THE BBC received hundreds of complaints after Nicola Sturgeon made comments about Alex Salmond during a Covid briefing.

According to data released by the broadcaster 244 complaints were received by BBC Scotland after the First Minister responded to questions concerning her predecessor’s written evidence to a Holyrood committee during one of her daily weekday updates on the pandemic.

She normally does not answers questions which do not have a direct bearing on the coronavirus crisis.

However, on February 24, she opted to respond to questions relating to her predecessor’s claims which included allegations the Scottish Government and Crown Office were involved in blocking the release of information in a bid to shield powerful people in the country.

“Have the tools of the state been used to protect your reputation?” the First Minister was asked.

She replied: “Emphatically not and there is not a shred of evidence to suggest that that is the case.”

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She added: “Alex Salmond, well, 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 the 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 at the route of all this might just have been issues in his own behaviour, but that is for him to explain.”

A Holyrood inquiry was set up to establish how the Scottish Government mishandled complaints made by two civil servants against Salmond when he was First Minister.

Salmond raised a civil legal action, winning the judicial review in 2019 after the judge, Lord Pentland, ruled the Scottish Government’s investigation into the complaints was “unlawful”, “procedurally unfair” and “tainted with apparent bias”. He was awarded cost from the public purse of more than £500,000.

Salmond was later charged with sexual offences and was acquitted of all charges following a trial at the High Court in Edinburgh last year.

During the same Covid briefing last week, the First Minister discussed the outcome of his trial. She said:”The behaviour complained of was found by a jury not to constitute criminal conduct and Alex Salmond is innocent of criminality. But that doesn’t mean the behaviour complained of didn’t happen.”

Jim Sillars, the former SNP deputy leader, claimed Sturgeon breached the Ministerial Code by suggesting Salmond was in the wrong despite being cleared and made a complaint to the Permanent Secretary.

Sturgeon denies breaching the Ministerial Code.

During his opening statement to the committee, Salmond criticised Sturgeon for discussing his evidence at the Covid briefing.

The BBC said complainants will receive responses in due course.