MSPs are being urged to back Alex Salmond’s demand for the Scottish Government to publish the legal advice behind its doomed legal battle with him.

The Scottish Tories have tabled a parliamentary motion on the issue, which they say will lead to a full Holyrood debate and vote if it appears to have majority support. 

Although not binding, a vote backing disclosure of the legal advice would be acutely embarrassing for Nicola Sturgeon, as her government is refusing to release it.

The Tory move is also designed to smoke out and aggravate division on the SNP benches, by seeing which MSPs back the former First Minister in his fight with his estranged successor.

Mr Salmond demanded on Friday that SNP ministers release their legal advice on the judicial review he won against the Government in January 2019.

It followed the Holyrood inquiry into the Salmond affair publishing the pivotal court document in the case, the open record showing both sides’ pleadings.

It showed the Government admitted the ‘bias’ issue which doomed its defence in November 2018, yet did not concede defeat for another two months, increasing the cost to taxpayers.

The Government’s failure to appoint an investigating officer with no connection to Mr Salmond’s case meant the whole procedure was “tainted by apparent bias”.

That error and the Government’s slow approach, with critical evidence released “very late in the day” to Mr Salmond, contributed to a higher than usual bill for taxpayers, with the public purse left footing a £512,000 bill for the former First Minister’s legal costs.

The investigating officer involved, Judith McKinnon, is due to give evidence to the Holyrood inquiry into the affair tomorrow.

MSPs are looking at exactly how the Scottish Government botched a probe into sexual misconduct claims made against Mr Salmond in 2018.

He launched a crowd-funded judicial review at the Court of Session contesting its findings, succeeding in having the whole exercise set aside, or ‘reduced’, after showing it was unfair, unlawful and “tainted by apparent bias”.

When the Government’s case collapsed in January 2019, Ms Sturgeon gave an undertaking to parliament to “provide whatever material” the inquiry requested.

However her officials and ministers have since tried to block witnesses and withheld swathes of evidence, citing “legal privilege” despite waiving it for three judge-led inquiries.

Following Mr Salmond’s call on Friday, Tory MSP Oliver Mundell has urged all MSPs to back a parliamentary motion demanding the Government “publish the legal advice it received regarding the judicial review on the investigation of Alex Salmond’s alleged behaviour.”

He said: “When he called for a judge-led inquiry on this matter, which the Scottish Conservatives support, the SNP MSP Alex Neil said “this is a matter that rises above party politics.”

“We agree, so we are calling for cross-party support from MSPs across the chamber to back our motion and ask the Scottish Government to publish the legal advice they received for the Alex Salmond judicial review.

“The Scottish Government has treated this inquiry as a joke and kept key documents hidden, and the Scottish Parliament has been misled repeatedly and blatantly.

“We are calling on MSPs to stand up for the reputation of the parliament. The legal advice must be published, so we can find out exactly how £500,000 of public money was wasted.”

Ms Sturgeon received more welcome news in new correspondence released by the inquiry.

Sir Peter Housden, the former Scottish Government Permanent Secretary who was Mr Salmond’s top aide for more than four years, said he had not discussed any harassment concerns or bullying and intimidatory behaviour by Mr Salmond with Ms Sturgeon.

It followed the inquiry asking him to clarify whether he had ever discussed such concerns with the then deputy First Minister.

Sir Peter refused to answer questions on the point in oral evidence, saying he was bound by civil service confidentiality codes, am interpretation MSPs considered “overly cautious”.