NICOLA Sturgeon has "strongly refuted" explosive claims made by Conservative MP David Davis about the Alex Salmond saga.

The First Minister said she would not be sidetracked "by the latest instalment of Alex Salmond's conspiracy theory" as she faced repeated questions over the allegations during her regular coronavirus briefing.

It comes after Mr Davis used parliamentary privilege to claim 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 David Davis reveals Alex Salmond 'conspiracy' messages in Commons

He told the Commons the messages present a case "which demands serious investigation".

Mr Davis also alleged messages exist that suggest Ms Sturgeon’s chief of staff, Liz Lloyd, had been “interfering” in the complaints process in February 2018.

Asked about the claims, Ms Sturgeon said: "I refute - strongly refute - the suggestions and insinuations from David Davis in the House of Commons last night. 

"I am not going to have this Covid briefing sidetracked by the latest instalment of Alex Salmond's conspiracy theory, and that's just how it is today.

"I have given eight hours of evidence to the parliamentary committee looking into this. 

"They are now able to assess all of the evidence they've taken, including, I'm sure, the evidence they have in relation to the suggestions and claims made by David Davis last night. 

"They have a job of work to do now. I'm going to allow them to do that job of work and in the meantime I'm going to get on with my job, which for the moment is leading this Covid briefing. 

"Because I'm pretty sure most of the people watching right now want to hear about the Covid situation.

"I'll make that comment and that is all I am saying in the course of this briefing."

Asked later if she still had "full confidence" in Ms Lloyd, Ms Sturgeon said: “Yes.”

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

The former first minister had the exercise quashed in a judicial review in January 2019, after the Government conceded it had been “tainted by apparent bias”.

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 of claims on March 29, a meeting she claims she forgot.

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

Speaking in the Commons, Mr Davis said the Crown Office was barring publication of evidence which was "critical in determining whether Nicola Sturgeon breached the ministerial code".

READ MORE: Alex Salmond affair: Lorraine Kay corroborates claim that Nicola Sturgeon staff leaked name

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.”

Last night, 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."