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November 22, 2019

Salmond vows to ‘vigorously’ defend himself

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P
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November 22, 2019

EDINBURGH: Alex Salmond has said he will “vigorously” defend his position after pleading not guilty to offences against 10 women.

The 64-year-old appeared at the High Court in Edinburgh on Thursday to face 14 allegations, including an attempted rape at the official residence of the first minister of Scotland during the independence referendum campaign.

As well as that charge, Salmond faces a further 11 charges of sexual assault — including one with intent to rape — and two of indecent assault.Speaking outside court after the hearing, with a trial date set for March 9, the former first minister confirmed a not guilty plea had been submitted.

He said: “I’m not permitted to say too much today save that we’ve launched our defence statement with the court.” It pleads not guilty to all charges and explains some of the circumstances in which they’ve come about.

“I’m also conscious we’re in the middle of a General Election campaign. I’m not going to say anything which would influence that democratic process. We’re now into a second year of court actions, first civil and now criminal — it’s over 10 months since we won the civil action.

“I am innocent and I will defend my position vigorously but the only place, the only proper place to answer criminal charges, is in this court — and that’s exactly what we intend to do next spring.”

The charges span a period between June 29, 2008 and November 11, 2014 with one sexual assault alleged to have taken place in the month of the referendum.

Salmond attempted to rape a woman at Bute House in Edinburgh in June 2014, the indictment alleges. The former MP and MSP is also accused of sexually assaulting a woman with intent to rape in December 2013.

Gordon Jackson QC, representing Salmond, said his client denied the allegations.Judge Lady Dorrian continued the preliminary hearing until January 22, with the trial in March expected to last four weeks.

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