THE BBC received a barrage of complaints over an inaccurate report on its main evening network news programme that Alex Salmond wanted Nicola Sturgeon to resign.

Sarah Smith, the broadcaster’s Scotland editor, made the incorrect statement to viewers across the UK who had tuned in to watch the Six O’Clock News on February 26, the day the former First Minister appeared at the Holyrood inquiry into the Scottish Government’s mishandling of complaints against him.

Appearing on camera, the journalist, filmed outside the Scottish Parliament, said: “He [Salmond] believes Nicola Sturgeon has misled Parliament and broken the Ministerial Code which he thinks means she should resign.”

However, the former First Minister did not call for his successor to go and said it was not a decision for him.

Data now released by the BBC stated that a total of 348 complaints were made to BBC One up until February 28 about Smith’s report on the grounds of inaccuracy.

The Holyrood committee is seeking to establish what went wrong in the Scottish Government’s handling of complaints made by two civil servants against Salmond.

The former First Minister launched his judicial review in August 2018 after the Scottish Government completed its probe into him, after the complaints were filed in January of that year.

READ MORE: BBC's Scotland editor apologises after saying Alex Salmond wants FM to resign

Salmond won his civil case against the Scottish Government in January 2019, with the Court of Session ruling it had been unlawful and “tainted by apparent bias” and received more than £500,000 in legal costs.

He was later charged with sexual offences and was acquitted on all counts at a High Court trial last year.

A Holyrood inquiry is investigating the mistakes in the Government’s probe.

The committee’s inquiry states its remit is: “To consider and report on the actions of the First Minister, Scottish Government officials and special advisers in dealing with complaints about Alex Salmond, former First Minister, considered under the Scottish Government’s handling of harassment complaints involving current or former ministers and procedure and actions in relation to the Scottish Ministerial Code.”

A separate inquiry into whether the First Minister breached the Ministerial Code is being conducted by James Hamilton QC, the former director of public prosecutions in the Irish Republic.

When asked at the committee on February 26 by Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser if Sturgeon should resign if she is found to have broken the Ministerial Code, Salmond said: “Not for me. I believe the First Minister has broken the Ministerial Code but it is a finding that can be discussed, at least by this committee, by Mr James Hamilton.

“It’s not the case that every minister who breaks the Ministerial Code resigns, your party [the Tories] had an example of that very recently, it depends what is found.”

Sturgeon denies breaching the code, and has accused Salmond of creating “wild” conspiracy theories that are untrue.

After a storm of protest on social media, Smith, the eldest daughter of the late Labour leader John Smith, corrected her remarks later that evening. She tweeted: “On the Six O’Clock News headline tonight, I said that Alex

Salmond had claimed the First Minister had ‘broken the Ministerial Code and that he thinks she should resign’.

“I would like to clarify that Mr Salmond did not say the First Minister should resign. He said ‘I’ve got no doubt that Nicola has broken the Ministerial Code but it’s not for me to suggest what the consequences should be’.”

It was the latest controversy to surround Smith’s reporting. In May last year she said the First Minister “enjoyed” taking a different route out of lockdown to the other UK nations. Sturgeon was among those to object on Twitter. She wrote: “Never in my entire political career have I ‘enjoyed’ anything less than this. My heart breaks every day for all those who have lost loved ones to this virus.”

Smith corrected her report, writing on Twitter: “I do not believe that Nicola Sturgeon is enjoying this crisis. I had meant to say on the Ten O’Clock news that she has ‘embraced’ the opportunity to make a policy unique to Scotland.

“I said ‘enjoyed’ by mistake. Not suggesting she is enjoying the crisis but embracing devolution.”

A BBC spokesman said complainants will receive responses in due course.