NICOLA Sturgeon is facing a humiliating Holyrood vote unless her husband agrees to appear before the inquiry into the Alex Salmond affair.

The Scottish Tories said that unless SNP chief executive Peter Murrell complied with a recall request, they would table a parliamentary motion on the issue.

The motion would accuse Ms Sturgeon of misleading the parliament by previously promising full cooperation with the inquiry.

The Tories said of the ultimatum: “It’s her party. The chief executive works for her. She should demand he at least shows up."

Mr Murell, the SNP’s top official for 20 years and Ms Sturgeon's husband for ten, had been asked to return to the inquiry by today to clear up confused evidence he gave in his first appearance in December.

However after taking legal advice, he refused to do so, although there is still time for him to change his mind in the coming days.

Mr Murrell was severely criticised after his first evidence under oath was riddled contradictory statements.

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 has 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 was “tainted by apparent bias”, leaving taxpayers with a £500,000 bill for his costs.

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

After her Government’s defence of the judicial review collapsed in January 2019, Ms Sturgeon promised any inquiries would have access to whatever they wanted.

She told MSPs: “The inquiries will be able to request whatever material they want, and I undertake today that we will provide whatever material they request. 

“That is the definition of full, thorough and open inquiries. It will not be for me to decide what material the parliamentary inquiry, when it gets under way, wants to request.

“My commitment is that the Government and I will co-operate fully with it, which is, I think, appropriate.”

However her Government has repeatedly refused inquiry requests for evidence, including full legal advice, and has blocked witnesses from testifying.

In October, Ms Sturgeon also told parliament that her party would cooperate fully with the inquiry.

She said: “The SNP will also put forward answers to the questions that the committee asks of it and has already done so, as anybody can go to the committee’s website and see with their own two eyes. It will continue to co-operate fully.”

Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross said Ms Sturgeon allowing the SNP’s chief executive to duck the inquiry was wholly incompatible with that commitment.

He said: “Nicola Sturgeon promised that her party would ‘co-operate fully’ with the inquiry.

“If the SNP chief executive won’t even show up, that promise has clearly been broken and she has misled the Scottish Parliament.

“Nicola Sturgeon can change this. It’s her party. The chief executive works for her. She should demand he at least shows up.

“We know why he doesn’t want to appear. Peter Murrell is running scared of claims that he perjured himself.

“The SNP cannot dodge scrutiny forever. Either the SNP chief executive faces the inquiry or the SNP leader apologises for misleading Parliament.”

The Tories have tabled two votes demanding the Scottish Government hand over legal advice to the inquiry which passed with cross-party support.

Although not binding, they embarrassed the First Minister and led to a partial climbdown.