The former First Minister of Scotland, Alex Salmond, has been found not guilty of sexually assaulting women over a six year period.
Salmond, 65, had denied 13 sexual offences, including one attempted rape, against nine women but a jury at the High Court in Edinburgh found him not guilty of all the charges.
For Alex Salmond to be acquitted of all charges is more than just an embarrassment for Police Scotland and the Procurator Fiscal. It’s a disaster.— Andrew Neil (@afneil) March 23, 2020
During the trial Salmond had claimed the charges were either “exaggerations” or “deliberate fabrications for a political purpose.”
He said: "I have never attempted to have non-consensual sexual relations with anyone in my entire life".
After walking free, Salmond spoke to reporters and, referring to the coronavirus crisis, said: “Whatever nightmare I’ve been in over these last two years, it is nothing compared to the nightmare every single one of us is living through. People are dying. More people are going to die.”
Alex Salmond says there is certain evidence that he would have liked to have led in this trial but wasn't allowed but will see the light of day one day but that won't be now because of the nightmare of the pandemic.— mandy rhodes (@holyroodmandy) March 23, 2020
Judge Leeona Dorrian had told the jurors they must decide whether the charges, which date from June 2008 until November 2014, had been proved beyond reasonable doubt.
The jury of 15 retired to begin their deliberations on Friday, 20 March, but two jurors dropped out over the weekend and the others delivered their verdicts on Monday, 23 March.
SNP MP Joanna Cherry says she’s “very pleased Alex Salmond has been acquited of these charges”. Released a lengthy statement, which includes a call for an independent inquiry into how the SNP handled the allegations, and calls for mr salmond’s role in snp history to be “restored” pic.twitter.com/c8bk3FNMWN— David Wallace Lockhart (@DaveyWLockhart) March 23, 2020
The charges ranged in gravity from stroking a female civil servant's hair to trying to rape a former Scottish government official in the leader's official residence, Bute House, in Edinburgh.
Lady Dorrian has Alex Salmond stand, and discharges him from the court. She thanks the jury, and the trial is over— Philip Sim (@BBCPhilipSim) March 23, 2020
Salmond led the pro-independence Scottish National Party for two decades and was first minister from 2007 to 2014.
He was the leader of the Yes campaign for independence in 2014 and stepped down as SNP leader after narrowly losing the referendum.
Salmond was succeeded by Nicola Sturgeon, who has yet to comment on the verdict.
Alex Salmond acquitted of all charges, as any kind of sensible appraisal of the evidence would dictate. Should never have been brought.— Craig Murray (@CraigMurrayOrg) March 23, 2020
For all those involved in the conspiracy to fit him up, you are not going to get away with it.
On Friday Salmond's lawyer, Gordon Jackson, told the jury there was something “strange” about the allegations and he said the case against Salmond “stinks.”
Mr Jackson conceded Salmond might have acted inappropriately on occasion but he said his conduct was not criminal.
Brace for the wrath of Alex Salmond after Scotland's former First Minister was acquitted of 12 charges of attempted rape and sexual assault involving nine women with a 13th allegation not proven. How could the police and prosecutor get it so wrong?— Kevin Maguire (@Kevin_Maguire) March 23, 2020
Under Scottish law there are three verdicts available to a jury - guilty, not guilty and not proven.
Salmond was found not guilty of 12 charges and the remaining charge was found not proven.