A new account of a meeting attended by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon claims she may have misled Parliament about when she first knew of the allegations against her predecessor, Alex Salmond.
In 2018, two female civil servants made formal complaints against Mr Salmond, accusing the former First Minister of historical sexual misconduct while in office.
Mr Salmond strenuously denied the claims against him.
Ms Sturgeon told Parliament that she was first made aware of the allegations against her predecessor on April 2, 2018, when he told her about them.
But, according to reporting by Sky News, a previously unseen account of a meeting attended by the First Minister suggests that she was involved in a “discussion about the investigation” four days earlier - on March 29, 2018.
The meeting took place at Ms Sturgeon’s office in Holyrood, and was attended by her, a government official, and Mr Salmond’s former chief of staff, Geoff Aberdein.
The meeting was disclosed during Mr Salmond’s recent criminal trial - where he was acquitted of 13 charges of sexual assault - but details of what was discussed were not.
The previously unseen account of the meeting, which Sky News has accessed, says: "The conversation was around the fact of the complaints, without discussing the specifics of them.
"There was discussion about the investigation, the process of it, the fact it was a civil service investigation being conducted by civil servants."
Liberal Democrat for Edinburgh West, Christine Jardine MP, told Sky News: "What we have now are concerns about inconsistencies in what we've been told, and what we need is to know whether the first minister deliberately, or by mistake, misled parliament.
"These are all SNP people discussing something that had, and still has, the potential to seriously damage the SNP.
"What were they talking about? What was the purpose of it? Has the first minister given full disclosure? If not, that's a serious matter."
A Scottish government spokesperson told Sky News that Ms Sturgeon accepts that the March 29 meeting took place, but refutes the claim that it involved discussion of the Scottish government's Salmond inquiry.
"The first minister stands by her statement to parliament,” the spokesperson added.
A cross-party committee of MSPs investigating the Scottish government’s failed 2018 inquiry into allegations against Mr Salmond will start hearing evidence later in the year.
The Scottish government’s inquiry was abandoned when the Court of Session found it had been “tainted by apparent bias”, after a legal challenge by Mr Salmond.
A message from the Editor
Thank you for reading this story on our website. While I have your attention, I also have an important request to make of you.
The dramatic events of 2020 are having a major impact on many of our advertisers - and consequently the revenue we receive. We are now more reliant than ever on you taking out a digital subscription to support our journalism.
Subscribe to scotsman.com and enjoy unlimited access to Scottish news and information online and on our app. Visit https://www.scotsman.com/subscriptions now to sign up.
By supporting us, we are able to support you in providing trusted, fact-checked content for this website.