ALEX Salmond has cancelled his appearance at the Holyrood inquiry about him after his evidence was censored on the advice of prosecutors he had heavily criticised.

The former First Minister had been due to testify under oath tomorrow, but pulled out after the parliament redacted his submission in line with demands from the Crown Office. 

He has offered to appear instead on Friday, but this is conditional on him taking further legal advice.

The move followed a bitter row over the parliament's confused handling of his evidence.

Shortly before Mr Salmond cancelled, Labour MSP Neil Findlay warned the parliament was suffering a "crisis of credibility" over the censorship of the material.

Tory MSP Adam Tomkins said Holyrood had made a "shameful, historic error" in folding to the Crown Office.

Such criticisms are now likely to grow.

Mr Salmond's decision came after a day of frantic manoeuvring and blames games at Holyrood about evidence the parliament published on its website on Monday evening. 

HeraldScotland: Camley's Cartoon: Alex Salmond cancels inquiry appearance.Camley's Cartoon: Alex Salmond cancels inquiry appearance.

In it, the former First Minister accused Nicola Sturgeon of repeatedly misleading parliament and breaching the ministerial code - a resignation offence she vigorously denies.

The Crown Office then raised “grave concerns” with the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body (SPCB), the cross-party management group which had sanctioned publication.

Prosecutors warned some of the material could breach a court order related to Mr Salmond’s criminal trial.

READ MORE: MSP warns Holyrood suffering 'crisis of credibility' over censored Alex Salmond evidence

In an emergency meeting this morning, the SPCB then agreed to redact the submission “in line with presentations from the Crown Office”.

Mr Salmond’s 36-page submission on the ministerial code was removed from the parliament’s website and reissued with five of its 33 sections replaced by purple bars. 

Bizarrely, one of the paragraphs deleted is wholly unrelated to Mr Salmond's criminal trial, and alleges Ms Sturgeon breached the Scottish ministerial code by making an "untrue" statement to Holyrood in 2019.

Other claims to the same effect remain untouched.

The inquiry is looking at how the Scottish Government bungled a probe into sexual misconduct allegations made against Mr Salmond by civil servants in 2018.

He had the exercise overturned in a judicial review in January 2019, showing it had been unfair, unlawful and “tainted by apparent bias”.

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

The Government’s mistakes left taxpayers with a £512,000 bill for his legal costs.

After his victory in the civil case, Mr Salmond was charged with sexual assault but cleared on all counts at a High Court trial last March.

In response to the SPCB’s redactions, Mr Salmond’s lawyers said there was “no legal basis” for them, and demanded to see the grounds on which the redactions were made.

They also warned their client might pull out of tomorrow’s appearance. 

Mr Salmond had made publication in an acceptable form a pre-condition of his testimony, so that his claims can appear in the inquiry's final report and be used to question witnesses.

David McKie of Glasgow-based Levy & McRae said : "As matters stand, we have advised him that the apparent intervention from the Crown suggests that there has to be a material risk to him in speaking to his submission. He cannot be placed in legal jeopardy."

Mr Salmond was said to be “alarmed at the interference of Crown Office in a parliamentary Inquiry”, especially after a related legal case earlier this month sought to clarify the issue.

The move reinforced his "concerns" about the Crown Office under Lord Advocate James Wolffe QC, who he criticised in other, uncensored parts of his final submission.

Mr Salmond also claims there was a plot by senior SNP figures, including Nicola Sturgeon's husband, party chief executive Peter Murrell, to damage and even jail him.

He said the Crown Office was withholding material from the inquiry which would prove this.

He also said Mr Wolffe was "manifestly conflicted" in his dual role as both the head of Scotland's prosecution service and the Scottish Government's top legal adviser, while the Crown Office under his leadership was “simply not fit for purpose”.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon challenges Alex Salmond to prove 'conspiracy' against him

In response to Mr McKie’s first letter, the parliament’s top official refused to share the legal basis of the redactions.

Inquiry convener Linda Fabiani also offered Mr Salmond the chance to speak to his other evidence today based on written guidance “on the parameters of questioning”.

In response to them, Mr McKie said: "As we made clear, a substantial part of client’s evidence was deleted without reference to him which has created a significant legal impediment to his oral evidence.

"That impediment requires careful consideration and reflection as well as legal advice.

"In light of all these factors, it was clear that both our client and we needed time to consider this material shift in position.

"In addition, he is travelling from Aberdeenshire and would have no time to have a meaningful discussion in the time afforded for his evidence session. 

"These are important matters which have to be dealt with responsibly.

"It is now clearly impossible for him to attend tomorrow in these circumstances, but he remains willing to attend on Friday."

It is understood the inquiry may now vote on whether to take evidence from him on Friday.

Its SNP and Green members have previously out-voted the Unionist members in controversial evidence decisions.

The SPCB is chaired by Presiding Officer Ken Macintosh and includes one MSP from each of Holyrood's five parties.

SNP MSP George Adam said the MSPs on the SPCB who agreed to publish Mr Salmond's evidence owed the parliament an apology.

Mr Tomkins, a Glasgow University law professor, tweeted: “The history of parliaments in this country is that we stand up to the Crown. But not today. Today a parliament folded. That’s not a farce. It’s a tragedy. And it’s a shameful, historic error.”

A Scottish Parliament spokesperson said: “Mr Salmond has informed the Committee that he will not be attending tomorrow’s meeting to give evidence.

"The Committee will instead meet in private to discuss the implications of Mr Salmond’s response and the next steps for its work.”