PETER Murrell has been accused of “contradictions and discrepancies” in his evidence to the Alex Salmond inquiry and is facing calls to reappear before it.

The SNP chief executive and Nicola Sturgeon’s husband was quizzed on Tuesday by MSPs on the Holyrood committee examining the Scottish Government’s probe into harassment allegations against the former First Minister. He was asked about discussions between Salmond and his wife at their home and, under oath, said he did not know about the claims until they became public. He insisted Sturgeon did not disclose details of the meetings in their home.

Initially, he said he had not been at home for the meetings but during questioning revealed he had returned while one was in progress and got a “sense” it was serious. His wife had said in her written evidence that she suspected Salmond, her former mentor, was set to quit the SNP, so the meetings were about party matters rather than official government business – which should be recorded. Murrell said he was told the meeting was about government issues and Sturgeon did not warn him her predecessor was facing sexual harassment accusations.

Jackie Baillie, Scottish Labour’s deputy leader, asked about a “council of war” WhatsApp chat reportedly set up by the SNP’s chief operating officer after the conceded judicial review in January 2019 that resulted in a £512,250 payout to Salmond.

Murrell repeatedly insisted he did not have WhatsApp and had no knowledge of the group or messages being shared, but an English tabloid has since reported an account linked to his number was “last seen” just weeks ago.

In a letter to the committee after the story’s publication, Murrell said he has WhatsApp on his phone but does not use it: “There are several messaging apps on my phone that I don’t use. This includes profiles on Facebook Messenger, LinkedIn, Instagram, Slack, Skype, and WhatsApp, none of which I use.”

Baillie said Murrell “must explain the contradictions and discrepancies in his evidence to the committee as a matter of urgency”.