to “malign his reputation” by releasing unreliable documents about him and alleged sexual misconduct.

In a letter to the Holyrood inquiry into the Salmond affair, deputy First Minister John Swinney said there had been a “misrepresentation” of the Government’s action.

The inquiry is investigation how the Government bungled a sexual misconduct probe into Mr Salmond in 2018, leaving taxpayers with a £512,000 bill for his costs.

Mr Salmond had the exercise set aside, or ‘reduced’, though a judicial review at the Court of Session by showing it had been unfair, unlawful and “tainted by apparent bias”.

Ministers promised last year that they would not share the findings of a flawed sexual misconduct probe into the former First Minister, or the material that went into it.

However the Government recently announced it planned to ask the courts to clarify the exact extent of the undertaking, prompting a furious reaction from Mr Salmond and his lawyer.

David McKie, or Levy & McRae, accused the Government of trying to undo Mr Salmond’s court win by bringing the defective documents relate dot the probe into the public domain.

In his letter, Mr Swinney insisted the Government was not trying to release any material about the substance of the complaints against Mr Salmond.

He also said the Government accepted ti could not share or disseminate the documents covered by the undertaking, “particularly the Investigating Officer’s report”.

Rather, the Government was seeking a court ruling because someone - understood to be Mr Salmond himself - had objected to the release of documents “other than those specifically mentioned in the undertaking”, arguing they were also covered by its terms.

Mr Swinney said: “Given the substance of the objection received the Government has no choice but to seek confirmation from the court that it may provide the Committee with documents which are not mentioned in the undertaking. 

“The Scottish Government also wishes to seek confirmation from the court that documents reduced by the Court of Session which are not covered by the undertaking can be provided to the Committee. 

“This too has been disputed in the objection received by the Scottish Government. 

“These documents are directly relevant to the questions asked by the Committee, they remain in existence and in the possession of the Scottish Government, and we wish the all the relevant information to be provided to the Committee – clearly noting of course those which have been reduced by the court.”

During the course of the judicial review, several civil servants appeared at court as part of a recovery of document process which ultimately yielded Mr Salmond’s winning evidence.

The process revealed the lead investigating officer on his probe had been in prior contact with his accusers, contaminating the whole exercise, collapsing the Government’s case.

In his letter, Mr Swinney revealed that Ms Sturgeon’s top civil servant, the Permanent Secretary Leslie Evans, Government HR director Barbara Allison, Investigating Officer Judith Mackinnon, and James Hynd, the Government’s head of governance had attended.

He also said the First Minister’s principal private secretary John Somers and another official had been due to appear at court but did not go as the Government threw in the towel.

Mr Swinney also said he wanted reassurances about how civil servants would be questioned by the inquiry when it resumed oral evidence hearings on October 27.

In a separate development, former justice secretary Kenny MacAskill criticised prosecutors over messages written by Ms Sturgeon’s husband, SNP chief executive Peter Murrell.

Mr MackAskill, the MP for East Lothian, was last month leaked messages in which Mr Murrell backed police and prosecution against Mr Salmond in January 2019.

After Mr MacAskill forwarded the messages to the Crown Office, it ordered the police to investigate the leak of the messages, rather than their content.

One line of inquiry was that the material was part of a cache of files released to Mr Salmond’s defence team for his criminal trial, and which should have stayed private.

Writing in the Scotsman, Mr MacAskill revealed he met police officers last week about the matter but was astonished to learn the Crown hadn’t given them the messages.

“I was happy to oblige,” he said, adding the Crown Office later wrote to him saying it “couldn't confirm the accuracy” of the messages he had been sent.

Mr MacAskill said the Crown’s response arrived on the same day Mr Murrell admitted the messages were genuine while claiming they had been taken out of context.

Mr MacAskill said he wondered why the Crown would order the police to investigate a leak of material if it didn’t know if it was authentic or not.

He said: “More worryingly than that lack of candour with an elected representative were the Crown’s actions in objecting to similar messages being produced in the criminal trial.

“Whilst not exculpatory, they were certainly relevant to a defence alleging a conspiracy. “There are questions for the Crown besides others in all this.”