Alex Salmond has decided to ditch a scheduled appearance at the Holyrood inquiry into the Scottish government’s botched handling of sexual harassment claims against him.
Rather than appear at the investigating committee this week, the former first minister is now expected to give an explosive press conference to make a series of allegations about Nicola Sturgeon.
Mr Salmond is angry that the committee of MSPs is refusing to publish his own dossier of claims against Ms Sturgeon and her government.
The former SNP leader is claiming his successor misled the Scottish parliament and broke the ministerial code by giving “false” evidence about her meetings with him – an allegation she denies.
Mr Salmond is understood to be planning to a press conference before Ms Sturgeon gives evidence to the inquiry next Tuesday. “Alex is going to get his story out one way or another,” a source close to the former FM told The Herald newspaper on the press event plan.
A spokeswoman for the Scottish parliament said the committee had made clear to Mr Salmond he would be able to “speak freely” about his contact with Ms Sturgeon and his views on her actions at his own scheduled appearance on Tuesday.
However, the committee is understood to have legal concerns about publishing documents produced by Mr Salmond and his team.
In a statement shared with the media last week last week, Mr Salmond claimed Ms Sturgeon had initially “suggested” she would back mediation into the allegations against him, before later deciding “against such an intervention”.
The first minister faces a separate investigation led by James Hamilton QC over whether she lied to the Scottish parliament about how much Ms Sturgeon knew of allegations against Mr Salmond in the spring of 2018.
Ms Sturgeon has claimed she was first made aware of the claims at a meeting with him at her home on 2 April, 2018. However, Mr Salmond claims his former chief of staff Geoff Aberdein had explained the background to her four days earlier, on 29 March.
He also claims she knew that the 2 April meeting was Scottish government business rather than an SNP party business. The Scottish ministerial code states that all government matters should be recorded.
Despite Mr Salmond’s no-show, fireworks are still expected at the Holyrood inquiry into the Scottish government’s handling of claims against Mr Salmond this week.
Ms Sturgeon’s husband Peter Murrell, the SNP’s chief executive, faces a grilling from MSPs at the Scottish parliament on Monday.
The senior party official will be questioned about text and WhatsApp messages about the former party leader – messages which Mr Murrell previously claimed under oath did not exist.
He last appeared at the committee in December, but opposition parties have since raised questions about the evidence he gave. Committee convener Linda Fabiani MSP previously sought clarity from Mr Murrell over a meeting between MsSturgeon and Mr Salmond at her Glasgow home on 2 April, 2018.
During this meeting, Ms Sturgeon was told by her predecessor of complaints of harassment made against him. Mr Murrell said Ms Sturgeon had mentioned the planned meeting the night before it took place.
He wrote: “My recollection is that Nicola mentioned to me on the Sunday evening that Mr Salmond would be visiting the next day, 2 April 2018. I have nothing further to add to my written and oral evidence on this matter.”