Who is James Hamilton? And why is his report so important to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon's future?

The report from James Hamilton into First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s conduct throughout the Alex Salmond sexual harassment investigation has been a long time coming.

But who is James Hamilton? Why is his report so important? And why was he chosen to gather all the relevant information?

James Hamilton legal credentials are quite impressive. A barrister by trade, he rose to become the Director of Public Prosecutions for the Republic of Ireland, a role which he held between 1999 and 2011.

He was then appointed by the Scottish Government as an independent advisor in 2011, and also holds the same role for the Welsh Government.

Much hangs on the report by James Hamilton.

His position is to enable transparency and an independent viewpoint in matters which are perhaps sensitive or need to be handled without the interference of political leanings.

As an advisor on the Ministerial Code, he has been investigating whether there has been a breach, and his conclusions are to be handed to the Scottish Government.

While clearly qualified to examine the intricacies of the rules in this case, he has also been chosen because he lacks the political baggage which weigh so heavily on the committee which has also been trying to get to the bottom of the case.

Already, with opposition party members leaking the report early which claimed the First Minister misled the committee – and some making public statements alluding to her guilt before she had even given evidence – there have been accusations that rival politicians on the committee seemed to be out for blood rather than the truth.

The report by James Hamilton into Nicola Sturgeon's conduct around the Salmond affair has been long awaited.

The difference here is that James Hamilton does not have a political axe to grind and can be seen as a truly independent investigator.

Alex Salmond has claimed that there was a conspiracy against him in the Scottish Government, one that he believes aimed to have him prosecuted.

This is something that the current First Minister has outright denied.

This is why Nicola Sturgeon referred herself to James Hamilton – so that government and the wider public can be assured of a transparent investigation which won’t get bogged down with politics or egos.

Those same two factors may have the waters in the committee’s probe into how the investigation into Mr Salmond dropped the ball so spectacularly.

But the arrival of James Hamilton’s report could have serious repercussions for the First Minister and the Scottish Government heading into the next election.

However, only time will tell as to how much of an impact his words would have for Scotland’s political future.