Nicola Sturgeon described the content of text messages she sent and received from Alex Salmond in an annex to her full written submission.

In the document, published today by the Scottish Parliament, she summarises their background of meetings with the former First Minister and contents of their conversations. She added she would be happy to expand on any aspect of the evidence in oral session to the committee's inquiry. 

She says: "Alex Salmond told me on 2 April 2018 at a meeting at my home that complaints against him were being investigated under the Procedure.

"At that meeting, he showed me a copy of the letter he had received outlining the detail of the complaints.

"As has been reported already, four days earlier - 29 March 2018 - I had spoken with Geoff Aberdein (former Chief of Staff to Alex Salmond) in my office at the Scottish Parliament.

"Mr Aberdein was in Parliament to see a former colleague and while there came to see me. I had forgotten that this encounter had taken place until I was reminded of it in, I think, late January/early February 2019.

"For context, I think the meeting took place not long after the weekly session of FMQs and in the midst of a busy day in which I would have been dealing with a multitude of other matters.

"However, from what I recall, the discussion covered the fact that Alex Salmond wanted to see me urgently about a serious matter, and I think it did cover the suggestion that the matter might relate to allegations of a sexual nature.

"Around this time, I had been made aware separately of a request from Mr Aberdein for me to meet with Alex Salmond. The impression I had at this time was that Mr Salmond was in a state of considerable distress, and that he may be considering resigning his party membership.

"However, while I suspected the nature of what he wanted to tell me - for reasons set out below - it was Alex Salmond who told me on the 2 April that he was being investigated under the Procedure - and what the detail of the complaints was. It is this meeting - due to the nature of the information shared with me at it - that has always been significant in my mind.

"As stated above, I suspected the reason Alex Salmond wanted to see me on April 2 was that he was facing an allegation of sexual misconduct. Although my contact with Mr Aberdein on 29 March 2018 may have contributed to that suspicion, it was not the only factor.

"For example, in early November 2017, the SNP received a enquiry from Sky News about allegations of sexual misconduct on the part of Alex Salmond. I spoke to Mr Salmond about this allegation at the time. He denied it and, as it happened, Sky did not run a story about it at that time.

"Since the identity of the individuals was not made known to us and they did not approach the SNP directly, there was no further action that it would have been possible to take.

"However, even though he assured me to the contrary, all of the circumstances surrounding this episode left me with a lingering concern that allegations about Mr Salmond could materialise at some stage. It is reasonable to ask why, if I suspected the nature of what he wanted to speak to me about on 2 April, I nevertheless agreed to the meeting.

"The answer is both political and personal. I thought Mr Salmond may be about to resign from the SNP and that, as a result of this or other aspects of how he intended to handle the matter he was dealing with, the party could have been facing a public/media issue that we would require to respond to.

"As Party Leader, I considered it important that I knew if this was in fact the case in order that I could prepare the party to deal with what would have been a significant issue.

"There is also the personal aspect. Mr Salmond has been closer to me than probably any other person outside my family for the past 30 years, and I was being told he was very upset and wanted to see me personally.

"To return to the meeting on 2 April 2018, although others were present, Mr Salmond initially asked to see me privately. He advised me that he was being investigated under the Procedure and showed me a copy of the letter he had received.

"Notwithstanding the suspicions I had harboured going into this meeting, I was shocked and upset by the reality of what I read. He gave me his reaction to the complaints - in the main he denied them, though in relation to one matter he said that he had previously apologised and considered it out of order for it to be raised again - and said that it was his intention to seek a process of mediation between himself and the complainers.

"It was also clear - contrary to what I had anticipated - that he did not intend to resign his party membership or do anything to make the matter public at that stage. I made clear to him that I had no role in the process and would not seek to intervene in it. I took no action as a result of this meeting.

"Mr Salmond sent me a message on 22 April 2018 asking to speak to me by phone. As previously advised to Parliament, I spoke to him by phone on 23 April (the substantive call took place early evening after a call in the morning had to be aborted due to poor signal).

"He asked me if I would make the Permanent Secretary aware that I knew about the investigation and encourage her to accept his request for mediation. I said that I was not willing to do so.

"A special adviser was in the room with me during this call, though not on the line. Mr Salmond sent me a message on 31 May 2018 asking to meet. I did not agree to a meeting at that time.

"Mr Salmond sent me a further message on 3 June 2018. Both the tone and content of this message led me to conclude that legal action by Mr Salmond against the Scottish Government was a serious prospect.

"I decided that I should make the Permanent Secretary aware of this, and I wrote to her on 6 June 2018. At this juncture, it may be helpful to briefly set out for the Committee why I had not previously informed the Permanent Secretary of my contact with Alex Salmond or my knowledge of the investigation.

"The relevant sections of the Ministerial Code (4.22 and 4.23) seek to guard against undisclosed outside influence on decisions that Ministers are involved in. It seemed to me that this was the opposite situation.

"This was a decision I was excluded from and it seemed to me that the risk of inadvertently and unintentionally influencing it would arise if those undertaking the investigation were aware of my knowledge of it. The risk - even if theoretical and subconscious - would be that considerations of what I might think would influence the decisions taken.

"Further, according to my reading of these sections of the Code, my contact with Alex Salmond - once notified - would have had to be made public. This could have compromised the confidentiality of the process.

"My judgment, therefore, was that the best way to protect the process was not to make my knowledge of it known. This judgment changed when I had reason to believe that legal action against the government was being considered.

"Having decided to write to the Permanent Secretary, I agreed to meet Mr Salmond and sent him a message to this effect on 5 June 2018. The references in this message to ‘what I need to do’ and ‘update’ refer to my decision to write to the Permanent Secretary.

"I intended to make him aware that I had done so and, in so doing, make clear again that I would not intervene in the process. My letter to the Permanent Secretary advises her that I intended to do this.

"As advised to Parliament, this meeting took place in Aberdeen on 7 June 2018. No one else was present at this meeting. My other reason for wanting to meet with him proactively at this stage was the SNP conference that was about to take place over the following days in Aberdeen.

"I assumed he would be there (though as it turned out, I don’t think he did attend) and I didn’t want to be ‘cornered’ by him during it. Mr Salmond sent me a further message on 5 July 2018. I did not respond in any way to this message.

"The next contact between Mr Salmond and I was on 13 July 2018, which led to our third and final meeting being arranged for 14 July at my home. By this time, I was again anxious - as Party Leader and from the perspective of preparing my party for any potential public issue - to know whether his handling of the matter meant it was likely to become public in the near future.

"It was clear at the meeting that he was still seeking a process of arbitration around his concerns about the procedure. He had formed a belief that it was me who was blocking arbitration. I told him that was not the case and I was not involved in the decision.

"I also suggested to him that given their seriousness, he should engage on the substance of the complaints and not just focus on procedure. Mr Salmond sent me further messages on 15 and 16 July 2018.

"The message of 15 July is Mr Salmond’s interpretation of me saying that I was not involved in the decision. On 16 July, I made the Permanent Secretary aware of the meeting on 14 July 2018 and the subsequent messages. I also made her aware of Mr Salmond’s belief that I was blocking arbitration.

"Given the risk of legal action, I did not want any suggestion that an opinion attributed to me (which I hadn’t expressed) was influencing decisions I had no part in. I reiterated to her that she must reach whatever decisions she considered appropriate and I did not seek to influence her in any way.

"As advised to Parliament, I also spoke to Mr Salmond on the phone on 18 July 2018. I wanted to draw a line under our contact. I was also about to take a two day summer break and did not want him trying to contact me during it. I have not spoken to Mr Salmond since.

"However, later on 18 July, he sent me a copy of a letter he had received from the Scottish Government. I did not respond to this message. He sent me a further message on 20 July 2018. Again, I did not respond. I have had no contact with Mr Salmond since."