Salmond gives evidence

THE former first minister of Scotland told the High Court in Edinburgh he is a journalist, TV presenter, and retired politician. Wearing his signature Saltire tie, he stood at the witness stand with his clenched fist punctuating statements.

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

Gordon Jackson QC, representing Salmond, then said two of the 13 charges “jump out as being more serious” – the attempted rape and sexual assault with intent to rape.

READ MORE: SNP MP: time for Salmond's Bob Hope-like 'comeback'

The former never happened, Salmond said, while he claimed the second complainer had a “legitimate grievance” but there was never any intention to take things further than a “sleepy cuddle”.

As prosecutor Alex Prentice QC walked up to the lectern to cross-examine Salmond, he was assertive and direct. He moved on to the most serious of allegations, and tried to assert Woman H had been at a dinner in June 2014 – which Salmond disputed. “You attempted to rape her,” he said.

“I did not,” Salmond replied. He told the jury Woman H was not even there. The former first minister finished giving evidence after almost four hours.

The National: Gordon Jackson QCGordon Jackson QC

Attempted rape evidence

THE attempted rape was the most serious charge Salmond faced.

Woman H claimed it took place in Bute House after a dinner in June 2014. Salmond said the former Scottish Government worker was not at the official residence that evening and only knew about the engagement through knowledge of his whereabouts.

READ MORE: Alex Salmond Trial: Timeline of events up to today's verdict

He said she was “annoyed” because he did not help her with a political project.

Woman H was the first in the trial to give evidence. The former Scottish Government worker was in court because she alleged Salmond sexually assaulted her in May 2014 then tried to rape her the following month.

Salmond said the sexual assault did not happen but they had a consensual encounter the previous year. She was not at a dinner in June, he said. Woman H was emphatic that the consensual liaison never took place, nor would she ever want it to.

Jurors were shown a recording of a police Skype interview of a guest who had been there on the night in question. When asked who had been at the dinner, he said there were four people – himself, Salmond, a woman involved in Scottish business, and Woman H, he thought. Salmond’s defence argued Woman H had never been at the meal.

The defence called the Scottish businesswoman as a witness.

She told the court she was friends with Woman H but had no “recollection” of her being there.

The National: Alex Prentice QCAlex Prentice QC

Closing speeches

SALMOND’S lawyers described him as a “tactile”, “old-fashioned” sort of man.

That was in stark contrast to Prentice’s description of Salmond as a “sexual predator” and having no “licence to grope” women.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon to explain Salmond case role in 'fullness of time'

In his closing speech, Prentice told the jury the former first minister abused his position of power to satisfy his desires without punishment.

He said: “The Crown’s submission to you is this case is not about a plot and political conspiracy. It is about a powerful man who abused his power to satisfy his sexual desires with impunity.”

Jackson began the closing speech for the defence by walking up to the lectern wearing a tilted wig and facing the jury.

He told the nine women and six men Salmond could have been a “better man” but the case involved “very serious criminal charges”.

The lawyer repeated the line put by Prentice on the previous day – there are “patterns” – but different ones entirely, “sinister patterns”.

Something “stinks” about these matters becoming criminal all these years later, he said, adding it was “scary”.

He said: “I can’t prove it but I smell it. There’s something not right.” Jackson accepted Salmond could be inappropriate, adding “so what”.

He told the jurors Salmond could shout and “bollock” and be a “bugger to work for”, but there was no proof he had passed a criminal threshold.