THE Holyrood inquiry into the Alex Salmond affair has said it wants to hold a hearing with the former First Minister in December, and urged him to submit his overdue written evidence.

After he repeatedly cited legal obstacles for not making a submission so far, the inquiry said it was now making a “firm request” for Mr Salmond to get on with it and submit what he could.

“Otherwise your perspective cannot be taken into account in questioning witnesses,” it said.

Mr Salmond has already been asked to submit evidence by August 4, September 23, and October 2, and has now been asked to do so by October 27.

The inquiry also accused Mr Salmond’s former top official of being “overly cautious” when he refused to say if he told Nicola Sturgeon about concerns about Mr Salmond’s behaviour.

The cross-party group of MSPs said Sir Peter Housden, the former Permanent Secretary, should “revisit” his previous claim that he was forbidden from discussing the issue.

The developments emerged in letters released by the committee, which is looking at how the Scottish Government bungled a probe into sexual misconduct claims against Mr Salmond.

Mr Salmond had the 2018 probe set aside in court by showing it was “tainted by apparent bias”, a Government error that left taxpayers with a £512,000 bill for his legal costs.

The inquiry first wrote to Mr Salmond on July 7 for his side of the story, but he has yet to make a written submission, citing legal issues for missing several deadlines.

In a new letter to Mr Salmond, rather than his lawyers, inquiry convener Linda Fabiani said she was writing “to pursue again a response” to her original request.

“Since July your legal representatives have set out the legal restrictions that prevent you from being in a position to provide a full account as requested by the Committee,” she said. 

She said she appreciated there was material from his separate criminal trial - at which he was acquitted of sexual misconduct - that he considered “central” to giving a full account, and that he had been warned by the Crown he would be prosecuted if he released it.

She stressed there had been “numerous” written submissions from other witnesses, as well as several oral evidence hearings, and said Mr Salmond should “feel free” to give his views on the evidence so far.

Ms Fabiani wrote: “Notwithstanding these barriers to a full submission from you, and your desire to make one full submission that fully sets out your position, the Committee considers your evidence to be an important perspective in questioning Scottish Government officials and ministers in the final three phases of its inquiry. 

“For that reason, I repeat again, on behalf of the Committee the firm request to be provided with a written submission from you at your earliest opportunity, otherwise your perspective cannot be taken into account in questioning witnesses as the inquiry progresses.

“The inquiry must complete oral evidence taking in sufficient time to enable it to analyse all evidence, produce its findings in a published report and receive a response to tis recommendations from the Scottish Government. 

“To ensure this can happen before dissolution of Parliament at the end of March 2021, the Committee has provisionally scheduled oral evidence taking through the remainder of 2020 including taking evidence from you in December. 

“Again, the Committee appreciates that you may put in additional submissions to supplement an initial submission, as further information becomes available to you. The Committee next meets on 27th October and I very much hope that I will be in a position to confirm to the Committee at that stage that Parliament officials have received a submission from you.”

In a separate letter to Sir Peter, Ms Fabiani raised oral evidence he gave last month in which he refused to say if he told Ms Sturgeon of harassment concerns about Mr Salmond while he was FM and she was deputy FM.

Sir Peter said he was bound by confidentiality requirements under civil service codes.

Ms Fabiani said his interpretation was “overly cautious” and he should give MSPs an answer.

She said: “The Committee considers you should revisit your initial judgement that the general confirmation being sought to this particular question cannot be provided.”