Alex Salmond has told STV News he is “not guilty of harassing anyone” and “certainly not guilty of any criminality”, after two complaints of inappropriate sexual conduct were made against him.
Two women allege the misconduct took place at Bute House in December 2013, the official residence of the First Minister.
The Scottish Government said the complaints were made in January this year and reported to Mr Salmond in March.
He claims the Scottish Government has referred the matter to police, although Police Scotland is refusing to confirm if it has launched an inquiry.
Mr Salmond intends to take court action against the government to contest the complaints process activated against him.
Speaking to STV’s Holyrood editor Colin Mackay, the former first minister said: “I’m not perfect.
“I’ve made many mistakes in my life, political and personal, but I’m not guilty of harassing anyone and I’m certainly not guilty of any criminality.”
Asked if he had ever acted inappropriately, Mr Salmond replied: “I don’t believe so.”
The permanent secretary – Scotland’s top civil servant – Leslie Evans launched an investigation into the claims against Mr Salmond and reported their findings to him on Wednesday.
Police Scotland confirmed on Friday that it is investigating the allegations against Mr Salmond, saying its inquiry is “at an early stage”.
The Scottish Government established a new procedure on handling harassment complaints involving current or former ministers in December last year.
This new process was established in the wake of the #MeToo movement, which saw allegations of sexual harassment and sexual assault levelled against a host of high-profile men around the world.
Lawyers for Mr Salmond had sought to prevent the Scottish Government from making the probe public by raising an action at the Court of Session on Thursday.
Now, they are launching a judicial review against the government’s complaints process itself.
Mr Salmond alleges the investigation is illegal and breaches rules of natural justice, saying he has been denied access to information about the complaints, prevented him from mustering an effective defence.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon earlier defended the permanent secretary and the integrity of the harassment procedures.
Mr Salmond told STV he is taking his successor’s government to court with the “greatest reluctance”, saying his legal team had advised him to initiate proceedings sooner.
He continued: “If you’d said to me, ‘Alex Salmond, you’re going to end up taking the Scottish Government to the highest court in the land’, I would have said, ‘Ridiculous, incredible’.”
But he added he had been “left with no choice whatsoever” as the government had chosen to “break the confidentiality of their own process”.
Earlier on Friday, the permanent secretary at the Scottish Government, confirmed two complaints had been made.
Ms Evans said: “Last November, I agreed with the First Minister that, in light of wider concerns about harassment in Westminster and the Scottish Parliament, an internal review would be carried out into the Scottish Government’s procedures for handling complaints in the workplace.
“As part of that review, a new procedure on handling harassment complaints involving current or former ministers was introduced.
“Following the conclusion of an internal investigation I can confirm that the Scottish Government received two complaints in January in relation to Alex Salmond.
“Mr Salmond was notified of the complaints in March and the details of the procedure under which the complaints would be addressed.”
She added: “I informed Mr Salmond and the people involved on Wednesday, August 22, of my conclusions and that I was considering the public interest in making the fact of the complaints and investigation publicly known.
“Mr Salmond was subsequently given notice that I intended to make a statement referring to the fact of the complaints.
“Following legal proceedings instigated by Mr Salmond yesterday that statement was delayed. However, given that Mr Salmond subsequently dropped those proceedings I am now able to confirm the fact of the complaints.
“I note that the former First Minister has indicated his intention to challenge the actions taken by the Scottish Government.
“His statement contains significant inaccuracies which will be addressed in those court proceedings. The Scottish Government will defend its position vigorously.”
Broadcaster Russia Today (RT), which broadcasts The Alex Salmond Show every Thursday, says the programme will continue to broadcast despite the police investigation.
A spokesman for RT said: “This is a personal issue for Mr Salmond and all enquiries should be directed to him.
“The Alex Salmond Show will continue to air on RT at this time.”