A TORY MP has used parliamentary privilege to reveal “whistleblower” evidence about the Alex Salmond affair and claim Nicola Sturgeon misled Holyrood.

David Davis said the First Minister knew Mr Salmond was being investigated by her officials for alleged sexual misconduct well before the date she gave to MSPs.

Mr Davis also alleged Ms Sturgeon’s chief of staff had been “interfering” in the process.

And he said evidence given under oath by Ms Sturgeon’s husband, SNP chief executive Peter Murrell, was “hard to reconcile” with the leaked material he had seen. 

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

The former First Minister had the exercise quashed in a judicial review in January 2019, showing the whole process had been “tainted by apparent bias”.

READ MORE: David Davis - 'concerted effort by senior members of the SNP to encourage complaints'

After the Government’s defence collapsed, Ms Sturgeon revealed she had three meetings and two calls with Mr Salmond about the probe, and insisted she first learned about the investigation when he told her himself at her Glasgow home on April 2, 2018.

It later emerged Mr Salmond’s former chief of staff Geoff Aberdein told Ms Sturgeon on March 29, a meeting she claims she forgot as it was a busy day at Holyrood.

If Ms Sturgeon knowingly misled parliament on the point it would be a breach of the Scottish ministerial code - a resignation offence which she denies.

Mr Davis said the Crown Office was barring publication of evidence which was “critical in determining whether Nicola Sturgeon breached the ministerial code”.

He said: “It is clearly in the public interest to see this evidence. I have it on good authority that there exists from 6 February 2018 an exchange of messages between civil servants Judith McKinnon and Barbara Allison suggesting that the First Minister’s chief of staff is interfering in the complaints process against Alex Salmond. 

“The investigating officer complained, ‘Liz interference v. bad’. 

“I assume that that means very bad. If true, this suggests that the chief of staff had knowledge of the Salmond case in February, not in April. 

“The First Minister tied herself to that April date in both parliamentary and legal statements. She was, of course, aware earlier than that. The question is just how aware and how much earlier.”

The former Brexit Secretary said he had been sent “dozens” of messages from the phone of SNP chief operating officer Sue Ruddick, which were obtained for Mr Salmond’s criminal trial last year.

Mr Salmond wanted the jury to see them, but was blocked by judge Lady Dorrian.

READ MORE: Alex Salmond affair review calls for independent complaints process

He claims the messages show a concerted and malicious effort by senior SNP and Scottish Government figures close to Ms Sturgeon to ruin and even imprison him.

However the Holyrood inquiry has refused to publish them. 

Mr Salmond has been threatened with prosection if he makes them public himself, as they were obtained solely for the purpose of his trial defence.

However Mr Davis told the Commons he had been leaked text messages downloaded from Ms Ruddick’s phone and proceeded to share some of them.

Speaking in an adjournment debate, he said he was doing so because the Holyrood inquiry had been hamstrung by the Scottish Parliament’s limited powers.

He said: “We need to reinforce the ability of the Scottish Parliament to hold its own Government to account.

"I am here to strengthen the Scottish Parliament, not to bury it.

“A few weeks ago I was passed some papers from an anonymous whistleblower.

“The information in those papers consisted of a download of text messages from the telephone of Sue Ruddick, the chief operating officer of the Scottish National party.”

After SNP MP Own Thompson warned court orders were in place to protect the anonymity of Mr Salmond’s accusers, Mr Davis said he had often raised whistleblower issues in the past. 

The Haltemprice and Howden MP said: “Now Alex Salmond has asserted that there has been, and I quote ‘a malicious and concerted attempt to remove me from public life in Scotland by a range of individuals within the Scottish government and the SNP’ who set out to damage his reputation, even to the extent of having him imprisoned.

“These are incredibly grave charges, the whistleblower clearly agrees with those charges.

“He or she starts their communication with the assertion that the evidence provided, and I quote, ‘point to collusion, perjury, up to criminal conspiracy’.”

Mr Davis told MPs the messages presented a case “which demands serious investigation, by which I mean at the very least a thorough review of all the emails and other electronic records for the relevant personnel at all the relevant times”.

He added: “For example, these texts show that there is a concerted effort by senior members of the SNP to encourage complaints.

“The messages suggest that SNP chief executive Peter Murrell co-ordinated Ruddick and Ian McCann, the SNP’s compliance officer, in the handling of specific complainants. 

“On 28 September [2018], a month after the police had started their investigation of the criminal case, McCann expressed great disappointment to Ruddick that someone who had promised to deliver five complainants to him by the end of that week had come up empty, or ‘overreached’, as he put it. One of the complainants said to Ruddick that she was ‘feeling pressurised by the whole thing rather than supported’.

“The day following the Scottish Government’s collapse in a judicial review in January 2019, Ruddick expressed to McCann the hope that one of the complainants would be ‘sickened enough to get back in the game’. 

“Later that month, she confirmed to Murrell that the complainant was now ‘up for the fight’ and ‘keen to see him go to jail’.

“Ruddick herself, in one of her texts, expressed nervousness about ‘what happens when my name comes out as [redacted] fishing for others to come forward’.”

READ MORE: Police warned against Scottish Government publicising Salmond probe

Mr Davis said that, given a police investigation was underway in late 2018, this was “improper”.

However in preliminary hearing before Mr Salmond’s trial, Lady Dorrian noted there was nothing improper in people encouraging others to report a crime.

Mr Davis said the Salmond inquiry had shown the need for a greater separation of powers in Scotland between the Government, the parliament and the justice system.

He said: “The Holyrood inquiry has exposed some critical failings at the heart of the Scottish Government. They failed with the complaints process, they failed to heed legal advice, and they failed to honour commitments to ensure a transparent parliamentary review, but perhaps more worryingly the inquiry has revealed the limits of what the Scottish Parliament can expose. There is a deficit of power, and with it comes a deficit of accountability.” 

Replying for the Government, Scotland Office minister Iain Stewart did not comment specifically on the allegations made by Mr Davis.

Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross said: “If the First Minister’s side were aware of complaints against Alex Salmond in February 2018, an outrageous breach of those women’s privacy and confidentiality has occurred.

“February 2018 is also two months before Nicola Sturgeon originally claimed to find out about complaints. If her chief of staff knew then, and was interfering in the investigation, it blows another enormous hole in the First Minister’s story.

“If civil servants said the First Minister’s chief of staff was interfering in the investigation in a ‘very bad’ way, then that is a sacking offence.

"It raises serious questions about how she tried to interfere, how she found out, who told her, when she knew, and who she went on to tell.

“It further raises the question if anyone told Nicola Sturgeon that her chief of staff was interfering in the investigation. If they did, a number of lies have been told to the Scottish Parliament. If they didn’t, it still makes Nicola Sturgeon’s story of when she claims to have found out about complaints even more implausible.

“These are all ‘ifs’. We need Nicola Sturgeon to immediately confirm or deny these new allegations, and to agree to release the evidence that has been cited this week.”

The First Minister’s spokesman said in a statement: “As with Mr Salmond’s previous claims and cherry picking of messages, the reality is very different to the picture being presented.

“Every message involving SNP staff has been seen by the committee previously. 

“Their views have been widely reported as dismissive of them.”