SCOTTISH ministers have reacted furiously after Ruth Davidson described Nicola Sturgeon as the “head girl” of the “Old Boy’s Club” surrounding Alex Salmond.

Appearing on Sky News late last night, the Scottish Tory Holyrood group leader referred to the phrase used by the First Minister during FMQs this week.

Sturgeon used the words to describe Salmond and David Davis, saying the Tory MP has used his position in the Commons to spread “conspiracy theories” about her government.

READ MORE: FMQs: Nicola Sturgeon blasts Davis and Salmond as ‘old boys’ club’ cronies

A Holyrood committee is investigating the Scottish Government’s mishandling of sexual misconduct complaints against Salmond when he was First Minister.

Salmond pursued a judicial review, and the court rules the Scottish Government’s investigation was unlawful and tainted by apparent bias. The former SNP leader was awarded more than £500,000 in legal costs. He was later cleared of all charges at the High Court.

The National:

The former First Minister believes Sturgeon’s allies were involved in attempts to remove him from public life and even have him sent to jail, while she has accused him of “inhabiting an alternative reality” and pursuing false conspiracy claims.

At Westminster, Davis used parliamentary privilege to put into the public domain messages that Salmond told the committee show a plot against him.

This week leaks of the report into the Scottish Government’s handling of the complaints emerged. It apparently concludes that the First Minister gave an “inaccurate” account of meeting with her predecessor during the investigation, which would amount to misleading parliament.

READ MORE: Patrick Harvie says Salmond inquiry 'destroyed credibility of report' with leak

The ministerial code says ministers who knowingly mislead parliament should resign – but according to reports, the committee has not included the word “knowingly” in its report.

On Sky last night, Davidson attacked Sturgeon over the recent developments. “I think for somebody that was [Alex Salmond’s] deputy for 10 years, that encouraged people to vote for him, that told people and I quote – ‘Alex Salmond doesn’t have a misogynistic bone in his body, he’s the least sexist man I know’, I think Nicola Sturgeon’s probably the head girl of the Old Boys’ Club that surrounds Alex Salmond.

“If she had properly dealt with their behaviour maybe she wouldn’t be in this mess.”

Online, ministers promptly reacted. Roseanna Cunningham, Scotland’s Environment Secretary, wrote: “Make the women responsible for men’s behaviour. Dear God, this is vile.”

Christina McKelvie, the Equalities Minister, agreed. “Good god a woman is responsible for the bad behaviour of men?

“What an utter disgrace the Baroness is, but then again she does support the rape clause so maybe I should not be surprised by this vile disinformation."

The SNP have been contacted for comment.

A spokesperson for the Scottish Tories told The National: "The sleaze-infested SNP are in crisis while Nicola Sturgeon and her panic-stricken loyalists are becoming increasingly erratic.

"If Sturgeon has a shred of integrity she will resign for misleading parliament instead of debasing herself further with desperate and ludicrous attacks on others."

The comments come after Tory MSP Murdo Fraser was criticised for demanding Sturgeon apologise to the people of Scotland for asking them to trust Salmond.

READ MORE: Fury over 'sexist' request to Nicola Sturgeon to apologise for Alex Salmond

During the First Minister’s eight-hour evidence session to the committee, Fraser asked her if she “owed an apology” to Scotland.

Fraser’s line of questioning was branded “deeply sexist” by the director of feminist group Engender.