THE CLAIM made by Alex Salmond that it was Nicola Sturgeon’s staff who leaked the name of one of the women who complained about his behaviour has been corroborated by an ex-civil servant.

Lorraine Kay told a Holyrood inquiry that a complainer’s identity had been shared with Geoff Aberdein, Mr Salmond’s chief of staff.

Ms Kay, who worked in the then-first minister’s private office for five years, is the third person to back up Mr Salmond’s statement that a government official revealed the name of one of the women who had come forward with an allegation.

Written evidence from Duncan Hamilton, a former SNP MSP and lawyer for Mr Salmond, and the SNP’s former communications director, Kevin Pringle, both confirmed Mr Aberdein told them a complainer’s name was shared with him.

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In a letter to the committee examining the government’s unlawful investigation of Mr Salmond, but redacted by the Scottish Parliament, Ms Kay wrote: “I can confirm that Geoff confided in me, back in early March 2018, at the time when [redacted] requested a meeting with him.

“I met with Geoff after his meeting with [redacted], and was shocked to hear that the Scottish Government had received two complaints about Mr Salmond.

“Geoff also shared with me that [redacted] had named one of the complainants – I recall this clearly as I knew the individual concerned.

“I believe I was the first person Geoff spoke to about this issue.”

Nicola Sturgeon, who was not at the meeting where the name was allegedly shared, has argued that the name was not leaked.

HeraldScotland: John Swinney said the inquiry should be left to come to its conclusions.John Swinney said the inquiry should be left to come to its conclusions.

When she was first challenged about the claims at FMQs, Ms Sturgeon said: “To the very best of my knowledge, I do not think that happened.”

Speaking under oath during her evidence session before the committee, she said: “The account that I have been given has given me assurance that what is alleged to have happened at that meeting did not happen in the way that has been described.”

She suggested that Mr Salmond may have already known the name of one of the complainers “because he had apologised to the person concerned” and had possibly discovered the identity of the other “through his own investigations”.

It comes after Tory MP David Davis yesterday claimed messages disclosed by a whistleblower show there was a “concerted effort by senior members of the SNP to encourage complaints” against the former first minister.

READ MORE: Tory MP reveals Salmond 'conspiracy' messages in Commons

Mr Davis told the Commons the messages present a case “which demands serious investigation”.

But deputy First Minister John Swinney told BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme on Wednesday that the inquiry should be left to come to its conclusions.

He said: “The First Minister spent eight hours of the harassment committee giving comprehensive answers to every question that was put to her and she stands by all of that information.

“We’ve set up the process of inquiry, I think we should let it take its course and come to the conclusions that we need to, as I’ve said we will do, in connection with the reports that arise out of these events.”

Commenting on Ms Sturgeon’s appearance at the committee, he added: “The First Minister gave an open and candid account of the involvement that she’s had and her recollections of this process and obviously we await the outcome of the different inquiries that are looking at these issues.”

A spokesman for Ms Sturgeon said: “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.”