NICOLA Sturgeon said that the court’s decision to clear Alex Salmond of all charges “must be respected”.

While the First Minister said she would welcome “further discussion around the issue” it would have to be after the country has come through the coronavirus crisis.

Both the Tories and Labour have suggested the SNP leader has serious questions to answer over the whole affair.

In a statement, the SNP leader said: “The court has reached a verdict and that must be respected.

“I am a strong believer in a vigorous, robust, independent judicial process where complaints of this nature, if they come forward, are properly and thoroughly investigated, due process takes its course and a court reaches a decision, and that’s what has happened today.

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“I have no doubt that there will be further discussion around this issue in due course, in the fullness of time – and I will welcome that.

“But that time is not now.

The National:

“This country faces a crisis right now bigger than anything we have faced before and as First Minister my duty to the public is to do everything I can to focus 100% on steering us through that crisis, and that is what I intend to do.”

Scottish Tory leader Jackson Carlaw described it as a “national political scandal”.

He said: “As we all know, Scotland is dealing with a much more severe challenge today than this high-profile court case.

“That said, there are now some very serious questions facing the SNP, the Scottish Government and Nicola Sturgeon.

“The court case may be over, but for them this is just the beginning.

“Clearly, there is still a lack of information which needs to be fully interrogated, and the Scottish Parliament inquiry will provide that opportunity.

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“This remains a national political scandal with profound questions of integrity for the First Minister and her SNP government.

“However, that opportunity must be deferred for the time being while all our efforts and resources concentrate on Covid-19.”

Scottish Labour’s equalities spokesperson Pauline McNeill agreed, saying there were “serious concerns”.

She said: “The verdict of this trial does not take away from the serious concerns about the Scottish Government’s handling of this.

“We would expect questions about this to be fully explored during parliamentary scrutiny of this.”