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Former Scottish first minister pleads not guilty to sexual assault charges

Friday, 22 November, 2019 - 18:25

Scotland’s former first minister, Alex Salmond, has been formally charged in an Edinburgh court with 14 sex crimes against ten women, including two attempted rapes, during his time as head of the Scottish government. The independence leader has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

The former MP is accused of sexual assault by ten women, ranging from forced kissing to touching, to sexual assault with “intent to rape” and attempted rape in his official residence. According to the prosecution, Salmond forcibly kissed a woman before pushing her against a wall, trying to tear off her clothes and getting naked himself, before trying to rape her on a bed.

There are more numerous complaints about his conduct in meetings with women in Bute House, the first minister’s official residence in the city center of Edinburgh, but also in restaurants or cars. 

The charges cover a period between 29 June 2008 and 11 November 2014, with one sexual assault said to have taken place in the month of the historic referendum, the Independent reports.

Alex Salmond left the Scottish National Party (SNP) in August, so as to avoid bringing negative attention on the party. 

Speaking outside court after the hearing, the former first minister vowed to fight the charges against him.

“I’m not permitted to say too much today save that we’ve launched our defence statement with the court.

“It pleads not guilty to all charges and explains some of the circumstances in which they’ve come about.

“I’m also conscious we’re in the middle of a General Election campaign. I’m not going to say anything which would influence that democratic process.

“I am innocent and I will defend my position vigorously but the only place, the only proper place to answer criminal charges, is in this court – and that’s exactly what we intend to do next spring.”

The trial date has been set for 9 March. It should last four weeks. 



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