ALEX Salmond criticised Nicola Sturgeon for using the Scottish Government's coronavirus briefing to attack him.

The former First Minister made the comments during his opening statement to the Holyrood probe today. 

He said: "I watched in astonishment on Wednesday when the First Minister of Scotland - the First Minister of Scotland - used a Covid press conference to effectively question the results of a jury."

Sturgeon criticised Salmond and claimed he was peddling conspiracy theories at the briefing, despite repeatedly and previously saying the sessions should only be for information to be delivered about the pandemic.

She said: “Alex Salmond, well, you know, maybe creating an alternative reality in which the organs of the state, not just me and the SNP and the civil service and the Crown Office and the police and women who came forward, were all part of some wild conspiracy against him for reasons I can’t explain, maybe that’s easier than just accepting that at the root of all this might just have been issues in his own behaviour.”

During his opening statement to the botched Scottish Government probe investigating complaints against him, he said the failures of leadership surrounding the investigation into his conduct are "many and obvious".

The former First Minister told the committee: "This inquiry is not about me, I have already established the illegality of the actions of the Scottish Government in the Court of Session, and I have been acquitted of all criminal charges by a jury in the highest court in the land.

"These are both the highest courts in the land, the highest criminal court and the highest civil court.

"The remit of this inquiry is about the actions of others, whose investigation into the conduct of ministers, the Permanent Secretary, civil servants and special advisers.

"It also requires to shine a light on the activities of the Crown Office."

He went on to claim that the committee in its inquiry has been "systematically deprived of the evidence it has legitimately sought".

Salmond rejected calls from his successor that he should provide evidence to back up his claims of a conspiracy.

He stressed it was the Scottish Government which had been "found to have acted unlawfully, unfairly and tainted by apparent bias" by the Court of Session.

He said: "I note that the First Minister asserts I have to prove a case, I don't. That has already been done. There have been two court cases, two judges, one jury.

"In this inquiry it is the Scottish Government, a Government which has already admitted to behaving unlawfully, who are under examination."

Salmond, who was later acquitted of 13 charges of sexual assault in a criminal trial, was awarded a £512,250 payout after he successfully challenged the lawfulness of the Government investigation into harassment claims made against him.