THE SCOTTISH Tories have said they fear the independent probe into whether or not Nicola Sturgeon broke the ministerial code risks being a “whitewash”.

They've called for James Hamilton's remit to be expanded.

However, the Scottish Government say there is already no limit to the scope of the former director of public prosecutions in Ireland.

He was tasked with investigating the First Minister’s actions in January 2019 - after the Scottish Government conceded that its probe into allegations of sexual misconduct made against Alex Salmond were unlawful. 

Hamilton’s inquiry was put on hold after Salmond was charged, but resumed following his acquittal.

Sturgeon triggered the investigation by referring herself after it was claimed she had broken the guidelines 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.

However, Salmond has long complained about the scope of the inquiry, saying it has “a surprising stress” on whether Sturgeon had “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 said last year. 

He has asked Hamilton to expand the remit to cover multiple alleged breaches, the most serious of which is misleading parliament.

Reports on Sunday morning suggested Hamilton has told Salmond “that he was inclined to the view” that these alleged breaches of the code could also be considered.

Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross said: “Given the seriousness of the latest revelations, the Scottish Government must expand the remit of the Ministerial Code inquiry to cover exactly the accusations that Alex Salmond has made against Nicola Sturgeon.

“James Hamilton QC must be able to turn over every rock to uncover the truth. The public deserve all the answers to these serious charges.

“Anything less than fully opening the books would be a whitewash that lets the First Minister off the hook for potentially abusing the power of her office.”

John Swinney told the BBC’s Sunday Politics he was surprised by the complaints from the Tories and Salmond over Hamilton’s remit.

He said he had already made clear in Parliament in November that the investigator could “look at any aspect of a potential breach of the ministerial code.“

“So what is being demanded by Alex Salmond and the Scottish Conservatives was put in place by me in a parliamentary answer in November, so I have absolutely no idea why on earth they’re going on about it today,” he said. 

Details of Salmond submission to Hamilton’s investigation were made public on Friday night. 

He accuses Sturgeon of misleading parliament and failing to inform civil servants of the nature of the meetings that took place between the two of them at her home where the allegations were discussed.

He also claimed she allowed the Scottish government to contest a civil court case against him despite having had legal advice that it was likely to collapse.

After the judgment Sturgeon told parliament that she became aware of the government’s investigation of the allegations against Salmond when he told her at a meeting in her Glasgow home on April 2, 2018.

However, it later emerged that she met Geoff Aberdein, Salmond’s former chief of staff, in her office on March 29, 2018.

In her evidence to the cross-party Holyrood inquiry, Sturgeon said she had forgotten that meeting. 

She said: “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."

However, in his submission to Hamitlon, Salmond says this is "untenable".

He said that the meeting had been arranged after Aberdein was told of two allegations by Sturgeon's chief of staff - before Sturgeon claims to have learned about it.

His submission adds: "The fact that Mr Aberdein learned of these complaints in early March 2018 from the Chief of Staff to the First Minister who thereafter arranged for the meeting between Mr Aberdein and the First Minister on 29th March to discuss them, is supported by his sharing that information contemporaneously with myself, Kevin Pringle and Duncan Hamilton, Advocate.

"In her written submission to the Committee, the First Minister has subsequently admitted to that meeting on 29th March 2018, claiming to have previously ‘forgotten’ about it.

"That is, with respect, untenable."

Asked about Salmond’s submission, Swinney said: “The First Minister has rejected the suggestions and points put forward by Alex Salmond’s evidence. I think the public know the First Minister to be an honest and candid individual who sets out the position as it is.”

The Deputy First Minister said he was “very confident in the points the First Minister will put across” to the inquiries. 

He said Sturgeon “looks forward to the opportunity to set out in detail all of the views and perspectives that she has on this issue to put to rest some of the absolute nonsense that has been circulating about this particular issue.” 

He added: “We've got to remember that we faced a very difficult situation of having to investigate complaints about inappropriate behavior, a lot of which have now been conceded by Alex Salmond in court and that issue had to be addressed. 

“An incredibly difficult situation and the First Minister will set out exactly her perspective when it comes to all of the relevant inquiries on this issue."