In Depth

Alex Salmond accused of attempted rape and sexual assaults

Scotland’s former first minister is facing a total of 14 charges involving ten women

Former Scottish first minister Alex Salmond has appeared in court today accused of sex crimes including attempting to rape a woman at the leader’s official residence.

The 64-year-old is facing a total of 14 charges, all of which he strongly denies, involving ten women.

What else do we know?

The alleged offences are said to have taken place between June 2008 and November 2014, while Salmond was serving as first minister - the leader of the Scottish Government. They comprise one attempted rape, one intent to rape, ten sexual assaults and two indecent assaults.

The indictment says the attempted rape took place at the first minister’s official Bute House residence in Edinburgh.

Sky News reports that Salmond is alleged to have “repeatedly kissed a woman on the face and neck, repeatedly blocked her path, pinned her head against a wall, removed her clothing and underwear, pushed her onto a bed, knelt over her, pinned her to the bed by the shoulder, lay naked on top of her and attempted to rape her”.

The BBC lists the other charges against Salmond, which include:

  • Indecently assaulting a woman multiple times in June and July 2008 by “kissing her on the mouth and touching her buttocks and breasts with his hands over her clothing”
  • Sexually assaulting the same woman in December 2010 or December 2011 in the Ego nightclub in Edinburgh
  • Indecently assaulting a woman in October or November 2010, again at Bute House, by “repeatedly seizing her by the wrists and repeatedly pulling her towards him and attempting to kiss her”
  • Sexually assaulting 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 assaulting 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”

Speaking outside the High Court in Edinburgh after the preliminary hearing, Salmond said: “I am innocent and I will defend myself vigorously.”

The trial is due to begin on 9 March 2020 and is expected to last for four weeks.

What has Salmond been doing since leaving office?

Salmond was twice leader of the Scottish National Party, which he led into government at Holyrood - the Scottish parliament - in 2007. Following the election victory, he served as first minister of Scotland until November 2014.

The veteran politician left office after losing the 2014 Scottish independence referendum, and was replaced by his former deputy Nicola Sturgeon. He returned to Westminster as an MP after the 2015 election, but lost his Gordon seat to the Conservatives in the 2017 snap election.

He has since stepped back from front-line politics, instead hosting The Alex Salmond Show on the Russian state-owned RT network.

After 45 years as a party member, 20 of them as leader, he resigned from the SNP in 2018 to fight the sexual assault allegations.

Glasgow-based newspaper The Herald has said that Salmond was responsible for “taking [the SNP] to its greatest electoral heights and closer than it has ever been to realising its goal of independence”.

After the former SNP leader quit the party in August last year, The Independent’s Sean O’Grady wrote that Salmond has been “for three decades a permanent star in the political firmament, loved and loathed in equal measure”.

O’Grady added: “If independence does eventually come to Scotland, there will be many claiming parenthood, but there will only be one man who has a just claim to be father of it.”

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