Nicola Sturgeon did not try to 'influence' Alex Salmond harassment probe
Permanent Secretary Leslie Evans defended the Scottish Government's handling of harassment complaints against Mr Salmond, insisting that she chose the "right path”.
She she said she was sorry for the "procedural failings" that saw the Government lose a court case to the former First Minister in January 2019 after he launched a judicial review over the way it was handled.
It resulted in taxpayers being forced to foot a £500,000 legal bill run up by Mr Salmond.
The Permanent Secretary was appearing before a Holyrood committee on Tuesday looking into the Scottish Government's handling of complaints made against Mr Salmond two years ago.
It comes after explosive claims by the former first Minister last week that Ms Sturgeon misled Parliament over meetings the pair had about the investigation. Mr Salmond suggested that Ms Sturgeon had told him she would make her "views known" to civil servants about the investigation
Ms Evans said: "I did not inform the First Minister that an investigation was underway. However, I understand that Mr Salmond did so.
"The First Minister did not make any attempt to influence the investigation at any point, nor did she receive a copy of the investigation or decision reports."
Ms Evans said after the Government did not choose the "easy path" following the complaints coming forward.
But she added: "It was – and remains – the right path.
"It was right to create the environment in which these complaints could come forward.
"It was right to challenge any culture of silence and tolerance, to provide channels to report harassment, to ensure that victims feel heard and their concerns validated.
"It was right to take these complaints seriously and to investigate them fairly. It was right to defend our actions in doing so in court. Doing nothing in 2017 was not an option."
The top civil servant said the Government would have been "justifiably criticised" if it had failed to take action.
Ms Evans told MSPs the Scottish Government had reported the internal complaints to the police, despite the women at the centre of the of claims not wishing to do this.