NINE women who brought charges of sexual misconduct against Alex Salmond have written an open letter claiming they are “devastated” by the verdict but hope “shining a light on their experiences” will “protect and empower” others.

The former first minister was acquitted of all 13 charges at the High Court in Edinburgh on Monday. The jury found Salmond not guilty of 12 charges of attempted rape, sexual assault and indecent assault after six hours of deliberations. One charge of sexual assault with intent to rape was found not proven.

Salmond welcomed the verdict, claiming his faith in the judicial process had been “much reinforced”. It was also welcomed by senior SNP figures including Joanna Cherry QC, who called for Salmond to be allowed to rejoin the party without delay, and for an independent inquiry into the way the party dealt with the allegations. Some of Salmond’s allies claimed the verdict was evidence of a “witch hunt” against him.

READ: The full statement of the Alex Salmond trial women

However in the letter, released by Rape Crisis, the women who brought the charges claim that though the behaviours Salmond and his defence team admitted to in court may not have been found to be criminal they should not be accepted by society.

Women A, B, C, D, F, G, H, J and K urge people to create “an environment in which people can challenge and report these behaviours without hesitation or fear of retribution”.

In his closing speech at the trial Gordon Jackson QC argued: “I’m not dealing with whether [Salmond] could have been a better man because he clearly could have been, but whether it is established he was guilty of serious, sometimes very serious criminal charges.”

In response the women write: “He said behaviour which others described as demeaning, intimidating and humiliating, was ‘trivial’.

“Today we want to send a strong and indisputable message that such behaviours should not be tolerated – by any person, in any position, under any circumstances.”

The women wrote in today’s letter: “Some say that women’s fight for respect has gone ‘too far’. We argue it has far to go.

“For too long, behaviour which should be condemned has been accepted and excused. For too long perpetrators in positions of power have been shielded by their ability to influence and intimidate.  

“For too long women’s complaints have been dismissed or swept under the carpet. And for too long, women have been let down by organisational structures which should exist to protect them, not put them in situations which endanger their welfare. This must end.”

The women said though the trial had been “a traumatic process” they remained convinced speaking out was “the right thing to do” and thanked Police Scotland and the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service.

They finished: “While we are devastated by the verdict, we will not let it define us. We hope through shining a light on our experiences, it will serve to protect and empower women in the future.”

Sandy Brindley, chief executive of Rape Crisis Scotland, said it was a “powerful and important statement” that would resonate with many in Scotland and beyond.

“It is an urgent call for an examination of our attitudes towards sexual harassment in Scotland, a call for the end to the minimisation and trivialisation and a call for change.

“For too long these behaviours have been tolerated and accommodated and this cannot stand any longer. These women are brave, and we stand with them and hope that their voices are heard.”

A spokesman for Alex Salmond said he would not be commenting further on the case while the coronavirus pandemic was ongoing.