A SPECIAL Holyrood committee investigating the Scottish Government's inquiry into misconduct allegations against Alex Salmond has raised “serious concern” about potentially deleted evidence.

MSPs on the committee fear that Outlook emails and other digital data may have been automatically removed.

Last month, MSPs announced concerns about the “preservation of evidence” with the First Minister.

MSPs were told Scottish Government computer systems “automatically delete material” not saved onto the corporate record system after a period of time.

Permanent Secretary Leslie Evans wrote to the committee to say she has “instructed the halting of the automated deletion of some users’ content”. The First Minister said she will retain emails, files and text messages related to the case.

READ MORE: 'Impossible to tell' whether Salmond documents have been deleted

In a letter sent to Evans earlier this month, the text of which has now been released, committee convener Linda Fabiani said there were “a number of outstanding matters” about which MSPs wanted further information.

She wrote: “The committee’s main concerns relate to the retrieval of information.

“In particular what it means in practice where you say that ‘It is not possible technically to tell what has been automatically deleted [after 14 months] or to retrieve material which has already been deleted from the system’.

“It appears from this that not only could some information have been deleted, but that it is not possible to establish whether this is the case.

“Given the Committee’s role in scrutinising the Scottish Government’s actions, you will appreciate that this is of serious concern to committee members.

“To address this matter, the committee would welcome more detail on the Scottish Government’s records management processes, including the technical operation of the system.”

Fabiani also requested a copy of the Government’s records management plan, relevant policy documents, retention and disposal schemes, “applying both to Outlook and to any other electronic systems used by the Scottish Government”.

The committee asked for “full copies” of the instructions issued to staff telling them to preserve evidence “rather than just the extracts” Evans previously supplied.

MSPs also want to know “what efforts have been made to establish whether any relevant information has in fact been deleted either as a result of automatic deletion from Outlook or otherwise” and what efforts had been made to retrieve any deleted material.

The committee said it was “concerned about the timescales involved” and whether Evans acted quickly enough to preserve evidence after being asked to do so by the committee.

Details about what material had been preserved because it had been needed for Salmond’s judicial review proceedings was requested too.

In her parallel letter to Sturgeon, Fabiani said: "Thank you for your reply of 15 April to my letter of 3 April.

"The Committee discussed your response at its meeting on 9 May and agreed that it would expect your commitment to preserve documents and information to apply also to those party members, party staff and other persons employed by you whose details you committed to preserve in your reply of 15 April.

"Although we assume this will be the case, I would be grateful if you could confirm that this instruction to preserve all documents and information will apply to those individuals."

Salmond was the subject of a Government probe last year after being accused of sexual misconduct by two female civil servants relating to his time in office.

He successfully challenged the process in court through a judicial review, showing the lead investigating officer had been in prior contact with both his accusers.

A judicial review ruled that rendered the process unfair, unlawful and “tainted by apparent bias”. Taxpayers have now been left with a £500,000 legal bill.

MSPs are investigating why the probe collapsed and why Sturgeon continued to meet her predecessor while her officials were investigating him in a potential breach of the ministerial code of conduct.

Salmond is also facing separate criminal charges. He strongly denies any criminality.