Alex Salmond denies sexual offences against 10 women
Former first minister Alex Salmond has appeared in the High Court, where he denied carrying out a series of sexual offences against 10 women between 2008 and 2014.
Salmond faces 14 charges, which include one attempted rape, one intent to rape, 10 sexual assaults and two indecent assaults.
Appearing alongside two security guards at the High Court in Edinburgh, Salmond denied the charges, telling reporters “I am innocent and I will defend my position vigorously”.
He said: “As I’m sure you'll understand, I’m not permitted to say too much today. I can say that we’ve lodged our defence statement with the court, to plead not guilty of all charges, and explain some of the circumstances in which they’ve come about.
“I’m also conscious we’re in the middle of a general election campaign and I’m not going to say anything which would influence that democratic process.
“We’re now into our second year of court actions, first civil and now criminal. It’s over ten months since we won the civil action.
“I am innocent and I will defend my position vigorously.
“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.”
A second preliminary hearing will take place on January 22, with the trial due to begin on March 9.
The police investigation came after a Scottish Government inquiry into complaints of sexual harassment against Salmond.
Salmond then launched a judicial review against the Scottish Government in the Court of Session last year.
He won the case, with the former FM awarded more than £500,000 in legal costs after officials admitted the government breached its own guidelines during the investigation, by appointing an investigating officer who had "prior involvement" in the case.
The BBC reports the 14 charges allege that Salmond:
- Attempted to rape a woman at Bute House in 2014. He is alleged to have pushed a woman against a wall and to have removed her clothes and his own, before pushing her onto a bed and lying naked on top of her
- Indecently assaulted a woman on a number of occasions in Glasgow in June and July 2008 by kissing her on the mouth and touching her buttocks and breasts with his hands over her clothing
- Sexually assaulted the same woman in December 2010 or December 2011 in the Ego nightclub in Edinburgh by touching her arms and hips with his hands over her clothing
- Indecently assaulted a woman in October or November 2010 at Bute House by repeatedly seizing her by the wrists and repeatedly pulling her towards him and attempting to kiss her
- Sexually assaulted a woman in a car in Edinburgh on in February 2011 by touching her leg with his hand over her clothing
- Sexually assaulted a woman on various occasions between 2011 and 2013 at Bute House, the Scottish Parliament and other locations by touching her buttocks with his hands over her clothing, stroking her arms, and touching and stroking her hair
- Sexually assaulted a woman at Bute House in October 2013 by removing her foot from her shoe, stroking her foot, lifting her foot towards his mouth and attempting to kiss her foot
- Sexually assaulted a woman at Bute House in November or December 2013 by kissing her on the mouth
- Intended to rape the same woman in December 2013 at Bute House by causing her to sit on a bed, lying on top of her, making sexual remarks to her, touching her buttocks, thighs and breasts over her clothing with his hands, repeatedly kissing her face, struggling with her and pulling up her dress
- Sexually assaulted a woman in 2012 at the Ubiquitous Chip restaurant in Glasgow by touching her buttocks with his hand over her clothing
- Sexually assaulted the same woman at Bute House in April 2014 by placing his arm around her, making sexual remarks to her and attempting to kiss her
- Sexually assaulted a woman at Bute House in May 2014 by placing his arm around her body, placing his hand under her clothing and underwear and touching her breast, repeatedly kissing her on the face and neck and stroking her leg with his hand
- Sexually assaulted a woman at Bute House in September 2014 by seizing her by the shoulders, repeatedly kissing her on the face, attempting to kiss her on the lips and touching her leg and face with his hand
- Sexually assaulted a woman at Stirling Castle in November 2014 by touching her buttock with his hand over her clothing