A SENIOR judge who agreed to alter a court order made during Alex Salmond's criminal trial has published her full reasons for doing so.

Lady Dorrian issued the judgment following a legal challenge taken by The Spectator magazine last week.

Mr Salmond's team believe the move should allow evidence he submitted to an ongoing Holyrood inquiry to be published after he resubmits it tomorrow.

However it is not yet clear whether this will happen.

MSPs on the inquiry are looking at how the Scottish Government botched its probe into sexual misconduct claims made against the former first minister by two civil servants in 2018.

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Mr Salmond was due to give evidence last week but a row broke out after the inquiry narrowly vetoed publishing a submission by him.

The submission contains multiple accusations against First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, including that she repeatedly misled parliament and so breached the Scottish ministerial code - a resignation offence which she denies.

The decision appeared to rule out Mr Salmond ever testifying in person, as he had made publication of the submission a precondition of an appearance.

However Mr Salmond's team believe it could now be published following court action taken by The Spectator.

The magazine challenged the scope and terms of a court order made during the former first minister's trial to protect the anonymity of his accusers.

Ronald Clancy QC, who was representing the magazine in its High Court application, said there was a concern the Holyrood inquiry was being "overcautious" in its interpretation of the order, which he argued was not sufficiently clear.

He said there is a "perfectly legitimate public interest" in publishing evidence relating to alleged breaches of the ministerial code.

He said: "We have a positive indication from the committee that they are interested in clarification of the scope of the order."

Following a hearing, Lady Dorrian agreed to vary it slightly.

She said in her view the wording of the order made clear that it is to "prevent publication of matter relating to the individuals which would be likely to lead members of the public to identify them as the persons against whom the offences alleged in the trial are said to have been committed". 

She added: "There should be no confusion about the matter.

"However, I recognised that a reputable journal and responsible senior counsel have suggested otherwise, and that any slight risk of misinterpretation could readily be addressed by the addition of a few words to the order, which the Crown did not oppose."

The Spectator's lawyers had wanted the words "in connection with these proceedings" to be added to the order, which states that it prevents "the publication of the names and identity, and any information likely to disclose the identity, of the complainers in the case of HMA v Alexander Elliot Anderson Salmond".

However Lady Dorrian said this ran the risk of "actually creating confusion and of diminishing the protection of complainers". 

She said: "I considered that the addition of the words 'as such complainers in those proceedings' would serve to highlight the scope of the order whilst maintaining the necessary protection for complainers. I agreed therefore to vary the order to that extent."

In her ruling, Lady Dorrian made clear "all matters relating" to the Holyrood committee's decisions "are in my view wholly irrelevant to any matters which it is within the jurisdiction of the court to address". 

She said: "These are all matters entirely in the hands of the committee and it is not for this court to interfere with that or to seek to direct the committee in any way.

"The only matter with which this court should be concerned is whether the order made is clear, and is sufficient as a mechanism to enforce the common law order withholding the identity of the complainers in the criminal proceedings, and preventing publication of material likely to lead to such an identification."

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Lady Dorrian's written reasons will prove crucial in influencing the committee's decision on whether to publish Mr Salmond's submission.

Mr Salmond was cleared of multiple counts of sexual assault following a trial at the High Court in Edinburgh last year.

The row around his evidence means Ms Sturgeon could have to wait until next month to give evidence to the Holyrood inquiry.

She was due to appear before the committee today, but this has been postponed.

MSPs will take time to further consider Mr Salmond's evidence when it is resubmitted.

The former first minister could then give evidence in person around February 23.

Ms Sturgeon could give evidence the following week, potentially on March 2.

The Spectator's lawyers had initially wanted Lady Dorrian to exclude from the effect of the order all evidence submitted to the Holyrood inquiry and "all reports issued by" it. However this was dropped.