08:37 GMT13 April 2021
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    Alex Salmond led the Scottish National Party (SNP) for 20 years and was the head of Scotland’s semi-autonomous government from 2007 to 2014. Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has described him as her “mentor”.

    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.

    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.”

    ​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.

    ​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.

    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.

    ​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.

    ​​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. 

    Tags:
    Edinburgh, rape, Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP), Alex Salmond
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