NICOLA Sturgeon’s husband is understood to be taking legal advice after being accused of potentially committing a crime at the Holyrood inquiry into the Alex Salmond affair.

SNP chief executive Peter Murrell was recently recalled by the inquiry after his testimony under oath last month was criticised for multiple contradictions. 

He was offered a choice of dates, and initially indicated he would attend on February 2. 

However, he is now understood to be reluctant to return after Labour asked the Crown Office to investigate whether he had “perjured himself” in his first appearance.

In particular, the Crown was asked yesterday to probe whether Mr Murrell had falsely denied the existence of potentially embarrassing text and WhatsApp messages relating to Mr Salmond.

Wilfully making a false statement under oath is punishable by up to five years in jail.

Mr Murrell’s lawyers are now in talks with inquiry clerks about whether he will appear. 

READ MORE: Alex Salmond inquiry - Nicola Sturgeon's husband Peter Murrell in 'perjury' row

The development coincided with Mr Salmond offering to appear before the inquiry in person on February 8, four days after the deadline set for him last week.

MSPs on the inquiry will meet tomorrow to decide whether to take him up on the offer.

The inquiry is looking at the Scottish Government’s mishandling of into complaints of sexual misconduct made against Mr Salmond in 2018 by two civil servants.

The former First Minister had the exercise set aside in a judicial review, showing it was “tainted by apparent bias”, leaving taxpayers with a £500,000 bill for his legal costs.

He was later charged with sexual assault but cleared on all counts at a trial last March.

The Inquiry last week asked the Crown Office to release text and WhatsApp messages involving Mr Murrell’s de facto deputy at the SNP, chief operating officer Sue Ruddick, which had been supplied to Mr Salmond’s defence team for the trial.

Mr Salmond has been warned that if he shares the material he could be prosecuted, a threat he says undermines his ability to tell MSPs the "whole truth".

READ MORE: Poll - Two-thirds say Nicola Sturgeon should quit if she misled Holyrood over Salmond affair

After weeks of trying to nail down a date for Mr Salmond to appear, inquiry convener Linda Fabiani told him February 3 was his last chance to give evidence in person and February 4 his last chance to do so in a virtual hearing.

She said that, with the Inquiry due to end before the Holyrood election campaign, if he could not make those dates, it “regrets that it will not be able to take oral evidence from you”.

In reply, Mr Salmond’s lawyer, David McKie of Levy & McRae, said his client was available to give evidence “on any day, at any time in the week beginning 8th February, including on the 8th itself if you wish to hear his evidence before that of the First Minister”.

He added: “If necessary he is prepared to consider giving evidence in an alternative format although he (and the committee) would prefer an in-person session.

“The dates offered by him will also, he hopes, allow the time required to publish his evidence, to secure the information currently withheld and therefore enable him to discharge his oath in full.”

Mr Salmond has accused Ms Sturgeon of repeatedly misleading parliament about her role in the saga, a breach of the ministerial code and resignation offence at Holyrood.

Ms Sturgeon has vehemently denied misleading parliament and has accused her former mentor of spreading conspiracy theories to distract from his own shortcomings.

The SNP has been asked for comment.