Nicola Sturgeon and her husband will be forced to give evidence under oath to a Scottish Parliament inquiry into the mishandling of misconduct claims against Alex Salmond, it has been announced.
The specially-convened Holyrood committee tasked with examining the Scottish Government's handling of harassment complaints made against the former First Minister confirmed it will take the unusual step when questioning witnesses.
Some MSPs on the committee argued taking sworn evidence under oath was necessary given the seriousness of its inquiry and to maximise the accuracy of witness evidence amid "conflicting" claims.
Refusing to take an oath is an offence punishable by up to three months in jail or a £5,000 fine. Giving false evidence could attract a five-year prison sentence.
Mr Salmond won a judicial review last year when Scotland’s highest civil court found that the way the Scottish Government investigation was handled was unlawful.
The case was abandoned on the eve of a Court of Session hearing after the government admitted it had breached its own guidelines by appointing an investigating officer who had “prior involvement” with two civil servants who had made complaints.
The SNP administration he once led paid him £512,250 of taxpayers' money to cover his legal costs after the judge Lord Pentland ruled the inquiry was "procedurally unfair" and "tainted with apparent bias".
The committee’s inquiry into the debacle was suspended when Mr Salmond was charged with sexual offences, but it was kickstarted after he was cleared.
In March this year, he was cleared of 13 sexual offences by a jury following a trial at the High Court in Edinburgh.
MSPs will likely investigate three meetings between Ms Sturgeon and her former mentor, including two at her home, and two phone calls they held.
Newly-published papers confirmed that the committee has agreed it "will administer an oath/solemn affirmation for witnesses as a matter of course but that it will review this position in the case of any vulnerable witnesses."
Leslie Evans, the Scottish Government's permanent secretary and Ms Sturgeon's most senior mandarin, is expected to be the first witness to be questioned when the committee starts holding evidence sessions in August.
Among the other witnesses expected to be called are John Swinney, the Deputy First Minister, and Mr Salmond and Ms Sturgeon's respective chiefs of staff.