THE SNP members of the Holyrood inquiry into the Alex Salmond affair have accused their fellow MSPs of leaks, smears and betraying the complainers.

In a damning statement, Alasdair Allan, Maureen Watt and Stuart McMillan attacked opposition members of the committee for pursuing "naked party politics".

It comes after the inquiry concluded Nicola Sturgeon misled the committee and so misled parliament. 

READ MORE: Confirmed: Nicola Sturgeon 'misled' Alex Salmond inquiry, MSPs find

Members voted five to four that the First Minister gave "an inaccurate account" of what happened at a meeting with Mr Salmond in April 2018.

Only the four SNP MSPs cleared their leader.

The findings are separate from those of Irish lawyer James Hamilton, who reported on Monday that there had been no breach of the ministerial code by the First Minister over her role in the saga.

In a 192-page report, the Holyrood inquiry also found the Scottish Government’s handling of harassment complaints, and the subsequent judicial review, was "seriously flawed".

Mr Allan, Ms Watt and Mr McMillan released their statement after the report's long-awaited publication this morning.

Committee convener Linda Fabiani, also an SNP MSP, did not sign the statement.

The MSPs said: "Over the course of many weeks we heard from civil servants about exactly what went wrong, and we have made a set of recommendations to remedy obvious faults and shortcomings.

"We identified that civil servants were evidently too assured of their own capabilities to design and administer these procedures and that appears to have bred over-confidence if not complacency. 

"From the outset, the matters we investigated were handled by too small a coterie of civil servants, without sufficient checks, balances and external opinion and without due appreciation of the potential significance of their undertaking."

They said they were "satisfied Mr Hamilton has subsequently delivered his clear conclusion that the First Minister did not breach the code".

The MSPs added: "These are some of the positive outcomes of this process.

"However, we have substantial concerns that unfortunate behaviour by some committee members will have a chilling and counterproductive effect on our primary objective of protecting the best interests of women.

"We fear conduct over several months of some members - their skewed focus, overt politicisation and lamentable disregard for complainers – will dissuade women from coming forward in the future. That is a matter of the deepest regret."

They said the trust of the two original complainers was "betrayed by a committee member who decided not only to leak the women’s evidence against their directly expressed wishes but to distort and misrepresent that evidence for political ends". 

They added: "That betrayal of trust should be a matter of grave concern for all who cherish decency and integrity.

"That disregard for these women is unworthy of this parliament and a discredit to those responsible. 

"Sadly, it was just the latest, if perhaps the most egregious, in a litany of leaks from what should have been a confidential process.

"For some committee members, the requisite degree of impartial objectivity was deserted in pursuit of naked party politics

"Their leaks, misdirection, speculation and smears by press release or social media created a media circus which added immeasurably to the women’s ordeal.

"We know that to be the case because, so damaging was the increasingly febrile coverage fed by constant media leaks and speculation, the women felt compelled to publicly ask for it to stop."

The MSPs continued: "Yet some members ploughed on, apparently considering the women collateral damage in their pursuit of political agendas. 

"This unprincipled repeated pattern of behaviour was not just a betrayal of the women but a deliberate attempt to undermine Scotland’s parliament.

"Some members chose to use the committee as a vehicle to diverge down increasingly bizarre and obscure rabbit holes, prompted by conspiracy theories emanating from outside Parliament that, without exception, immediately fell apart under scrutiny.

"This culminated in the spectacle of the Scottish Parliament using its powers under s.23 of the Scotland Act for the first time, not to order the release of important documents or the appearance of a crucial committee witnesses, but instead for the recovery of communications between private individuals which proved to be simple messages between women supporting each other through an ordeal not of their making.

"We also had the inexplicable decision of the Scottish Parliament Corporate Body to publish evidence despite being warned that it was legally unsafe to do so.

"This avoidable episode enabled unscrupulous opposition leaders and media commentators to make groundless accusations against the integrity of Scotland’s institutions.

"And then last week, we had the final unedifying outcome of amendments being brought forward and voted to be included as final conclusions based on prejudiced opinion with no evidential basis in fact.

"This committee was trusted with the task of helping those who come forward with complaints of workplace abuse - but members of this committee abused that trust."