Alex Salmond’s lawyers have served legal papers on the Scottish Government as the former first minister challenges the way sexual misconduct allegations against him have been handled.
A statement from the firm Levy & McRae confirmed a petition for judicial review in the Court of Session has now been served on legal representatives of the government.
Scotland’s most senior civil servant, Permanent Secretary Leslie Evans, is the named as the first respondent in the case, with lawyers saying she had established the procedure which Mr Salmond is now challenging.
He now intends to “leave the Court to determine” the matter, the statement said.
Confirmation of the action came as the crowdfunding campaign set up by the former first minister to help towards his legal costs got closer to raising £100,000.
But his decision to ask the public for financial support has been branded “unprecedented” and “unbelievable” by opposition politicians – with some urging people to donate cash to women’s organisations instead of give money to the former SNP leader, who served at both Holyrood and Westminster during his lengthy political career.
A statement from solicitors Levy & McRae said: “We can confirm at 10am this morning, a petition for judicial review in the Court of Session by Mr Alex Salmond was served on the legal representatives of the Scottish Government.
“We can also confirm that first respondent is the Permanent Secretary, Ms Leslie Evans, who established the procedure which is the subject of challenge. The second respondent is the Scottish Government.
“Mr Salmond has no further comment to make but intends to leave the matter for the Court to determine.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said it would “vigorously defend” its position.
“As we stated last week there are a number of inaccuracies in Mr Salmond’s public statements which for legal reasons we cannot address just now,” the spokesman said.
“We will address those matters in court.
“But no-one should forget that there are two complaints that could not be ignored or swept under the carpet.
“As a responsible employer, the Scottish Government had to address those complaints appropriately.”
Mr Salmond announced his crowdfunding campaign at the same time he revealed he was quitting the SNP.
He said he was doing so because he feared there would “substantial internal division” within the party if his successor Nicola Sturgeon was forced to suspend him.
Confirmation of legal papers being served came as SNP MPs and MSPs met in Edinburgh for an away day before the UK and Scottish parliaments return next week.
A party spokeswoman said: “Nicola was given a very warm response from colleagues – they understand how difficult this has been for her, but they made it very clear how much they appreciate the dignified way she has handled things, and gave her several rounds of applause as she spoke.
“Nicola herself told colleagues how deeply difficult this situation has been for her personally.
“But she also made clear, once again, that due process must be followed and that the issues of substance, in terms of the complaints raised, must be properly addressed.”
Two complaints, fiercely denied by Mr Salmond, were raised in January against him and he was informed of an investigation in March.
The allegations about his conduct towards two staff members in 2013, while he was first minister, emerged last week with Police Scotland having already confirmed the complaints have been passed to the force.