Jury's verdict

Alex Salmond cleared of all sex assault charges

Alex Salmond outside court

Alex Salmond: denied the charges

Former First Minister Alex Salmond has been cleared of sexually assaulting nine women while he held the country’s top political job.

A jury at the High Court in Edinburgh found the former SNP leader not guilty on 12 of the charges facing him, while a verdict of not proven was returned on another charge of sexual assault with intent to rape.

A further charge of sexually assaulting a 10th woman had previously been dropped by prosecutors.

Mr Salmond, 65, wearing his trademark saltire tie, showed no emotion as the verdicts were read out.

He turned to the two officers flanking him in the court and said “thank you”.

After being discharged Mr Salmond by Judge Lady Dorrian, he said: “Thank you, my lady”.

Mr Salmond had denied all the charges against him and had told the court that the claims made about his alleged conduct were “deliberate fabrications for a political purpose” or “exaggerations”.

Mr Salmond hinted at more revelations to come from the internal divisions within the SNP.

Outside the court, he told waiting reporters: “There is certain evidence that I would have liked to have seen led in this trial but for a variety of reasons we were not able to do so. Those facts will see the light but it won’t be this day.”

There are now some very serious questions facing the SNP, the Scottish Government and Nicola Sturgeon

– Jackson Carlaw, Scottish Tories

There are demands for the current First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to address the splits in the party and the issues that Mr Salmond is pointing to, though politicians on all sides say these matters should not disrupt the current consensus and importance of dealing with the coronavirus epidemic.

It is now thought Mr Salmond will stand for election in 2021.

Jackson Carlaw, Scottish Conservative leader, said: “As we all know, Scotland is dealing with a much more severe challenge today than this high-profile court case.

“That said, there are now some very serious questions facing the SNP, the Scottish Government and Nicola Sturgeon.

“The court case may be over, but for them this is just the beginning.

“Clearly, there is still a lack of information which needs to be fully interrogated, and the Scottish Parliament inquiry will provide that opportunity.

“This remains a national political scandal with profound questions of integrity for the First Minister and her SNP government.

“However, that opportunity must be deferred for the time being while all our efforts and resources concentrate on Covid-19.”

Scottish Labour’s equalities spokesperson Pauline McNeill said:
“We wish to acknowledge that this has undoubtedly been a difficult and extremely traumatic time for all involved.

“Services are already under pressure today in Scotland, supporting victims and survivors, and have experienced increased demand as this high-profile trial has hit the headlines.

“The verdict of this trial does not take away from the serious concerns about the Scottish Government’s handling of this.

“We would expect questions about this to be fully explored during parliamentary scrutiny of this.”

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