Scotland politics

Nicola Sturgeon told not to delete Alex Salmond emails

Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon
Image caption Ms Sturgeon has denied interfering in the Scottish government investigation into the allegations against her predecessor

Nicola Sturgeon has been told not to delete her personal emails, texts or mobile phone data by MSPs investigating the handling of sexual misconduct allegations against Alex Salmond.

The first minister has also been asked to ensure that the SNP does not destroy any documents that might be relevant.

Mr Salmond has been charged with 14 offences, including two of attempted rape.

He has strongly denied the allegations against him.

The Court of Session ruled in January that the Scottish government's handling of complaints about the former first minister had been "unlawful" because the investigating officer had previous contact with the two women who made the allegations.

Following that ruling, a committee of MSPs headed by the SNP's Linda Fabiani was set up to examine what happened - although its investigations have been put on hold until the conclusion of the criminal case against Mr Salmond.

A separate investigation is also taking place to determine if Ms Sturgeon breached the ministerial code in a series of meetings and telephone conversations with the former first minister while the Scottish government was looking into the complaints.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The request was made by committee convener Linda Fabiani

In a letter to Ms Sturgeon, Ms Fabiani asks the first minister to ensure that "all hard copy and electronic documents (including emails and electronic messages) which you hold, and which may be either directly or indirectly relevant to the inquiry are being preserved".

This should include any personal communications such as email and mobile phone data, Ms Fabiani added.

The letter also urges Ms Sturgeon to ensure that the names, positions and contact details of any SNP members, staff or other employees who may have had involvement in the case are also preserved.

And it asks her to confirm that she will take the necessary steps to ensure this is done.

The letter comes after Scotland's most senior civil servant, Permanent Secretary Leslie Evans, told the committee that Scottish government computer systems automatically delete material not saved onto the corporate record system after a period of time.

However, Ms Evans assured the committee that this feature can be temporarily suspended for some users.

In a separate letter to Ms Evans, Ms Fabiani asks her to confirm "whether documents which may be relevant to the inquiry have been deleted before this halt was ordered and what steps are being taken to recover this information."

Ms Sturgeon has previously pledged to answer to the "fullest extent possible" any questions the committee has during its investigation.