NICOLA Sturgeon will face a vote of no confidence after the Tories accused her of  “lying to the Scottish Parliament" and breaking the ministerial code on "numerous counts.”

The call from Douglas Ross comes after another dramatic day in Holyrood.

Firstly, the government's legal advice on the court battle with Alex Salmond was published, showing that ministers were warned that it was a risky fight, months before they conceded.

Secondly, two senior SNP figures have disputed the First Minister's account of a key meeting between her and her predecessor. One of the witnesesses even says Sturgeon offered to intervene in the government's probe - something she has long rejected. 

READ MORE: Senior SNP figures dispute Nicola Sturgeon claims over meetings with Alex Salmond

It all comes before Sturgeon appears before the harassment inquiry on Wednesday morning. 

A spokesman for the First Minister said it was "irresponsible" for the Tories to table a vote on no confidence before they'd even heard the SNP leader's evidence. 

He said she would "address all of the issues raised – and much more besides" at the committee.

On Tuesday evening, the government published a tranche of correspondence between the civil service and lawyers. 

The Scottish Government conceded their case against Salmond in January 2019.

The probe into allegations of harassment against the former First Minister was rendered unlawful after they appointed senior civil servant Judith MacKinnon as the investigating officer.

She had previously had substantial contact with the two accusers.

Paragraph ten of the Scottish Government’s complaints handling procedure says the investigating officer “will have had no prior involvement with any aspect of the matter being raised”.

The papers published by the government on Tuesday revealed that senior counsel Roddy Dunlop told the government on October 31 that “this presents a very real problem indeed.”

A key plank of Salmond’s case against the government was that the procedure was unfair. 

In his opinion, Dunlop said the “procedure was not followed, rather an expressed embargo was ignored in a way which may well vitiate the entire proceedings.”

He added: ”It would be wrong for me to suggest this revelation is anything other than an extremely concerning one.

“I should stress, of course that I'm not suggesting bad faith on the part of anyone, least of all Ms MacKinnon, but the fact remains that the procedure indicates to my mind at least that she was not eligible to be appointed as IO.”

He, for the first time, raised the possibility that this could mean conceding the case, saying it would make “little sense to continue to defend the indefensible”.

By December 6, they warned that pressing on regardless, would be “in many ways, even less attractive” than conceding. 

They told ministers. “Ultimately, our own view is that the 'least worst' option would be to concede the Petition. We understand how unpalatable that advice will be, and we do not tender it lightly.

"But we cannot let the respondents sail forth into January’s hearing without the now very real risks of doing so being crystal clear to all concerned.”

Both Dunlop and junior counsel, Christine O'Neill QC, later threatned to resign unless the government conceded. 

The government said that the advice did show that ministers were listening to the Lord Advocate. 

NICOLA Sturgeon faces difficult questions at the Holyrood harassment inquiry today after two senior SNP figures questioned her account of meetings with Alex Salmond. 

Former party strategist Kevin Pringle, and advocate Duncan Hamilton - a former MSP - have told the committee that the First Minister knew she was meeting Salmond in her house on April 2 to discuss the complaints against him.

She has previously said that the first she knew of the allegations and the investigation was when he told her at that meeting.

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

Sturgeon has since said that she had forgotten that meeting, that it was opportunistic and casual and that it “never held any significance” in her head.

Salmond had said this is untenable and that the meeting was formal, and explicitly set up to talk about the investigation.

Last Friday, he told the committee this could be backed up by Aberdein, Pringle and Hamilton. MSPs then wrote to the men asking for their recollections.

In his submission, Pringle writes: “Based on my contact with Mr Aberdein, I know he was clear that the purpose of the meeting on 29 March 2018 was to discuss the two complaints that had been made against Mr Salmond.”

Hamilton also confirmed this in his letter.

He said: "I spoke to Geoff Aberdein on 29 March 2018 after his meeting in the Scottish Parliament. At that time, he intimated that a further meeting would be arranged to discuss the complaints with the First Minister.

"That meeting was arranged for 2 April 2018. I was invited to that meeting and travelled to it along with Mr Salmond and Mr Aberdein. 

"I would further note that the letter received from the Scottish Government was the sole focus of the meeting.

"Further, when we arrived, everyone in the room knew exactly why we were there. No introduction to the subject was needed and no one was in any doubt what we were there to discuss."

Hamilton also said the First Minister offered to intervene in the government’s investigation, something she has denied repeatedly.

He said: “I can confirm that the First Minister    did offer to assist. We discussed mediation. My clear recollection is that her words were, ‘if it comes to it, I will intervene.”

He said he discussed the comment to intervene with Salmond and Aberdein after the meeting, as it was the most legally significant moment of the night.

Hamilton also backed up Salmond's claim that the identity of one of the female civil servants who accusing the ex-SNP leader of harassment was shared with Aberdein by a government official. 

Last Thursday Sturgeon told MSPs: “To the very best of my knowledge, I do not think that that happened.”

Hamilton said: "I can also confirm that I was told the name of a complainant by Mr Aberdein (Mr Salmond’s former Chief of Staff) in the early part of March 2018.

"I cannot recall the precise date, but it was very shortly after the 7th March 2018, the date Mr Salmond received his letter.

"The name of the complainant had been given to Mr Aberdein by a senior government official."

This was supported by Pringle.

Douglas Ross said there was nothing Sturgeon could say at the committee hearing that would "counter the claims of numerous witnesses".

He said: “Credible witnesses have now backed up Alex Salmond’s claims and the legal advice shows the government knew months in advance that the judicial review was doomed but they still went on to waste more than £500,000 of taxpayers’ money.

“There is no longer any doubt that Nicola Sturgeon lied to the Scottish Parliament and broke the Ministerial Code on numerous counts.

“No First Minister can be allowed to mislead the Scottish people and continue in office, especially when they have tried to cover up the truth and abused the power of their office in the process.

“The weight of the evidence is overwhelming. Nicola Sturgeon must resign.

“No evidence she can provide tomorrow will counter the claims of numerous witnesses or refute that her government ignored the legal advice for months and lost more than £500,000 of taxpayers’ money in the process.

“We will be submitting a Vote of No Confidence in the First Minister.

Labour MSP Jackie Baillie said: “The legal advice plainly states that while the Scottish Government had grounds to view aspects of its case as ‘defensible’, serious questions remained around procedural unfairness from the very beginning.

“The advice states plainly that there was a ‘real risk’ that the Court would be persuaded by the challenge on ‘procedural unfairness’.

“Despite this warning, the Scottish Government persisted at the cost of over half a million pounds of taxpayers’ money and to the detriment of the women involved.

She added: “The Scottish Government’s unlawful handling of harassment complaints appears to be indefensible, and I look forward to having the opportunity to question the First Minister on the failings of her government.”

A spokesperson for the First Minister said:“The First Minister will address all of the issues raised – and much more besides – at the committee tomorrow, while the independent adviser on the ministerial code will report in due course.

“But to call a vote of no confidence in the middle of a pandemic, before hearing a single word of the First Minister’s evidence, is utterly irresponsible.

“It is for the public to decide who they want to govern Scotland and – while we continue to fight the covid pandemic – with the election campaign starting in just 20 days, that is precisely what they will be able to do.”