A SENIOR SNP MSP has called for a judge-led inquiry into a possible criminal conspiracy against Alex Salmond involving “the institutions of the state”.

Alex Neil, a former Scottish Government health secretary, said people in Scotland had to know whether the civil service and other arms of the state had been “abused” for political reasons.

Salmond was acquitted of 13 sexual offence charges on Monday after a two-week trial at the High Court in Edinburgh.

His defence team had wanted to present evidence during his trial about a “concerted effort” to “discredit” the former First Minister.

However, judge Lady Dorrian refused to allow most of it in case the trial strayed off into “collateral” matters, rather than focusing on the charges on the indictment.

Speaking outside court, Salmond said he intended to present his case regardless to the public after the coronavirus crisis had passed.

“At some point that information, those facts and that evidence will see the light of day,” he said.

In court, Salmond described allegations against him as “deliberate fabrications for a political purpose” and “exaggerations”.

On BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland yesterday, Neil said the claim of a conspiracy had to be examined independently.

He said: “The central case being put by the defence was that there was a conspiracy against Alex Salmond – an organised and I think, allegedly, a criminal conspiracy.

“If the organs of the state like the civil service, Crown Office and government advisers are involved in any such conspiracy, that’s a very, very serious matter.

“My view is that, once the coronavirus crisis is over, there needs to be a judge-led independent inquiry to find out, was there a conspiracy?

If there was, what was the conspiracy? Who was involved? And was there criminality involved in such a conspiracy?”

Asked about his suggestion that the Crown Office might have been party to a plot, Neil said: “Well, that’s what we need to find out. The allegation is that there was a conspiracy involving a number of people to do in Alex Salmond.

“Now, if we end up with decisions, for example, made by the civil service which are driven by political motivation that’s a very, very serious allegation.

“I’m not saying there was and I’m not saying there wasn’t. I don’t know.

“But what I think there needs to be is a proper inquiry to find out the truth, because clearly if such activity is and has been happening, then there is a big issue to be addressed.

“You cannot have the institutions of the state involved in such a conspiracy, if there was one.”

Asked why there would have been a conspiracy against Salmond, given he hasn’t been an elected politician since mid-2017, Neil said: “I don’t know. I’m not the one making the allegation that there was a conspiracy.

Put to him that he appeared to believe there was a conspiracy, the Airdrie and Shotts MSP replied: “You have to take the allegation seriously. This was the core of the defence case.”

Asked who could carry out such an investigation, he said: “It’s not just those who believe it. It’s those who don’t believe it have to be satisfied as well. Society has to be satisfied. And my view is there has to be an independent judge-led inquiry once the coronavirus is over to find out if there was a conspiracy.”