Holyrood is being held "in contempt" and "stonewalled" after demanding the Scottish Government disclose the legal advice behind its doomed Court of Session battle with Alex Salmond, it has been claimed.

MSPs voted to instruct ministers to hand over the information two weeks ago, but the committee investigating the debacle has yet to receive it. 

It came as Scotland's top law officer refused to say whether he has been contacted by ministers in relation to releasing the advice. 

Lord Advocate James Wolffe QC told the Holyrood inquiry the Government is considering the Scottish Parliament vote and he did not want to preempt this. 

He said: "I don't think it would be right for me to discuss what is an ongoing process that the Government is engaged in, and which ultimately will result in a collective decision by ministers."

Meanwhile, Permanent Secretary Leslie Evans said she could not recall the issue coming up during Cabinet discussions, and it was not on the agenda for ministers today. 

Asked if the Lord Advocate has been consulted, she said: "I can't tell you and I don't know". 

A cross-party group of MSPs is looking into how the Scottish Government botched a sexual misconduct probe into claims made against Mr Salmond in 2018.

The former first minister had the exercise set aside through a judicial review, showing it had been unlawful, unfair and “tainted by apparent bias”.

The Government’s mistake - to appoint an investigating officer who was in prior contact with his accusers - left taxpayers with a £512,000 bill for his costs.

Mr Salmond was cleared of multiple sexual assault charges at the High Court in Edinburgh earlier this year. 

The Scottish Government previously refused the Holyrood committee’s request for the legal advice on which it decided to defend the civil action.

Ministers have cited “legal privilege” for doing so, despite waiving it for three judge-led inquiries on contaminated blood, historical abuse and Edinburgh’s trams. 

Scottish Labour MSP Jackie Baillie, who sits on the committee, said: “Two weeks on from the Scottish Parliament voting to instruct the Scottish Government to hand over the legal advice and the Committee is none the wiser.

“We still do not know if ministers have bothered to ask the Lord Advocate whether they can release the legal advice for the judicial review. 

"The Ministerial Code states plainly that ministers may publicly acknowledge if they have received legal advice. 

"Why, then, do we still not know if the Lord Advocate has been engaged to do so?

“This is nothing less than holding parliament in contempt. The advice must be released without further delay or it will increasingly look like they really do have something to hide.”

Fellow committee member Murdo Fraser, a Scottish Conservative MSP, said: “Any lingering hope of this SNP government doing the right thing was dashed today. 

"The Lord Advocate should have come to Parliament and given clear answers to straight questions. Instead, he decided to stonewall. 

"In police interviews, suspects frequently say 'no comment'. The Lord Advocate had his own version which was to cite law officer convention. 

"Following the SNP's refusal to respect the will of Parliament, today's lack of good faith reconfirms the contempt they have for this committee and by extension the public. 

"We still do not know whether the SNP government has asked the Lord Advocate for this information to be released. 

"The permanent secretary was not much better and frequently sought to find ways to avoid giving straight answers." 

Giving evidence to the committee, Mr Wolffe said the late discovery of documents that led to the Scottish Government conceding defeat in January 2019 had been "embarrassing".

He said Mr Salmond's initial grounds for complaint made no mention of the role of the investigating officer and her contact with the complainers. 

However at the end of October 2018, the Scottish Government identified this as an issue.

In mid November, Mr Salmond then added this to his judicial review challenge. 

The Scottish Government reviewed its legal position in early December, but was satisfied it could defend itself. 

This changed just weeks later as a result of documents that were only disclosed on December 19 following the establishment of a Documents Commission by Lord Pentland.

These showed additional contact between the investigating officer and the complainers which "had not previously been appreciated", Mr Wolffe said. 

This included a meeting the day before a formal complaint was made and an email chain indicating arrangements to meet with the other complainer.

Mr Wolffe said the disclosure of the material was "damaging in a number of respects".

He told MSPs: "The point is, the Government should not be in a position of having given assurances about full disclosure, and then for those to turn out to be inaccurate.

"That is not an appropriate outcome from a Government point of view. It's certainly not from my point of view as the Government's senior law officer." 

He said:  "Against the background where a government had determined to be, and was determined - as it ought to be in litigation - to be candid and transparent, to find itself in the position that it found itself in the course of the commission and subsequently in terms of the additional documents coming to light was embarrassing. That should not happen."

However Mr Wolffe said: "There was never any intention to, or desire to conceal anything."

He said the Government's approach had "reflected a desire to be candid and transparent". 

Ms Evans, who later gave evidence to the committee, said the new documents "cast doubt on the capacity of the Scottish Government to clearly evidence and explain the nature of every contact, and contradicted earlier assurances".

She said she took the decision to concede the judicial review "within a matter of a few days" after the documents emerged.