Hundreds of official complaints to the independent Ethical Standards Commissioner about the Alex Salmond inquiry have been dismissed due to lack of “sufficient evidence.”

According to the watchdog’s annual report, published last week, 713 people complained towards the end of the 2021/22 financial year, just as the Holyrood probe into the Scottish Government’s botched handling of harassment allegations against the former first minister came to an end.

Of those 234 were removed because they didn't name a specific MSP.

The remaining 479 were then ruled inadmissible because there was not "enough substance to justify further investigation."

Tory MSP Murdo Fraser who sat on the committee, and has, over the years, had 135 complaints made against him, none of which have been upheld, said there had been “an orchestrated online campaign by cybernats to encourage the submission of complaints against opposition MSPs on the Salmond inquiry committee.”

It is thought most of the complaints were linked to the leaking of the committee’s findings, however, those being investigated are not allowed to discuss the details..

In March last year, just days before the publication, Sky News obtained some of the key details of the final report.

They were able to say that by five votes to four, MSPs on the committee had decided Nicola Sturgeon’s evidence was “an inaccurate account of what happened and she has misled the committee on this matter”.

At the time, the then first minister said the leaks were “partisan,” and suggested it was a member of the opposition who had shared the findings.

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

Linda Fabiani, the SNP MSP who chaired the committee, said they were “selective” and “party political”.

The MSP’s Code of Conduct requires that all drafts of committee reports be kept confidential.

The committee was set up after former First Minister Alex Salmond had the government's investigation into complaints against set aside in a judicial review, leaving taxpayers with a £512,000 bill for his costs.

After a draft of some of the report was leaked to the media, the SNP members, Alasdair Allan, Maureen Watt and Stuart Macmillan, attacked the rest of the committee, accusing them of engaging in the “politics of desperation.”

However, last year, the former Green MSP Andy Wightman suggested it was the SNP who had leaked the report.

In his annual report, the Ethical Standards Commissioner Ian Bruce, does not mention the Salmond inquiry directly.

He said: “In October 2022 we completed our investigation of the “super complaint”, which we began investigating in the 2020/21 financial year.

“It was the largest, most extensive and most complex set of complaints about MSP conduct that our office had ever received and it required a significant amount of staff time and resources to investigate to a conclusion.

“All investigatory staff had to be trained in MSP complaint-handling in order to progress this work, which will stand us in good stead for the future.”

In a section detailing the outcomes of investigations, the Commissioner says 489 complaints were dismissed in the 2022/23 financial year, as they failed to meet the standard set in the the relevant legislation that an investigation can only take place if there is “sufficient evidence to justify further investigation.”

According to the Commissioner’s website, this stage should take “no longer than two months.”

However, the sheer scale of the complaints lodged about the Salmond inquiry meant it took closer to a year.

READ MORE: Salmond inquiry members questioned under oath

Mr Fraser told The Herald on Sunday:” My concern is that we have far too many spurious, unfounded, politically-motivated complaints against MSPs, particularly those in opposition. In relation to the ‘super-complaint’, I was able to give the Commissioner evidence of an orchestrated online campaign by cyberNats to encourage the submission of complaints against opposition MSPs on the Salmond Inquiry Committee.

“Personally, I have had at least 135 complaints against me, every one of which has been dismissed as without merit or ruled as inadmissible.

“However, this takes up an inordinate amount of the Commissioner’s time, not to mention the impact on me and my staff.

“The super-complaint took 11 months to be dismissed from the point I was first advised of it. Although I was entirely clear that I was innocent of all wrongdoing, it was not pleasant having this having over me for such a length of time.

“My view is that there needs to be some greater ‘screening’ of complaints at an early stage to rule out those which are clearly spurious, unfounded and have no supporting evidence.”

The Ethical Standards Commissioner's office has been approached for comment.