NICOLA Sturgeon is facing an unprecedented second Holyrood defeat over her refusal to release Scottish Government legal advice to the Alex Salmond inquiry.

MSPs are due to vote on a Tory motion demanding the advice be disclosed later today, having already voted 63-54 in favour of release on November 4.

Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross has said his party may launch legal action if the Government continues to withhold the material.

Labour said the three weeks of inaction by the Government since the first vote was "appalling".

The Holyrood inquiry is looking at how the Scottish Government botched an in-house probe into allegations of sexual misconduct levelled against Mr Salmond in 2018.

The former first minister had the exercise set aside through a judicial review at the Court of Session, 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.

The Government also spent more than £118,000 for external legal advice for the case.

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

But her officials and ministers have since tried to block witnesses and withhold evidence.

In particular, the Government has refused the committee’s request for the legal advice on which it mounted its doomed defence of Mr Salmond’s 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. 

After MSPs demanded release of the advice in a non-binding vote earlier this month, Ms Sturgeon said she would consult ministerial colleagues about the issue.

However she warned it would be against the Scottish ministerial code to release any legal advice without the prior consent of the Government’s law officers.

The Government then refused to say if it would ask seek consent from the law officers.

In a fresh motion to be debated today, the Scottish Tories note the previous vote in favour of release, and the inquiry’s demand for it, and say the Government should “respect the will of the Parliament by providing the legal advice without any further delay”.

Labour MSP Jackie Baillie said: “It is appalling that three weeks after the Scottish Parliament instructed the Scottish government to hand over the legal advice, nothing has happened.

“This is treating the Scottish Parliament and the Committee with complete contempt. 

“The Scottish government has tried every trick in the book to obstruct the work of the Committee, the latest episode of which is to withhold the legal advice they received in their botched handling of the judicial review.

“This cannot continue. The Scottish government must today state its willingness to publish the legal advice. The secrecy must end.”