Bare-faced liar: Alex Salmond’s reputation in the mud

Alex Salmond appeared to have been caught in an out-and-out lie yesterday, amid a disastrous series of events for the Scottish National party (SNP).

Deputy first minister Nicola Sturgeon was forced to admit ministers had not requested legal advice on whether Scotland would be forced to adopt the euro if it became independent, despite Salmond previously insisting he had obtained legal views.

"It appears the first minister is a liar and used taxpayers' money to try to cover up his lies," Paul Martin, a Labour MSP, said.

"Now Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed that Alex Salmond never had any advice to keep secret in the first place. Alex Salmond has started the debate on Scotland's future within the UK with barefaced lies that even embarrass his deputy."

Ruth Davidson, Scottish Tory leader, said: "This has been a Cabinet cover-up right from the beginning using taxpayers' money to try and hoodwink the Scottish people."

The SNP has spent £12,000 on a court action preventing the Scottish information commission's demand for the disclosure of the  non-existent advice.

In March, Salmond was asked by the BBC's Andrew Neil if he had sought independent legal advice.

"We have, yes, in terms of the debate," he said.

"I can't reveal the legal advice of law officers but what you can say is everything we publish is consistent with the legal advice we receive."

A parliamentary answer earlier this year also stated an independent Scotland would not be forced to join the euro.

Salmond was forced back to Holyrood to explain the discrepancies yesterday, in a profoundly humiliating moment for the SNP leader. During a tumultuous debate, he insisted the BBC interview did not refer to specific legal advice.

The scandal comes as the SNP's majority was reduced to just one, after two MSPs – John Finnie and Jean Urquhart – quit the party over its decision to join the Nato alliance.

Meanwhile, the responses to a public consultation on the referendum rules made depressing reading for the SNP.

A majority of the 26,000 respondents wanted one single in-or-out question on independence and most disapproved of the decision to extent the franchise to 16-and-17-year-olds.