Former First Minister Alex Salmond has been found not guilty of sex offences

by Ian Swanson

Former First Minister Alex Salmond has been found not guilty of a string of serious sex offences including the attempted rape of a colleague in a bedroom in his official residence in Edinburgh.

The 65 year old looked visibly relieved as he was found not guilty of 12 charges against nine women at the High Court in Edinburgh. A further charge of sex assault was found not proven.

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The verdict followed a 10 day trial, presided over by judge Lady Dorrian.

Lady Dorrian had told the jury of eight women and five men they must decide whether the charges had been proven beyond reasonable doubt.

The accusations spanned a period between June 2008 and November 2014 and ranged from him stroking a civil servant's hair to trying to rape a former Scottish Government official in Bute House.

Salmond's statement in full

Speaking outside court the former First Minister thanked his legal team family, friends and supporters.

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He said, “Ladies and gentlemen, just over a year ago when we finished the civil action and judicial review, I said I’d great faith in the court system of Scotland, that faith has been much reinforced today.

“So I would like to start by explaining that faith and thanking the jury for their decision. I’d also like to thank the courts service who’ve been courteous beyond limit over the last two weeks and to the police officers who’ve manned this trial under these extraordinary circumstance.

“Obviously above all, I’d like to thank my friends and family for standing by me over the last two years.

“I’d like to thank my brilliant legal team who are absolutely exceptional. I’d like to thank all of the people who have sent so many messages over the last 18 months or so but particularly in recent days.

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“As many of you will know there is certain evidence I would like to have seen led in this trial but for a variety of reasons we weren’t 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 as of these last two years, it is as nothing compared to the nightmare that every single one of us is currently living through.

"People are dying, many more are going to die, what we are doing just now and I know you’ve got a job to do but it isn't 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 and are able to, take care of your families and god help us all.

“Thank you very much indeed.”

He added, “Whatever nightmare I have been through over the last two years it is as nothing compared to the situation we are all going through now.

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“If you can, go home, take care of your families, God help us all.”

Calls for an independent enquiry

Joanna Cherry was one of the first senior SNP figures to react.

She said, "I am very pleased that Alex Salmond has been acquitted of these charges. Those of us who know him, and indeed many of the thousands of people who have met him over the years, did not recognise the man described in the evidence led for the Crown.

"Some of the evidence that has come to light both in the judicial review and at this trial raise very serious questions over the process that was employed within the Scottish Government to investigate the alleged complaints against Mr Salmond and I am sorry to say some of the evidence also raises serious question marks over how these complaints were handled by the SNP."

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She added, "There should also be an independent inquiry into how the SNP dealt with these allegations and an inquiry into our internal complaints procedure which many members have expressed significant dissatisfaction with."

"It goes without saying that Mr Salmond must be allowed to re-join the party without delay, if that is what he wishes to do, and that his place in the party’s history must be restored to the prominence it deserves."

'Serious questions facing the SNP'

East Lothian MP and former Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill tweeted, “Delighted for Alex Salmond. Some resignations now required.”

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

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“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.”

A version of this article originally appeared on our sister site, The Scotsman