A former UK government minister has told parliament he has received leaked information about the Alex Salmond inquiry from a whistleblower.
David Davis MP, the former Brexit secretary, said that he could use UK parliamentary privilege to discuss evidence relevant to a Holyrood inquiry into the botched investigation of harassment allegations against the former first minister.
Under the protection afforded by parliamentary privilege, he said he had messages from a whistleblower suggesting that First Minister Nicola Sturgeon knew about complaints against Salmond before April 2018.
He said: “For the past few months, Scotland has been transfixed with the Holyrood inquiry seeking the truth into what went wrong with the investigation into the former first minister Alex Salmond.”
Davis said that he had been given papers a number of weeks ago which included a “download of text messages”.
The Haltemprice and Howden MP said the Holyrood inquiry had faced “endless impediments in its efforts”.
He told parliament: “We have in effect given the Holyrood inquiry the right to summon evidence but not to use it. It’s because of these failings that I bring this debate today.
“Alex Salmond has asserted that there has been, and I quote ‘a malicious and concerted attempt to remove me from public life in Scotland by a range of individuals within the Scottish government and the SNP’ who set out to damage his reputation, even to the extent of having him imprisoned.
“These are incredibly grave charges. The whistleblower clearly agrees with those charges.
“He or she starts their communication with the assertion that the evidence provided, and I quote, ‘point to collusion, perjury, up to criminal conspiracy’.”
Davis said the information supplied by the whistleblower demanded “serious investigation”, including a review of the electronic records of the relevant senior SNP staff.
However, Davis said: “No single sequence of text is going to provide conclusive proof of the whistleblower described as a criminal conspiracy but it does show a strong prima facie case which demands serious investigation.”
Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross said: “If the First Minister’s side were aware of complaints against Alex Salmond in February 2018, an outrageous breach of those women’s privacy and confidentiality has occurred.
“February 2018 is also two months before Nicola Sturgeon originally claimed to find out about complaints. If her chief of staff knew then, and was interfering in the investigation, it blows another enormous hole in the First Minister’s story.”
A spokesman for the First Minister said: “As with Mr Salmond’s previous claims and cherry picking of messages, the reality is very different to the picture being presented.
“Every message involving SNP staff has been seen by the committee previously. Their views have been widely reported as dismissive of them.”