NICOLA Sturgeon’s husband suggested "it was a good time to be pressuring the police" to pursue Alex Salmond a day after his first court appearance, according to the text of messages which have been allegedly leaked.

It is being reported Peter Murrell, chief executive of the SNP, purportedly sent the message to a senior party official after the ex-First Minister's initial criminal hearing.

It is also claimed, in another message to the same person, Murrell said he wanted London’s Metropolitan force to start a second inquiry into his wife’s predecessor.

The alleged text messages, obtained by the Scottish Sun newspaper, said: “The more fronts he is having to firefight on the better for all complainers.”

The communications were said to have been passed anonymously this month to the SNP MP Kenny MacAskill.

The former justice secretary has said he’d notified Salmond of the information.

He also said he’d passed the document to a Holyrood committee probing the botched Scottish Government inquiry into the former First Minister in 2018.

The Government’s action was deemed unlawful and “tainted by apparent bias” after a civil case brought by Salmond.

The former First Minister was cleared of 13 charges of sexual assault in a separate criminal trial in March this year.

It is claimed Murrell sent the alleged messages on January 25, 2019 — the day after Salmond’s first appearance at Edinburgh Sheriff Court.

It is claimed the first reads: “Totally agree folk should be asking the police questions.

“Report now with the PF on charges which leaves police twiddling their thumbs.

“So good time to be pressurising them. Would be good to know Met looking at events in London.”

The second alleged message, sent 80 minutes later, says: “TBH the more fronts he is having to firefight on the better for all complainers. So CPS action would be a good thing.”

The Scottish Sun was today reporting that Salmond’s legal team was aware of the messages before his criminal trial started in March.

Sources told the paper they formed part of a bundle of communications the former First Minister wanted to lead as evidence. But he was barred from doing so by the High Court in Edinburgh.

The reference to the Metropolitan Police is believed to be linked to a complaint about Salmond during his time as an MP. Last month it emerged the inquiry had ended.

At the time, a spokesman said: “In January 2019 the Metropolitan Police was passed information linked to an ongoing investigation in Scotland.

“Specialist officers launched a review of the information to ascertain if any criminal offences had been committed within the Metropolitan Police District.

“In consultation with the Crown Prosecution Service, no further action was taken.

“In March 2020, a  review of the information was carried out and one allegation of crime was recorded.

“The complainant was contacted by officers. Following this contact, the investigation was not proceeded with and no further action was taken.”

Last night it emerged that police have launched an inquiry into the alleged leaking of messages related to the Salmond trial.

The Crown Office has instructed officers to investigate how messages appearing to show Murrell backing police action against the former First Minister were made public.

A Police Scotland spokesman told The Courier: “The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service has instructed us to investigate the potential unlawful disclosure of material. Enquiries are at an early stage.”

The SNP have been contacted for comment. 

Murdo Fraser, the Scottish Tory spokesman on the Holyrood inquiry into the Scottish Government's handling of the complaints made against Salmond, said: “Scottish people will be disgusted by the staggering information coming from SNP ranks about what happened here.

“I would expect Scottish Government ministers, particularly the justice secretary, to make it clear that no-one asked them to intervene in this case on any side or at any time. If political pressure was applied to the police in any sense, the public must hear it."