Former Scottish first minister Alex Salmond is set to face trial in 2020 over multiple sexual assault allegations, with one charge linked to an attempted rape whilst living at the Bute House in Edinburgh.
The 14 charges levied against him involve ten counts of sexual assault, two counts of indecent assault and one count of attempted rape, reports said. The four-week-long trial is set to begin on 9 March.
An indictment accused the former Scottish National Party leader of attempted rape at Bute House, where he blocked her escape, took off her clothing, pinned her to a wall and forced himself on her whilst on a bed.
— Philip Sim (@BBCPhilipSim) November 21, 2019
The charge said: “[You did] push her onto a bed, kneel over her, pin her to the bed by her shoulder, lie naked on top of her, cause your erect penis to touch her body and you did attempt to rape her.
A further charge said that Mr Salmond forced a second woman to sit on a bed at Bute House and carry out sexual abuse "with the intent to rape her".
Scottish bar leader and Dean of the Faculty of Advocates, Gordon Jackson QC, and Shelagh McCall QC will represent the former First Minister.
His legal team had launched a defence statement in court pleading "not guilty on all charges", a weary Mr Salmond said in a public statement outside the High Court in Edinburgh, adding that he would not say anything to influence the ongoing general election and its "democratic process".
He said: "We're now into our second year of court actions, first civil and now criminal. It's all of ten months since we won the civil action. I am innocent, and I will defend my position vigorously.
— James Matthews (@jamesmatthewsky) November 21, 2019
The defendant took no further questions and said that he would go with his legal team at Parliament Hall for consultations.
The news comes after he was arrested just weeks after a trial involving a separate case in January. Salmond, who propelled the SNP to political dominance across Scotland, won a civil court case against the Scottish government, which accused him of sexual harassment in early 2019.
The former Scottish leader denied all allegations after being arrested and charged in the government-led probe. The Scottish government should pay costs incurred during the former FM's trial, the Court of Session ruled in January.
"The only thing I can say is I refute absolutely these allegations of criminality," he said at the time.
He previously won a civil case against the Scottish Government over a botched probe into allegations made against him. The Government admitted its procedures had been flawed and paid out more than £500,000 in legal expenses.
Mr Salmond led the SNP for 20 years in two stints and took the party from the fringes to political dominance north of the border. He was first minister from 2007 until 2014, when he failed to achieve his political dream of breaking-up Britain in the 2014 referendum.
Mr Salmond, 64, lives with his wife Moira, 81, in a converted mill in the Aberdeenshire village of Strichen. The couple have been married 37 years. He now hosts a chat show for the Russian television broadcaster RT.
Twelve of the charges he faces relate to the Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2009, which his government introduced.