ANYONE shown to have conspired against Alex Salmond should be sacked, a former SNP minister has said. 

MSP Alex Neil said that if senior SNP and Government figures had been part of a concerted effort to destroy the former First Minister, they should pay with their jobs.

He said: “If it was proven there was a conspiracy – everybody involved in the conspiracy I think would be getting their jotters.”

Mr Neil said Mr Salmond believed Nicola Sturgeon and her inner circle had been “stitching him up” to prevent him making a political comeback.

READ MORE: Liam Fox -  Salmond row making SNP Govt look like 'second-rate tin-pot dictatorship'

Mr Salmond has accused Ms Sturgeon's husband, the SNP chief executive Peter Murrell, and others in the party of trying to ruin him and even have him imprisoned.

Speaking on Radio 4’s Today programme, Mr Neil admitted the growing fallout between Mr Salmond and Ms Sturgeon could hurt the SNP at the Holyrood election.

He said: “I think there’s a real problem now because this is starting to dominate the airwaves at a time when we’re still dealing with the pandemic and also, in four weeks’ time, we go into the initial start of the election campaign.

“I think the SNP leadership has got to try and put a lid on this.”

The former health secretary went on: “He [Mr Salmond] believes that there was a conspiracy to get him.

“Initially he thought it was an attempt to keep him out of public life and not allow him back into the Scottish Parliament after he lost his Westminster seat.

“But I think since then this has grown and he believes a number of people have been involved in conspiring against him and stitching him up.”

READ MORE: Lord Advocate James Wolffe QC says he was out the loop on Salmond evidence censorship

Asked if Mr Salmond believed Ms Sturgeon and her circle were involved in a conspiracy to “do him down”, Mr Neil replied: “Basically, I think he does, yes.”

Mr Salmond lost his Gordon seat at the Westminster election of 2017, but a few months later children's minister Mark McDonald quit in a sleaze scandal, leading to speculation there might be a Holyrood byelection in the overlapping Aberdeen Donside seat.

Mr Neil added: “I think Alex believes after he lost his Westminster seat there was a possibility of a by-election in Scotland in his neck of the woods and he believes some people were frightened of him coming back in, which he says he had no intention of doing anyway.”

A Holyrood inquiry is looking at how the Scottish Government bungled a probe into sexual misconduct claims made against Mr Salmond in 2018.

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

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

He has claimed the prosecution was driven by people close to Ms Sturgeon who resented his victory in the civil case and wanted to damage him and remove from public life, "even to the extent of having me imprisoned".

READ MORE: Crown Office ordered to release evidence of Salmond 'conspiracy'

Mr Salmond claims the Crown Office is sitting on material that supports his claims in order to protect the powerful.

The inquiry yesterday agreed, despite SNP objections, to use its power to compel the production of documents to get the material at issue, which the Crown Office acquired as part of mr Salmond's criminal trial.

The inquiry has asked for all messages between Mr Murrell, SNP chief operating officer Susan Ruddick, SNP compliance officer Ian McCann, and Ms Sturgeon’s government chief of staff Liz Lloyd.

Mr Salmond is due to give evidence to MSPs tomorrow, and Ms Sturgeon is due to testify next week.