Alex Salmond’s lawyer has accused the Scottish Government of leaking the contents of a letter in a “selective and deliberately misleading” way.
The Daily Record reported the former first minister blocked the release of government papers to the Holyrood inquiry into how complaints against him were handled.
Lawyer David McKie said the claim is untrue and the information “can only have come from the Scottish Government”, based on a confidential letter.
Deputy First Minister John Swinney has refused to provide some legal and court papers related to the Scottish Government’s unlawful investigation into harassment claims against Mr Salmond.
Mr Swinney told the Committee on the Scottish Government Handling of Harassment Complaints that an unnamed individual has objected to the documents being released.
Saturday’s Daily Record reported Mr Salmond was believed to be the person cited by Mr Swinney.
Mr McKie said the “highly defamatory and misleading article” must have been based on information leaked by the Scottish Government in a “clear data breach”.
Writing to the Scottish Government, David McKie said he wants the incident to be reported to the Information Commissioner’s Office and an investigation carried out.
The lawyer wrote: “The information in the article can only have come from the Scottish Government.
“It was information sent only to the Scottish Government in a letter marked ‘private and confidential’.
“The data breach is a clear contravention of the law.”
He added: “We are appalled that correspondence with the Scottish Government on matters as sensitive as those involved in this case cannot be sent with any confidence that they will be treated appropriately and in good faith.
“Furthermore, the breach appears to have been selective and deliberately misleading.
“It has resulted in a highly defamatory and misleading article being published about our client.
“That, doubtless, was the intention.”
Mr Salmond has offered to go to court in an attempt to obtain the Scottish Government documents used in the judicial review into their handling of harassment complaints.
In a letter to the committee, Mr McKie said Mr Salmond is not attempting to block papers being released, as suggested in the article, and is prepared to share the letter confidentially with the committee if asked.
He added: “Our client’s position is clear – he seeks to facilitate the maximum lawful disclosure of documents whilst respecting and, if necessary, enforcing the orders of the court.
“In contrast, the Government appears prepared to risk contempt of court by offering documents the committee has not asked for, while simultaneously refusing to provide the committee with material it has asked for and can lawfully provide, such as the external legal advice on the judicial review.”
Scottish Labour deputy leader Jackie Baillie, a member of the committee, said: “By practising evasion and now leaking, the Scottish Government is neither covering itself in glory nor acting as a Government should.
“It seems that the Scottish Government’s default mode of operation is cloak and dagger.
“This is not acceptable and must end.”
The Scottish Government has been contacted for comment.
In a separate letter, Mr Swinney has written to the committee convener to object to two instances of “junior” civil servants being named in evidence sessions by Ms Baillie.
The Deputy First Minister wrote: “The naming of individuals as happened on September 1 and September 8 could constitute a breach of their data protection rights and I would be very grateful for your help in ensuring that similar disclosure of Scottish Government employees’ personal data does not continue to occur.”