THE Holyrood inquiry into the Alex Salmond affair is “in crisis” after it was prevented from publishing evidence from the former First Minister, one of its members has warned.

Liberal Democrat MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton tried to call an emergency meeting of the group today, saying the credibility of the cross-party committee was “on the line”.

However, despite all the opposition majority on the inquiry agreeing to convene in a virtual session, SNP convener Linda Fabiani deemed it “impractical”.

It is understood SNP members on the inquiry have also ignored messages from opposition colleagues in what is being seen as an attempt to run down the clock.

"The SNP are in full slow walking mode," said a source.

The inquiry must finish its work within weeks to give the Scottish Government time to respond before the election campaign begins at the end of March.

Mr Cole-Hamilton’s push followed Holyrood officials refusing to let the committee publish a submission from Mr Salmond in which he accused Nicola Sturgeon of misleading parliament.

The material, which has also been submitted to the adviser on the Scottish Ministerial Code,  is already in the public domain, having been published verbatim online.

However the parliament refused to let the committee publish it under its own authority for legal reasons in case it breached court orders, data or privacy rules.

It left some sources around the cross-party committee, which has already struggled to get evidence from the Scottish Government, feeling timid parliament lawyers are now part of the problem too.

Mr Salmond called the move “extraordinary” and “farcical”, and said it went against the parliament’s founding principles of openness and transparency.

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He is now consulting his advisers ahead of a scheduled appearance at the inquiry on Tuesday.

In a tweet this morning, Mr Cole-Hamilton said: “Salmond Inquiry is in crisis and I have just called for an urgent meeting of the ctte to be held at 1pm. 

“We’re unable to publish a key submission of evidence from Mr Salmond, but that does not mean he is prohibited from referring to its contents on Tuesday.”

He added: “The credibility of our committee is on the line. 

If we are to get to the bottom of why the government failed the women at the heart of this, then we must hear from the subject of its investigation.”

However no meeting took place, despite the opposition majority supporting it.

Mr Cole-Hamilton tweeted just before 3pm: “Disappointing, given the severity of the crisis facing our committee and all opposition members supporting my call for a meeting this afternoon, that the convener has deemed it impractical to pull such a meeting together. 

"It won’t now happen. #SalmondInquiry.”

The inquiry is looking at how the Scottish Government botched its probe into sexual misconduct claims made against Mr Salmond by civil servants in 2018.

He had the exercise overturned in a judicial review, showing it was “tainted by apparent bias”, a Government flaw that left taxpayers with a £512,000 for his costs.

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

After the Government’s defence of the civil case collapsed in January 2019, Ms Sturgeon admitted meeting Mr Salmond three times while he was under investigation by her officials.

She told MSPs the first she learned of the probe was when Mr Salmond told her at her Glasgow home on April 2, 2018. She then met him again in June and July. 

Despite the subject matter being the Government probe, Ms Sturgeon told Holyrood she took the meetings in her capacity as SNP leader, and so there were no officials present and the meetings were not minuted.

After referring herself to the independent adviser on the Scottish ministerial code, James Hamilton, she is now being investigated over a possible breach of it, a potential resignation issue.

In his submission to Mr Hamilton, a former Irish prosecutor, Mr Salmond said some of Ms Sturgeon’s claims about their 2018 meetings were “simply untrue” and “untenable”.

He said Holyrood had been "repeatedly misled" about the nature of the April 2, 2018 meeting, and that Ms Sturgeon had helped arrange it four days earlier on the express understanding that it was to discuss the Government probe rather than SNP business.

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He said the earlier meeting, on 29 March 2018, took place in Ms Sturgeon’s Holyrood office, where Mr Salmond’s former chief of staff, Geoff Aberdein, explained the background to her.

Mr Sturgeon later told the inquiry and parliament she had “forgotten” about this earlier meeting, despite its dramatic content, as it had been a busy day at Holyrood.

Breaching the ministerial code would be considered a resignation offence for a minister, including the FM.

Ms Sturgeon, who is due to present her side of the story to the inquiry on February 16, denies any wrongdoing.

Her husband, the SNP chief executive Peter Murrell, is due to return to give evidence on Monday morning after twice ducking a recall request after taking legal advice.

He is expected to be questioned about potentially embarassing text and social media messages about Mr Salmond which he has previously said under oath do not exist.

Scottish Labour has aked the Crown Office to investigate whether Mr Murrell "perjured himself" when he first gave evidence to the inquiry in December.