ALEX Salmond has been cleared of sexually assaulting nine women.

A majority of the jury at the High Court in Edinburgh found the former first minister not guilty of 12 charges of attempted rape, sexual assault and indecent assault.

They delivered a not proven verdict on a charge of sexual assault with intent to rape.

The prosecution had claimed the former first minister was a “sexual predator” who abused his power to target young woman who worked for him.

Several women told the court that they were assaulted by Salmond, including in Bute House, the First Minister’s official residence in Edinburgh.

Salmond denied the alleged incidents took place and said any contact had been consensual.

The former first minister said some of the charges were fabrications for political purposes. 

He told the jury: “From where I stand now, I wish I had been more careful with people’s personal space, but there was no intention whatsoever to offend,” he said.

“But I’m of the opinion, for a variety of reasons, that events are being reinterpreted and exaggerated out of all possible proportion.”

The first complaints against Salmond were made in January 2018, when the Scottish Government received two allegations of sexual misconduct from civil servants.

A Government investigation upheld the complaints and passed their findings on to Police Scotland.

Days later, news of the Government’s investigation was leaked to the Daily Record, prompting Salmond to begin legal proceedings, accusing Government of abuse of process.

In January last year, the Scottish Government admitted during a judicial review that it had acted unlawfully.

During two procedural hearings held before the trial – which can only be reported now – Salmond’s QC Gordon Jackson argued that the Scottish Government were furious after the former first minister won his judicial, and suggested there was a conspiracy against him and that one of the women had contacted some of the other complainers. He claimed that a woman in the

Scottish Government had been encouraging “others to make false complaints” to the police.
He read out a text from an SNP politician – who was also one of Salmond’s accusers – about the woman, which read: “Jeez, think [she] is in trouble. S isn’t going to stop until he gets her and he’s bringing down Nicola on the way.”

Jackson also said Scotland’s top civil servant, Permanent Secretary Leslie Evans, who was in charge of the investigation, had sent a text message to an unnamed person which read: “We may lose the battle but we will win the war.”

Speaking outside the court, Salmond thanked the jury, his family and the supporters who had sent him messages in recent days.

He said the verdict had proved his faith in the Scottish justice system.

Salmond said his defence had wanted to submit evidence that they were not, for legal reasons, allowed to present. This, he promised, would see the light of day soon.

Salmond said: “As many of you will know, there are 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.

“At some point that information, that facts, and that evidence will see the light of day.

“But it won’t be this day, and it won’t be this day for a very good reason. And that is, whatever nightmare I’ve been in over these last two years, it is as of nothing compared to the nightmare that every single one of us is currently living through. People are dying, many more are going to die.”

Addressing directly the journalists and photographers outside the court, Salmond said: “What we are doing just now, and I know you’ve got a job to do, is not safe. I know it’s your job but it ain’t safe. And my strong, strong advice to you is to go home, those who can are able to, take care of your families. And God help us all.”

Salmond was originally charged with 14 offences, but he was formally acquitted of one charge – a 10th sexual assault – after the prosecution withdrew the charge.