ALEX Salmond will not attend the Holyrood inquiry into the Scottish Government’s botched probe into harassment complaints against him. 

The former First Minister’s decision comes after the committee refused to publish his allegations that Nicola Sturgeon misled parliament. 

The ex-SNP chief was due in front of the inquiry on Tuesday. His lawyer said he could still appear before the committee but only if MSPs “set out the totality of the restrictions” upon his evidence. 

Much, if not all of the document, submitted to James Hamilton’s investigation into whether or not Nicola Sturgeon broke the ministerial code, is already in the public domain.

But the committee decided against publishing the submission as it failed to “comply with relevant court orders as well as its obligations under GDPR and ECHR."

It’s understood those elements of the submission could not be redacted by the committee as this could be easily cross referred with versions published online to show exactly what the redacted wordings were.

But Salmond's team said that the decision meant it couldn't "even be considered for inclusion in the Committee’s report." 

The cross-party committee is investigating the Scottish Government’s flawed probe into allegations of misconduct made against Salmond by two civil servants.

He had the exercise set aside in January 2019, with a judicial review declaring it “unlawful” and “tainted by bias”. The Government’s botched handling ultimately cost the taxpayer half a million pounds.

At a later criminal case the ex-SNP leader was found not guilty on 12 charges.

A Scottish Parliament spokesperson said Salmond would not have been prevented from referring to the detail in the majority of the document.

They said: “Mr Salmond has not confirmed that he will attend the Committee meeting on Tuesday and he has raised a number of issues for clarification. Tuesday’s evidence session will therefore not go ahead.

“Mr Salmond had been contacted to make it clear that he can speak freely in Committee about all of his contact with Nicola Sturgeon and his views on her actions. 

“He was given the opportunity to make a lengthy opening statement on Tuesday and would have had four hours to answer questions in public. He was also invited to send more written evidence for publication after the meeting.

“The Committee has already published two lengthy submissions from Mr Salmond and many, many pages of records and documents from him that he has been invited to speak freely about in Parliament on Tuesday. All of this written and oral evidence could then be reflected in the Committee’s report. 

“The Committee continues to communicate with Mr Salmond’s representatives.”

Following the Scottish Government concession in the courts, Sturgeon referred herself to the independent advisers on the Ministerial Code, 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.

Scottish Government rules say that when discussing official business “any significant content” should be reported back to private offices.

James Hamilton, a former director of public prosecutions in Ireland, was tasked with investigating the First Minister’s actions.

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. 

In his submission to Hamilton Salmond said this was "untenable".

Salmond also claimed Holyrood had been "repeatedly misled" about the nature of a meeting between the two at Sturgeon's home.

He also claims Sturgeon had offered to intervene in the Government's complaints process, which the First Minister has repeatedly denied. 

Salmond also says Sturgeon allowed the Scottish Government to contest a civil court case against him despite having had legal advice that it was likely to collapse.

In a letter to committee convenor Linda Fabiani, Salmond’s lawyer called the decision not to publish his submission to Hamilton's inquiry “absurd”.

He said his client was still “willing to give evidence to the committee at any point up to the final date for evidence” but needed clarity over what the legal restrictions in place were. 

David McKie from Levy & McRae told the MSP: “Our client is still in the dark about the parameters of his evidence and what assurances and protections you can provide to him to enable him help you to fulfil your remit, while being truthful and transparent. 

“Asking a witness to accept the constraints of speaking only to evidence selected by you on the undisclosed advice and direction of unidentified others is not acceptable in any forum and is, in our client’s view, particularly offensive when the remit he seeks to address has been set for you by Parliament and addresses the unlawful actions of an elected Government and the needless squandering of hundreds of thousands of pounds of public money.”

McKie told the committee they need to set out in writing, “together with the legal basis for that stance” the issues Salmond can talk about. 

“In the absence of such clarity, we are no further forward in advising our client. Not only does clarity require to be given in relation to oral evidence, but it also necessarily informs the content of his written submission. 

“It is at present entirely unclear to us what he is able to submit and what you view as unacceptable.”

He added: “There is the obvious question of what legal advice could possibly justify the absurd position of our client being told he can essentially read out or repeat ‘elements’ of a submission but that the same elements (freely available to all online at ‘The Spectator’) cannot be published.”

McKie urged the committee to “set out the totality of the restrictions” upon Salmond. He said his client needed to know “potential legal implications of giving evidence.” 

The lawyer added: “For example, which chapters of evidence are restricted or excluded, what reference can be made to the existence and content of documents which are known to exist but which the Committee has not recovered, which individuals or meetings is our client prevented from referencing? Which other prohibitions are in place? 

“The committee, on its own unpublished legal advice has attached a series of restrictions on evidence without offering either a comprehensive list of such restrictions or any legal advice which supports them. The effect is that we, as legal advisers, are left in the dark and are severely hampered in any advice that we can give.” 

McKie continued: “We note, for example, that the evidence of Geoff Aberdein has been withdrawn in its entirety and will form no part of the Committee’s deliberations. We do not know why or which parts of that evidence have led to that decision. 

“We do not understand why the entirety of that submission had to be withdrawn. We understand the same will apply to at least one and probably more of the submissions made by our client. 

“Further, we understand that limited or possibly no evidence is to be allowed in relation to specific meetings in March and April 2018, many of which are in the public domain and have been since January 2019. Moreover, the evidence given by the First Minister will similarly be restricted, a remarkable position which fundamentally undermines the value of the committee investigation.“