Nicola Sturgeon has claimed her predecessor Alex Salmond is “angry with her” because she refused to “collude with him” to make sexual assault allegations against him go away.
In a television appearance on Sunday morning, the current First Minister read from WhatsApp messages between her and Salmond to prove she had “nothing to hide” over the affair.
Salmond was the subject of a Holyrood inquiry after two harassment complaints were made against him but eventually won £500,000 in damages after suing the government over the nature of the probe.
He was later acquitted of all criminal charges at the High Court in Edinburgh, but earlier this week it was claimed Sturgeon failed to supply MSPs messages with Alex Salmond during the probe.
"At every stage, I've tried to do the right thing and not cover it up, and I think the reason perhaps he is angry with me - and he clearly is angry with me - is that I didn't cover it up, I didn't collude with him to make these allegations go away," she told Sky News’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday programme.
She added: "I've got nothing to hide in all of this, I face the situation where complaints were raised about my predecessor and the Scottish Government tried to investigate those complaints, it made a mistake in how it applied its process and there's a parliamentary inquiry into all of that.
"At the heart of this, and it pains me to say this because as you say this is somebody that I have worked with and cared about for a long time and I know this is difficult for my party, but this all came to light because complaints were raised about Alex Salmond.
"He was cleared of any criminal conduct but in the course of that and again this pains me to say it, there were admissions about his conduct made along the way and that's what's at the heart of this."
She added: "This is complaints made about him and that is important to remember."
When asked about potential discrepancies on when Ms Sturgeon said she knew about complaints, the First Minister told Sophy Ridge she was conflating different issues.
She said: "What you're asking me about, what I've been asked about before is when I became aware of concerns that were specifically raised with the Scottish Government that were then investigated by the Scottish Government."
Ms Sturgeon said the wider issue of Alex Salmond's behaviour was first raised in November 2017 and she had tried to stop them being “brushed under the carpet”.
She added: "I spoke to him about that at the time but that was different to the complaints that then came forward to the Scottish Government that are now the subject of the parliamentary inquiry."
The First Minister added: "All I've tried to do all along is make sure that complaints about senior people in politics can't be brushed under the carpet as has happened for generations.
"This was an issue of Alex Salmond's conduct here, yes he's been cleared of criminal charges but there were concerns raised that suggest that maybe he didn't always behave in this respect as he should have done and I've tried to do the right thing all along and I will continue to be upfront about that."