ALEX Salmond’s former top official has said he did not tell Nicola Sturgeon about the former First Minister’s poor behaviour in office.

Sir Peter Housden, who previously refused to say if told Ms Sturgeon, told a Holyrod inquiry that he did not discuss “bullying and intimidatory” behaviour by Mr Salmond with her.

Sir Peter, who was the Scottish Government’s Permanent Secretary from 2010 to 2015, last month told the inquiry there were “concerns” about Mr Salmond’s conduct. 

He said: “I  knew that the former First Minister could display bullying and intimidatory behaviour. I knew the situation we were dealing with.”

But he said he had never heard any suggestion of sexual misconduct involving Mr Salmond.

The inquiry is investigating how the Scottish Government botched an internal inquiry into two complaints of sexual misconduct levelled against the former FM in early 2018.

Mr Salmond had the exercise overturned in a judicial review by showing it had “tainted by apparent bias” as the lead investigating official had been in prior contact with his accusers.

The Government’s failure to ensure an unconnected person was put in charge of the case left taxpayers with a £512,000 bill for Mr Salmond’s costs.

When he gave oral evidence last month, Sir Peter was asked by Tory MSP Maragret Mitchell if he spoke to Ms Sturgeon, while she deputy FM, about any harassment complaints involving Mr Salmond.

He said he was “unable to go into the specifics in terms of individuals” because he had a duty of confidentiality to ministers under civil service codes.

The inquiry wrote to him last week challenging this as an “overly cautious” interpretation of the codes, and asked him to clarify if he discussed Mr Salmond’s conduct with Ms Sturgeon.

In reply, Sir Peter said: “You have asked me to respond to the following question: ‘[W]hether you had raised harassment concerns that you were aware of in relation to the then First Minister, Alex Salmond, with the then Deputy First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon.’ 

“I can confirm that I was not aware of any harassment concerns and so did not discuss any with Ms Sturgeon. 

“While your letter refers only to ‘harassment concerns’, for the avoidance of doubt, I did not discuss any ‘bullying and intimidatory’ behaviour by Mr Salmond with Ms Sturgeon either.” 

After Mr Salmond won his judicial review in January 2019, he was charged with sexual assault leading to a trial this year at which he was acquitted on all 13 counts.