First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s appearance at the inquiry investigating the handling of allegations against Alex Salmond has been postponed.
The MSPs leading the probe reached the decision following an emergency meeting on Friday afternoon to discuss a High Court legal ruling relating to the case.
Ms Sturgeon had been expected to testify on Tuesday next week, but that will now not go ahead.
The committee’s decision raises the prospect that it could perform a U-turn and publish key evidence from Mr Salmond in the wake of Thursday’s judgement.
Mr Salmond is understood to be ready to give evidence if the documents are published.
The committee had previously said that Ms Sturgeon would be its last witness, but may now alter the timetable to enable Mr Salmond to appear before his successor as first minister and SNP leader.
A Scottish Parliament spokeswoman said: “At its meeting today, the committee was united in its desire to complete this inquiry in an open and transparent way, and to publish its report and recommendations next month.
“Given the impact of the recent court judgement is not yet known, the committee has agreed that it must have the time to reflect on the impact on its work once the full written judgment is published early next week.
“As a result, the committee has agreed that the first minster’s evidence should be postponed until the full impact of that judgment is considered.
“It is important for the committee to hear from Mr Salmond and the committee has always been clear that the first minister should be the last witness to appear before the inquiry.”
Mr Salmond was expected to appear before the Holyrood committee on Tuesday this week, but declined to do so after it failed to publish the evidence he submitted.
The committee was split, voting by five to four against disclosing the details, citing legal concerns over orders to protect the anonymity of complainers.
But on Thursday a High Court judge amended the order that prevents the publication of information likely to identify any of the accusers, to clarify its scope.
The move led to the emergency meeting of committee members on Friday to discuss the implications of the ruling.
Mr Salmond is understood to be ready to appear before the MSPs next week, but only if they publish his documents.
Details of Judge Lady Dorrian’s decision are expected to be released early next week.
Labour MSP Jackie Baillie said: “I am very glad that the committee has today reaffirmed its wish to speak to Alex Salmond, and given his stated intention to come before the committee I look forward to the date of his appearance.
“On Tuesday the committee will meet to discuss Lady Dorrian’s judgement, due on Monday, and I hope that we will then be in a position to publish the evidence provided by Mr Salmond.
“I also look forward to the first minister appearing before the committee in due course, and I am sure she will engage with the committee in the spirit of co-operation and transparency that she has promised on repeated occasions.”
‘Blocking us at every turn’
Conservative committee member Murdo Fraser said: “From the outset, this committee have been clear that we could not do our job properly without being able to question Alex Salmond in person. I’m pleased members today have agreed a decision that will hopefully now allow that to happen.
“Once we have had time to digest the full details of the revised court order, the former first minister must now appear at the earliest opportunity. His evidence is absolutely vital to this inquiry.
“Nicola Sturgeon promised to be fully co-operative with this inquiry but the reality has been her government blocking us at every turn.
“When she appears after her predecessor, she must be fully open and transparent.”
The Holyrood committee was set up after Mr Salmond received a £512,000 pay-out following the Court of Session civil ruling that the Scottish Government’s handling of the complaints was “unlawful” and “tainted by apparent bias”.
Separately, the former first minister was cleared of 13 charges, including sexual assault, indecent assault and attempted rape, following a trial at the High Court last year.