ALEX Salmond said he has "made many mistakes" in life but strenuously denied sexual harassment complaints made against him during his time as Scotland's first minister.

The Scottish Government has confirmed it received two complaints regarding Salmond, who has described the allegations as "patently ridiculous".

Salmond was informed of an investigation in March and intends to take court action against the Scottish Government to contest the complaints process activated against him.

He said the process was "unjust" and did not allow him to present his case.

Salmond said: "I have made many mistakes in my life, political and personal, but I have not sexually harassed anyone and I certainly have not been engaged in criminality."

During another interview, he added: "I can't specify what the complaints are because I'm going to court, and I specifically and absolutely deny any suggestion of criminality.

"That's my position. I'm going to court, the Scottish Government are going to have to account for themselves at court.

"Let the Court of Session do its job. If I lose then I publicly answer the complaints, if I win then we're in a different situation altogether, but at least we'll have established some semblance of fairness."

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the complaints cannot be "swept under the carpet" despite the difficult situation created for herself and the SNP.

Sturgeon said her relationship with her predecessor "makes this an extremely difficult situation for me to come to terms with", but that due process must be followed.

She said: "This will be extremely upsetting to members of the SNP up and down the country. It's a difficult situation but what is important is that complaints are treated seriously, regardless of who the person complained about is.

"That is a principle that cannot be applied selectively no matter how difficult that may be for me, my party or for others."

Leslie Evans, Permanent Secretary at the Scottish Government, said an internal review was launched last year into the Scottish Government's procedures for handling complaints in the workplace in light of wider concerns about harassment at Westminster and the Scottish Parliament.

As part of that review, a new procedure on handling harassment complaints involving current or former ministers was introduced.

She said two complaints were raised in January against Salmond and he was notified in March about an investigation.

The Daily Record reported that allegations about his conduct towards two staff members in 2013 – while he was in office – have been handed to Police Scotland.

A force spokesman said: "We are carrying out an assessment of information which we have received and inquiries are at an early stage."

Asked if Salmond is still a member of the SNP, Sturgeon said: "These matters will be considered in the fullness of time.

"This has not been a party investigation, I have limited information, for legal reasons that information I am not able to pass to the party, so the situation will undoubtedly develop as more information becomes available, but I am not able to confirm more than I have at this stage."