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Alex Salmond charged with multiple counts of sexual assault and two counts of attempted rape

Salmond was the First Minister of Scotland from 2007 to 2014.

LAST UPDATE | 24 Jan 2019

Alex Salmond Legal Action Alex Salmond pictured earlier this month. PA Images PA Images

FORMER SCOTTISH FIRST Minister Alex Salmond has been arrested and charged with multiple counts of sexual assault and two counts of attempted rape.

Salmond, a former leader of the Scottish National Party and the First Minister of Scotland from 2007 to 2014, is to appear in court today.

“We can confirm that a 64-year-old man has been arrested and charged,” a spokesperson for Police Scotland said in a statement.

A report will be sent to the local prosecutors’ office, the police force added, which will decide whether to proceed with the case against him.

He has been under investigation by police following an investigation by the Scottish government into allegations by two women that he sexually harassed them several years ago. 

Salmond resigned from the SNP in August 2018 after the allegations were made public. In a statement released at the time, he said the complaints, which reportedly date back to 2013 when he was first minister, were “patently ridiculous”.

Speaking outside court today, he again denied any wrongdoing.

“The only thing I can say is I refute, absolutely, these allegations of criminality and I’ll defend myself to the utmost in court. I’ve got great faith in the court system in Scotland … that is where I will state my case,” Salmond told reporters.

Police began probing two harassment allegations against Salmond after complaints were formally raised with the Scottish government in January 2018.

He has fiercely denied the claims by two female members of staff dating back to 2013 when he was still in office, and accused someone in the Scottish government of leaking details of the accusations.

Salmond took legal action against the government — now led by his former Scottish SNP colleague Nicola Sturgeon — over how it handled the complaints process against him.

Earlier this month, he won his judicial review in Scotland’s highest civil court after the government conceded it had acted unlawfully while investigating the harassment claims.

However, the police’s separate criminal investigation continued, leading to his arrest.

Sturgeon has referred herself to a ministerial watchdog regarding talks she held with Salmond while he was being investigated.

‘The dream shall never die’ 

Salmond, who hosts a weekly political chat show on Russia television channel RT, has been the face of Scottish nationalism for decades.

He took Scotland to the brink of independence in a historic referendum in 2014 before stepping down.

In 1990 he took over leadership of the SNP, steering the party towards the political centre just as Britain’s New Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair was promising greater devolution to the home nations.

In the first elections for the devolved Scottish parliament in 1999, the SNP lost out to Labour and Salmond quit as leader. He said his decision was “forever”, but he was re-elected in 2004 saying: “I changed my mind.”

In 2007, Salmond became the first SNP First Minister, leading a minority government for four years before sweeping to a majority victory in 2011.

That win paved the way for the 2014 independence referendum, which he spearheaded in typically ebullient fashion, urging Scots to “break the shackles” of the 307-year-old union with England.

But after 55% voted to stay part of the United Kingdom, Salmond stepped down as first minister and party leader — vowing that the dream of more power for Scotland would nonetheless live on.

“For me as leader, my time is nearly over. But for Scotland, the campaign continues and the dream shall never die,” he said at the time.

With reporting by Órla Ryan 

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