First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said there is “no legal basis” to suspend Alex Salmond from the SNP, following accusations of sexual harassment.
She said her party had not received any complaints about her predecessor’s conduct – nor had it carried out the investigation – but the matter would be reconsidered if the situation changes.
It comes after opposition parties called for the SNP to suspend Mr Salmond over the allegations, which he denies.
Ms Sturgeon said: “As SNP leader, it is important that I set out the reasons for the party’s current position as clearly as I can.
“The SNP, like all organisations, must act in accordance with due process.
“In this case, unlike in some previous cases, the investigation into complaints about Alex Salmond has not been conducted by the SNP and no complaints have been received by the party.”
She added: “Also, for legal reasons, the limited information I have about the Scottish Government investigation cannot at this stage be shared with the party – and rightly it is the party, not me as leader, that has the power to suspend membership.
“In summary, the party has no legal basis at this time to suspend Alex Salmond’s membership.
“Of course, should that situation change, the matter will be reconsidered, as it would be for any member.
“The party’s rules apply to all members and no one is above them.”
The claims about Mr Salmond’s conduct towards two staff members in 2013 – while he was in office – have been handed to Police Scotland.
Leslie Evans, Permanent Secretary at the Scottish Government, said the complaints were raised in January and Mr Salmond was notified in March about an investigation.
She intended to make a statement regarding the complaints but the move was halted after the former first minister initiated legal proceedings.
Scottish Labour has now called for transparency from the Scottish government over meetings between First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, and her predecessor Alex Salmond during an investigation over allegations of sexual assault against Mr Salmond.
It is understood Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon met on several occasions to discuss the case.
Labour has said the government should publish the times, dates and details of these meetings and clarification if Mr Salmond had ever asked the first minister to interfere in the investigation in any way.
Scottish Labour parliamentary business manager and women’s spokesperson, Rhoda Grant MSP, last night said: “The people of Scotland expect full transparency in this case.
“It is understood that Alex Salmond met the first minister on multiple occasions to discuss the investigation into allegations of sexual assault into him.
“It would be completely unacceptable if the details of those meetings remained unknown.
“The allegations against Alex Salmond are incredibly serious. His meetings with the head of a government that was investigating him must not be kept under wraps.
“Nicola Sturgeon must publish the details and minutes of these meetings as soon as possible.
“The SNP must also do all it can to give complainants the support they need, whoever the alleged perpetrator is, and make clear that there is safe space for any other survivors to come forward.
“Meanwhile, Nicola Sturgeon should finally suspend Alex Salmond from the SNP immediately.”
Gordon MP Colin Clark who ousted Mr Salmond in last year’s elections last night would not be drawn into the debate about whether or not his constituent should resign from the SNP.
Mr Clark said: “The accusations are very serious and the complaints process must be followed. Everyone should be considered innocent until proven guilty and no-one, even the first minister, is above the law.”
A spokesman for Alex Salmond said: “As Mr Salmond made very clear yesterday when he spoke to all media outlets, he intends to make no further comment on these matters until his petition for Judicial Review is heard in the Court of Session.
“This is done on legal advice and in the context that he refutes these complaints of impropriety and absolutely denies any suggestion of criminality.”