SCOTLAND’S top police officer raised “concerns” about the Scottish Government’s plan to publicise its misconduct probe into Alex Salmond, newly-released evidence confirms.

A witness statement released by the Holyrood inquiry into the Salmond affair shows Chief Constable Iain Livingstone was unhappy with the plan in August 2018.

The statement, by Detective Chief Superintendent Lesley Boal, who went on to lead the criminal investigation into Mr Salmond, shows she also baulked at the idea.

The police were concerned about anything which could compromise any future investigation of their own.

However the Government pressed on regardless.

The misgivings were conveyed to the Crown Agent David Harvie, the lead civil servant at the Crown Office, when  he met the two police officers to inform them about the case on 21 August 2018.

The meeting was called by Mr Harvie after his line manager, the Government’s Permanent Secretary Leslie Evans, completed a decision report on complaints made by two civil servants against Mr Salmond which led to a seven-month probe within the Government.

Ms Evans also decided to make a public statement on the former First Minsister's case a few days later.

Despite the complainers against Mr Salmond wanting to keep the police out of the matter, the Government also decided to involve Police Scotland.

At the meeting with Mr Livingstone and DCS Boal, Mr Harvie said the Government had referred “matters for investigation of potential criminality”. 

DCS Boal said Mr Harvie passed on what were considered relevant statements, although they were “more a series of listed questions and responses from anonymised individuals”.

She said he told her two individuals had made formal complaints, but that there “may be other potential complainers who had not engaged” in the internal conduct investigation.

“It was agreed that a proactive approach would be required whereby other persons who held similar roles may need to be approached,” she said.

DCS Boal’s statement said Mr Harvie offered her a copy of the Scottish Government’s internal conduct conclusion report, which contained detailed allegations.

She said: “I refused this offer and neither I, nor the Chief Constable, viewed this document.”

On Ms Evans’s plan to publicise the in-house probe, DCS Boal said: “I was also informed that Scottish Government may be making a public statement in relation to the outcome of their investigation and potentially to refer to information being provided to Police Scotland.

“Both the Chief Constable and I both voiced our concerns at such a statement being provided.

“As such, it was agreed that the main priority was to make contact with the two individuals who had made a complaint to the Scottish Government.”

Despite the police warnings, Ms Evans told Mr Salmond a few days later that she intended to make a public statement about his case.

After Mr Salmond threatened an interdict to stop her, she backed down. 

However the fact of the investigation was leaked to the Daily Record within 24 hours, and it became public knowledge regardless.

Mr Salmond went on to challenge the Government’s probe in a judicial review at the Court of Session, showing it had been “tainted by apparent bias”, and received £512,00 in costs.

He was later charged with sexual assault and acquitted on all counts at trial in March 2020.

The statement from DCS Boal was obtained by the MSPs looking into how the Government bungled its probe and mishandled its defence of the the judicial review.

The statement, dated 25 September 2019, was obtained from the Crown Office after the inquiry demanded its production under rarely-used Holyrood powers.

The Crown Office said it was an “operational police witness statement which was not given under oath”, although DCS Boal did give sworn testimony at Mr Salmond’s trial.