NICOLA Sturgeon’s husband has refused to clear up his controversial evidence to the Holyrood inquiry into the Alex Salmond affair by appearing before it tomorrow.

SNP chief executive Peter Murrell was recalled last month, and asked to appear on January 26 or February 2, but has snubbed both dates after taking legal advice.

The Scottish Tories accused him of treating the inquiry with "complete contempt".

The latest refusal has raised doubts about whether he will ever comply with the inquiry’s request to give further testimony, given it is fast running out of time.

Mr Salmond is due to give oral evidence in person on February 9 and Ms Sturgeon is scheduled to be the final witness on February 16.

It is possible Mr Murrell could yet be squeezed in to give evidence on the morning of February 9, ahead of Mr Salmond’s afternoon appearance.

However his resistance to date, and the involvement of lawyers, suggests that is increasingly unlikely.

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Mr Murrell was severely criticised after his first evidence to the inquiry in December, in which he made a series of contradictory statements under oath.

It prompted Labour to ask the Crown Office to investigate whether he had “perjured himself”.

In particular, the Crown was asked to probe whether Mr Murrell 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.

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

Last week the Crown Office handed over “material” from Mr Salmond’s criminal trial to the inquiry after MSPs asked to see WhatsApp and text messages involving Mr Murrell’s deputy, SNP chief operating officer Sue Ruddick.

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Mr Murrell sent Ms Ruddick texts urging police and prosecution action against Mr Salmond on the day he was charged with assault in January 2019.

Mr Murrell has insisted under oath no more such messages exist.

However the previous contradictions in his evidence have not inspired confidence on the inquiry.

Tory MSP Murdo Fraser said: “Peter Murrell’s refusal to reappear before the committee will only raise more suspicions about what he doesn’t want to answer about this case.

“The First Minister promised that the SNP Government would be open and transparent with this inquiry but now the Chief Executive of the SNP can’t even bring himself to be questioned again.

“His previous appearance was littered with contradictory statements which is why he should have been willing to clarify his evidence.

“Mr Murrell is showing complete contempt towards the Committee and must make himself available for questioning as a matter of urgency.”

The SNP has been asked for comment.