Nicola Sturgeon’s appearance at an inquiry investigating the Scottish Government’s handling of harassment complaints against Alex Salmond has been postponed.
The First Minister had been due to appear in front of the Scottish Parliament inquiry next Tuesday.
However, a court ruling on Thursday may pave the way for Salmond to eventually make an appearance after he earlier pulled out following a committee decision to not publish some of his evidence.
If he does agree to make an appearance, that hearing would take place before Sturgeon is invited to answer questions.
A spokesperson for the Scottish Parliament said: “At its meeting today, the committee was united in its desire to complete this inquiry in an open and transparent way, and to publish its report and recommendations next month.
“Given the recent impact of the recent court judgement is not known, the committee has agreed that it must have the time to reflect on the impact of its work once the full written judgement is published early next week.
“As a result, the committee has agreed that the First Minster’s evidence should be postponed until the full impact of that judgement is considered.
“It is important for the committee to hear from Mr Salmond and the committee has always been clear that the First Minister should be the last witness to appear before the inquiry.”
Salmond was due to give evidence to the committee investigating the botched handling of complaints against him on Tuesday, but he refused to do so after it declined to publish evidence he submitted.
The committee cited legal concerns over the identity of complainers in Salmond’s criminal trial last year, where he was cleared of 13 charges at the High Court in Edinburgh.
However, a judge on Thursday amended a court order which prevents the publication of anything that may identify the accusers, as well as clarifying its scope.
The Spectator magazine – which published the evidence submission that the committee declined to – applied to the court to vary the terms of the order.
Ronald Clancy QC, acting for the magazine, argued the order is having a “significant influence” on how the committee is operating.
Following a meeting of the committee on Friday, MSPs decided to postpone Sturgeon’s appearance scheduled for next Tuesday until the ramifications of the court order amendment are known.
Judge Lady Dorrian’s judgement will be published early next week.
The committee was set up after Salmond received a £512,000 payout following the Court of Session civil ruling that the Scottish Government’s handling of the complaints against the former First Minister was “unlawful” and “tainted by apparent bias”.