ALEX Salmond has called for Nicola Sturgeon to be investigated for lying to parliament, in a significant ramping up of the hostilities between the former First Minister and his successor. 

The call comes in a letter to James Hamilton, the independent adviser on the ministerial code, who is probing whether the SNP leader broke strict rules 

Sturgeon triggered the investigation by referring herself to the panel after it was claimed she had broken the code by failing to swiftly declare the three meetings and two phone calls with Salmond about the harassment complaints.

The Scottish Government’s ministerial code says that when discussing official business “any significant content” should be reported back to private offices.

Hamilton, a former director of public prosecutions in Ireland, has the power to interview any minister or official in the Scottish Government and examine documents related to the meetings and discussions between Sturgeon and Salmond.

The probe had to be paused in early 2019 so as not to risk prejudicing criminal proceedings - and then due to the coronavirus pandemic - but it restarted over the summer.

Sturgeon has previously said she was first made aware of complaints against her predecessor when he told her in a meeting at her home on April 2, 2018.

Though it emerged in court that she was told during a brief meeting with Salmond's former chief of staff Geoff Aberdein on March 29.

In written evidence to the Holyrood committee probing the botched harassment complaints, Sturgeon said Aberdein had been in parliament to see a former colleague, and had come to see the First Minister while he was there.

She said: "I had forgotten that this encounter had taken place until I was reminded of it in, I think, late January/early February 2019.”

It also emerged yesterday that her private secretary held two "secret meetings" with a civil servant who complained about Salmond in November 2017.

In his letter to Hamilton, sent on October 6, Salmond, who is representing himself, questions the remit set for the investigator by deputy first minister, John Swinney, saying it “lays a surprising stress” on whether Sturgeon “interfered in the Scottish Government investigation”.

“It might even be suspected that this remit has been set up as a straw man to knock down,” he adds.

“There is no general bar on ministers intervening in a civil service process of which I am aware and indeed there are occasions when ministers are actually required by the code to intervene to correct civil service behaviour.

“What I wish to know is whether matters which, by contrast, are specified in the ministerial code such as the primary responsibility of not misleading parliament (contrary to 1.3 (c) of the code), such as the failure to act on legal advice suggesting the Government was at risk of behaving unlawful (contrary to 2.30 of the code), and such as the ministerial failure to ensure civil servants gave truthful information to parliament (contrary to 1.3 (e) of the code) will have at least equal status in your deliberations or are you confined to the political remit which you have been set? 

“If your enquiry has been confined by ministers then please tell me if you have the authority to expand that remit unilaterally? 

“If not, will you seek the authority of those in the Scottish Government who set the remit to expand it into these, and other, areas?”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We are aware of the contents of Mr Salmond's letter. The remit of Mr Hamilton's work is well established, and was set out to the Parliament by the Deputy First Minister.”