ALEX Salmond and his lawyers will fight in the courts any assertion in public that the former First Minister is less than entirely innocent of the charges of which he was acquitted in the High Court in Edinburgh a week ago.

The National can reveal that though he and his wife Moira are in a 12-week lockdown at their home, Salmond and his lawyers are prepared to instigate legal actions for defamation to protect him from further attacks in the media and elsewhere.

This follows Rape Crisis Scotland’s statement on behalf of the women who made the sexual allegations against the former First Minister. The anonymous women said they were “devastated” by the verdicts and added their “hope that as a society we can move forward in our understanding of sexual harassment and sexual assault” even though Salmond was cleared of all charges of sexual assault.

Yesterday Gordon Jackson QC, the head of Alex Salmond’s legal team, referred himself to the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission over a newspaper report that he named two of the women accusers in public and called one of them “a flake”.

Though he can also be heard using the words “sex pest” in relation to Salmond on a smartphone recording made of him on a train between Edinburgh and Glasgow in the first week of the trial, Jackson, 71, has vehemently denied that the former First Minister is a “sex pest”.

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Sources close to Jackson, the Dean of the Faculty of Advocates, say his remarks as reported in the Sunday Times Scotland have been “taken out of context and misreported”.

One of the legal actions being contemplated by Salmond and his team will be against the Scottish Government and will seek compensation for the damage done to Salmond’s reputation by the botched procedure used to investigate allegations of sexual misconduct against him, plus the leak of information to the Daily Record.

The Scottish Government and the senior civil servant in Scotland, Leslie Evans, were named in the civil case which Salmond won in the Court of Session as the procedure was “tainted by bias”.

Costs were awarded in full to Salmond and are estimated at more than £600,000.

A source close to the case said: “Once you add in the time of the civil servants and Government lawyers, there won’t be much change out of £1 million. And that’s just the civil case – just how much did the Crown Office and Police Scotland spend on the criminal case?

“These questions will all have to be answered eventually, but right now everyone should follow Alex’s lead when he emerged from court last Monday, and concentrate all our efforts on beating coronavirus.”

Jackson is facing an inquiry because on March 10, trial judge Lady Dorrian agreed to a Crown request for an order “at common law and in terms of Section 11 of the Contempt of Court Act 1981, preventing the publication of the names and identity and any information likely to disclose the identity of the complainers in the case of Her Majesty’s Advocate v Alexander Elliot Anderson Salmond.”

In a statement released through the Faculty of Advocates, Gordon Jackson said: “I have decided that the proper course of action is to self-refer this matter to the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission (SLCC), and that has been done. It will be for the Commission to consider this matter.

“To be clear, however, I do not regard Alex Salmond as a ‘sex pest’, and any contrary impression is wrong. I also deeply regret the distress and difficulties which have been caused, but given the reference to the SLCC it would not be appropriate to comment further.”

Roddy Dunlop, QC, Vice-Dean of the Faculty of Advocates, said: “The Faculty takes this matter extremely seriously. It plainly warrants investigation, but as the Dean has self-referred to the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission, it would not be appropriate for the Faculty to comment further.”

The Crown Office yesterday tweeted “a reminder that in the case Her Majesty’s Advocate v Alexander Salmond a court order remains in place preventing the publication of the names and identity, and any information likely to disclose the identity, of the complainers”.

A spokesperson for The Sunday Times Scotland said: “There is no question over the validity of today’s story and we stand by the accurate reporting of the incident.”