I THINK we can be sure that Nicola Sturgeon is not considering resignation after having been found guilty of misleading Parliament by the Holyrood Harassment Committee. 

The First Minister was never going to fall over a technical breach of the ministerial code. The Scottish Green Party leader, Patrick Harvie, has weighed in behind her so she will 
survive Wednesday’s expected censure debate.

Yet, there is little doubt that the First Minister did mislead MSPs about her meetings with Salmond's aides in March 2018. The idea that she would somehow have forgotten that her friend and mentor of 30 years had been accused of sexual harassment is, as the committee says, just not credible.

The crucial test, however, is whether or not this was intentional, and the committee appears to have accepted that she did not “knowingly” mislead Parliament. 

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon facing vote of no confidence over Salmond inquiry crisis

However, her intemperate attack on the Holyrood committee last week may have done more damage than if she had accepted its modest rap on the knuckles and moved on. Normally, political leaders refuse to respond to leaks of committee reports. This is for good reason: final reports are generally less damning that early leaks suggest.

Yet, in a fulminating response on Friday, Nicola Sturgeon said MSPs had “deliberately ignored and suppressed evidence”. 

This is almost a reverse of the truth, since the running theme of the Salmond inquiry has been the committee's inability to get crucial evidence, such as the Government's legal advice until it practically threatened to pack up and leave.

This is not so much the First Minister protesting too much as putting it in neon lights and driving it around on the back of a lorry.

She went on to claim that the committee based its conclusions about what was said in the meetings on “baseless assertion, supposition, and smear”.

This is an astonishing charge to level at a parliamentary committee.

Ms Sturgeon added, puzzlingly, that “she is not the first woman to be let down by a man she once trusted” as if in some way MSPs were conniving with a sexist against the female gender. There has been an undertone of “MeTooism” throughout the Salmond saga, as if it is everyone's moral duty to believe the First Minister and her errant officials, right or wrong. 

The report is being seen as a first strike in the Salmond-Sturgeon wars, but the former first minister never actually called on Ms Sturgeon to resign. 

His targets were always her officials and party apparatchiks. They conducted the incompetent investigation, deemed to be “unlawful, unfair and tainted by apparent bias” by the Court of Session in January 2019.

More than two years after that astonishing ruling by Lord Pentland, no-one has accepted responsibility, let alone resigned. Ms Sturgeon has elected to be her minions’ human shield.

The committee will no doubt criticise one or other of the civil servants who conducted the disciplinary kangaroo court.

The speculation is that the permanent secretary, Leslie Evans, will fall on her sword. She is retiring soon anyway with a generous pension as is the way in the upper echelons of the public sector. 

There has arguably been more than enough to justify a further clearout, even in the very limited evidence revealed to the committee. There was a catalogue of “catastrophic errors”, to use Nicola Sturgeon's own words, that led to unfair and unjust treatment, 
both of Mr Salmond and the complainants.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon's office trash Alex Salmond inquiry after bombshell finding

In a sworn statement, the SNP lawyer, Anne Harvey, accused SNP officials of conducting 
a “witch hunt” against Alex Salmond. 

There are messages suggesting that the First Minister’s husband, Peter Murrell, was pressurising the police. 

The SNP’s chief operating officer, Sue Ruddick, is in the frame for texting: “What happens when my name comes up as fishing for other (complainants) to come forward”. 

This was after the police investigation had commenced. 

It will be claimed that they were all, as Nicola Sturgeon insisted in her own evidence, acting supportively “in the context of MeToo”.

Something had to be done, and done quickly about Salmond's misconduct, whatever the rules said. The Crown Office has justified the withholding of evidence on the grounds that it is protecting the anonymity of his complainants.

Indeed, the Lord Advocate is currently seeking retrospectively to censor evidence already in the public domain, suggesting that, like Doctor Who, James Wolffe QC possesses a time machine.

The inconvenient truth, as it turned out, is that Alex Salmond was found innocent of all 13 charges that the SNP officials and the police procured.

Still, looking at how he has been treated since, whatever the committee reports on Tuesday it seems the minions got their man.