NICOLA Sturgeon has signalled the criminal proceedings against Alex Salmond will have no impact on the case for independence nor on her timetable for a new referendum.

The First Minister told the Andrew Marr show on BBC1 that independence “is bigger than any one man or woman” and confirmed she would set out her plans for a second independence referendum in the coming weeks.

Salmond, who preceded Sturgeon as First Minister and SNP leader, faced 14 charges when he appeared at Edinburgh Sheriff Court on Thursday and said he was “innocent of any criminality” and would defend himself in court to the utmost. He is due to make a second court appearance.

The First Minister told the Andrew Marr programme that the case in support of independence was not about personalities.

She refused to be drawn into whether she had been spoken to by Police Scotland about the case pointing out she could not make comment on an aspect of the investigation because of legal restrictions.

“The developments of last week were a shock to everyone, and there’s absolutely no denying that. But because charges were brought last week these are now live criminal proceedings subject to the Contempt of Court Act so there’s not anything that would be appropriate for me, or anyone else, for that matter, to say at this time.

“I will not comment on any aspect of the police investigation. That’s not a matter of choice, necessarily – that is the obligations I, like everybody else, are under to respect due process. It would not be appropriate for me to do so,” she said.

“I don’t think it has an impact on the future political and constitutional direction of Scotland. The case for independence is bigger than any one man – it’s bigger than any one woman – it’s not about individual personalities, it is about what is best for the country now and in the longer term.

“It’s about how we put ourselves in the best position to protect our interests and build prosperity and fairness in Scotland.”

She added: “That’s a case that obviously the SNP is in the leading position in making but it’s a case which over the last few years has won many converts. The experience over the last two and a half years around Brexit, we face being taken out of the EU against our will, the views of Scotland have been largely disregarded and have strengthened that case immeasurably.”

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On the issue of when she would set out her timescale for a second independence referendum, Sturgeon said she would do so over the coming weeks.

“Within that timeframe is when the UK is leaving, so if the UK is leaving at the end of March, we don’t know yet whether that will be the case, we don’t yet know if it is with a deal or without a deal, but within that timeframe yes, I think I have been pretty clear that that is the time I would intend to set out my views on the way forward for Scotland.”

The National:

Some SNP politicians have interpreted Alex Salmond's case as a blow for the Yes movement

She would not be drawn on the issue of what would happen in terms of a second vote on independence if the whole of the UK opted to remain in the EU in a second EU referendum, saying she did not want to comment on “hypotheticals”.

“I’m not going to get taken too far down the road of hypotheticals here. I want to see the UK, if possible, stay within the EU because, even if Scotland becomes independent, it’s in our best interest that the rest of the UK has a close constructive relationship with the EU, preferably that it remains a member of the EU.

“That’s why I’ve tried hard to be part of finding solutions for the whole UK. But I don’t want Scotland to be dragged out of the EU with all of the damaging consequences of that against our will,” she said.

Her comments come as some figures in the SNP claimed the Salmond case would impact on the timing of new independence vote.

A prominent SNP MSP, who declined to be named, told the Sunday Times: “It calls into question any prospect of calling a second independence referendum any time soon.” Another SNP figure told the same paper: “This week changes everything.”

The Scottish Greens, however, have already announced that they are updating their policies for an independent Scotland ahead of expectations Sturgeon will soon unveil plans in the coming weeks for a second vote.

READ MORE: Greens developing updated blueprint for independent Scotland

Ross Greer MSP, the party’s Europe spokesman, told The National last week that a new prospectus was currently being worked on taking account of Brexit and the changed circumstances in the UK since September 2014.

“We are going through the process of everything we published ahead of the 2014 referendum and looking at what we need to adjust in relation to any of the potential Brexit outcomes.

“We will be ready to bring the unique Scottish Greens case to the independence campaign. We will be able to make it in the event of Brexit happening or not happening or in the event of no deal. We will again be focusing on making a positive case for independence.”

The party wants new proposals for a basic income, energy and banking. It comes after Greer announced the Greens want a second vote regardless of what Brexit scenario unfolds and even if it does not happen.