NICOLA Sturgeon has been accused of lying on television about when she first knew about sexual misconduct allegations against Alex Salmond.

The Scottish Conservatives have claimed the First Minister’s answers on the Andrew Marr Show were “not even within the realm of the truth” after she was quizzed about when she first became aware of the complaints against her predecessor.

But Ms Sturgeon has insisted that two sepearete issues are being muddled up.

During her appearance on Sunday morning, Ms Sturgeon was played back a clip of a previous interview on the programme from October 2018, when she was asked “had you heard any stories about him (Alex Salmond) before it broke in the press”.

Ms Sturgeon responded: “Of this nature, absolutely not. I’ve said previously Alex Salmond informed me about these complaints in April, that was the first I had known.”

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The First Minister had initially told MSPs that she was first told about the complaints against Mr Salmond on 2 April 2018, in a meeting at her home in Glasgow.

But in evidence submitted to MSPs on a Holyrood committee investigating the Scottish Government’s bungled handling of the complaints, the First Minister admitted she held a meeting in March 2018 with Mr Salmond’s former chief of staff covering “allegations of a sexual nature”.

But Ms Sturgeon also knew about “allegations of sexual misconduct” as far back as November 2017, following media inquiries from Sky News.

Speaking on the show on Sunday, Ms Sturgeon said: “I stand by what I said back then. I have set out what I knew and when.”

She added that people were “conflating two issues”.

She said: “I was speaking about the issues that had been raised under the Scottish Government processes – I've set out written evidence on that and I will give oral evidence to the inquiry.

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“What I have also set out in that written evidence is that Sky News, back in November the previous year, had raised a query about allegations about Alex Salmond – they never at that time ran that story. That’s what I have set out in the written evidence that I was aware of back then.”

But the Tories have accused Ms Sturgeon of being dishonest with the public.

Scottish Conservative leader, Douglas Ross, said: “The First Minister has clearly lied about when she knew of allegations of sexual misconduct against Alex Salmond.

“Nicola Sturgeon’s weak political spin that Andrew Marr was conflating two issues doesn’t wash. He point-blank asked the First Minister if she had heard any stories about Alex Salmond and she claimed to only find out in April.

“Her answer was not even in the realms of the truth. The public deserve an explanation and an apology. By doubling down on this clear-cut lie, Nicola Sturgeon is disgracing the office of the First Minister.”

He added: “The SNP won’t release the legal advice and key documents to the inquiry because they’re covering something up. They are trying to avoid scrutiny at all costs because they clearly have something to hide. This car-crash interview makes that even more clear.

“The First Minister was taken to task over the huge gap in how her government claims to have performed and the stark reality of her gross failures on Covid, care homes, schools and the attainment gap.

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“She couldn’t defend her government with answers of any substance because there is no defence. The SNP’s record is all smoke and mirrors.”

The First Minister also refused to say if she would welcome former first minister Alex Salmond back into the SNP.

She said: “I’m not going to get into these issues today.

“There is a parliamentary inquiry under way, there is an inquiry into my conduct in terms of the ministerial code.

“I think it is important to allow these inquiries to take their course.

“There are important issues of political scrutiny and accountability, I have no issues with that, but I think it is important to allow those processes under way to take their course.”