THE Holyrood inquiry into the Scottish Government’s botched handling of harassment allegations against Alex Salmond is to hold an emergency meeting today after a High Court ruling paved the way for the former First Minister to make a last-minute appearance in front of MSPs.

The former SNP chief had been due to give his evidence to the committee last Tuesday, but pulled out after they voted to withhold evidence he submitted, over fears it could lead to the complainers in his criminal trial being named.

But yesterday, after a legal challenge by The Spectator magazine, Lady Dorrian amended a contempt of court order which may now mean there’s no impediment to the Parliament publishing evidence submitted by the former SNP leader or his former chief of staff Geoff Aberdein.

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 former SNP leader was cleared on 13 counts of sexual assault.

After the Scottish Government conceded the judicial review, Nicola Sturgeon referred herself to the independent advisers on the Ministerial Code over claims she had broken strict rules when meeting with Salmond about the complaints.

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

In his submission to Hamilton – most of which is already in the public domain after being published by Wings Over Scotland and The Spectator – Salmond made a number of allegations, and said the First Minister had “repeatedly misled” MSPs about meetings between the two at Sturgeon’s home.

The SNP leader has always denied her predecessor’s claims.

In the High Court yesterday, lawyers for The Spectator argued that the order preventing the naming of the complainers was loosely worded and prevented journalists and MSPs from discussing Salmond’s submission.

Ronald Clancy QC, acting for the magazine, argued the order is having a “significant influence” on how the committee is operating.

He said: “There is a reasonable inference that the terms of the order have influenced the committee’s decision on what can and cannot be published.”

Lady Dorrian accepted that the language could be clearer. She said she would add “as such complainers in those proceedings” to the contempt order. She is to set out her written reasons for the change early next week.

Salmond’s legal team wrote to the committee after the ruling offering to resubmit evidence, with the idea Salmond could appear in front of the committee next week.

A Scottish Parliament spokeswoman said: “The committee has agreed to meet tomorrow to discuss the potential impact on the inquiry once Lady Dorrian’s judgment has been properly considered by the Parliament’s legal advisers and those of the former First Minister.

“The committee notes Mr Salmond’s wish that he attend to give evidence.”

Labour’s interim leader Jackie Baillie said the decision meant the committee could publish the testimony.

She said: “It is clear from today’s decision that the publication of the evidence is in the public interest and that it may be used by the committee.”

However, another committee source said today may be too soon to reach any decision on publishing the former First Minister’s submission and that they may need to wait for Lady Dorrian’s written reasons.

Tory MSP Murdo Fraser said: “While we await the full details of the revised order and what implications it will have, I am satisfied that we now have grounds to compel Salmond to attend.”