ALEX Salmond is set to appear before MSPs at the Holyrood harassment inquiry on Wednesday.

According to reports, the former first minister has accepted the committee’s invitation after the Scottish Parliamentary corporate body (SPCB) said that “on balance” it was “possible to publish” his dossier accusing Nicola Sturgeon of breaking the ministerial code.

That effectively overruled the Holyrood probe where the majority of MSPs had twice voted against sharing the document.

Parliament’s lawyers had warned them that making the submission public could breach a contempt of court order preventing the naming of the women in Salmond's criminal trial.

That sparked a legal battle in the High Court last week, with Lady Dorrian agreeing to tweak the wording of the order. 

Her change then prompted MSPs on the committee to pass the final decision to the SPCB.

Salmond has tied his appearance in front of the committee to the document being made public.

It's his submission to a separate inquiry looking at whether or not Sturgeon broke the ministerial code. 

If it's not published by the committee then, effectively, it can't be considered in their final report, and can't be spoken about in any session. 

Much of it is already in the public domain. In it, Salmond claims the First Minister has repeatedly broken the ministerial code and had misled MSPs about meetings between the two at Sturgeon’s home.

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

Meanwhile, Holyrood’s Presiding Officer has insisted the identities of the women involved in Salmond’s criminal trial will be protected. 

On Thursday night Rape Crisis Scotland wrote to Ken Macintosh seeking “urgent reassurances” that Holyrood wouldn’t do anything that could lead their identification. 

The charity said MSPs could be “directly responsible” for putting women’s safety at risk.

Sandy Brindley, the chief executive of Rape Crisis Scotland, said the organisation was “extremely concerned” that the SPCB’s decision had been taken “without the legal basis to do so.” 

She said Lady Dorrian's tweaked order made no real significant difference to the legal reality. 

Brindley added: “I cannot stress how important it is that the Parliament fulfils its obligations in respect of not identifying – either directly or in combination with other documents in the public domain – complainers from the criminal trial.”

The cross-party harassment 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 cleared on 13 counts of sexual assault.

In her letter to Macintosh, Brindley said the complainers in the case had suffered abuse online.

She said: “They have been hounded, identified online and had threats made against them. I am clear that if the Parliament publishes anything which could lead to the identification of any of the complainers you will be directly responsible for putting their safety at risk.

“There has been a widespread misinterpretation of the verdict of the criminal trial as meaning that the women made up their allegations. This is inaccurate and dangerous. In reality what the not guilty and not proven verdicts meant – as is the case in all criminal trials – is that the jury did not consider that the Crown had proven the case beyond reasonable doubt.”

Brindley said Holyrood’s handling of the case was sending a “clear message” to women “about how they might be treated should they ever consider making a report of sexual harassment, particularly if this report is against someone in a position of power or influence.”

Responding to Brindley, Macintosh said: “As has been made repeatedly clear by the [Scottish Government Handling of Harassment Complaints] Committee itself, protecting the identity of the complainers in this case as in any such case, is of vital importance to the Parliament. Furthermore, I can assure you that SPCB entirely supports the role of the Court in putting in place Orders to provide such protection. 

“The Parliament will of course comply with the terms of these Orders when conducting its scrutiny role. I am further assured that the SGHHC Committee will continue to focus on safeguards to ensure that it operates within the terms of its evidence handling statement as it carries out the important function given to it by Parliament.”