Alex Salmond, who just four years ago spearheaded a bid for Scotland’s independence, appeared in court on Thursday on charges including attempted rape and sexual assault.
Salmond, 64, was arrested Wednesday and faces 14 charges including: nine counts of sexual assault, two of attempted rape, two of indecent assault and one of breach of the peace.
The former Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP) leader denied any wrongdoing when he spoke briefly to reporters after appearing at Edinburgh Sheriff Court on Thursday.
Salmond, who did not enter a plea, was released on bail, with his next court date yet to be fixed.
I refute absolutely these allegations of criminality and I will defend myself to the utmost in court. I would love to say a great deal more but I’ve got to observe the rules of the court and in court is where I will state my case.” – Alex Salmond, ex-SNP leader
“I am innocent of any criminality whatsoever,” he said. “I refute absolutely these allegations of criminality and I
will defend myself to the utmost in court. I would love to say a great deal more, but I’ve got to observe the rules of the court, and in court is where I will state my case.”
Salmond stepped down as leader of the governing Scottish National Party in August after sexual harassment allegations were made by two women. Salmond strongly denies the claims and sued the Scottish government over its handling of the claims.
Scotland’s highest civil court ruled earlier this month that the way the Scottish government handled the allegations against Salmond was unlawful, but that didn’t derail the police investigation.
Salmond led the pro-independence SNP for 20 years and headed Scotland’s semi-autonomous government as first minister, from 2007 to 2014. A big figure on the Scottish political stage for decades, he led the 2014 referendum campaign for Scottish independence — a vote won by the Remain side.
Current First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, when asked by reporters on Thursday, called the arrest a “a shock to many people” but said she would not be commenting further.
“As Police Scotland have made clear this morning, these are now live criminal proceedings, and that means now more than ever it would be completely inappropriate for me or anybody else for that matter to make any comment on the situation,” the SNP leader said.
Source : cbc