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Alex Salmond tells sexual assault trial that some claims are 'deliberate fabrications for a political purpose'

The 65-year-old former Scottish first minister faces 13 charges of alleged offences against nine women, all of which he denies.

Image: Andrew Milligan/PA Images

ALEX SALMOND HAS told a court he believes some of the allegations against him have been “deliberate fabrications for a political purpose”.

The former first minster of Scotland began giving evidence at the High Court in Edinburgh today.

He is on trial accused of sexual assaults and one attempted rape.

“From where I stand now, I wish I had been more careful with peoples’ personal space but there was no intention whatsoever to offend,” he said.

Salmond added: “But I’m of the opinion, for a variety of reasons, that events are being reinterpreted and exaggerated out of all possible proportion.”

Asked why, he said: “There were two reasons – one is that some, not all, are fabrications, deliberate fabrications for a political purpose. Some are exaggerations taken out of proportion.

And I think that the impact of some of the publicity over the last 18 months may have led some people, quite innocently perhaps, to revise their opinions and said ‘oh well something happened to me’ and it gets presented in a totally different way, and people get into the sausage machine and they can’t get out even if they want to.

Innocent things

Salmond agreed with his lawyer, Gordon Jackson QC, that “things that didn’t happen” or “innocent things” had been “turned into sexual offences”, as he was taken through the charges against him.

He said a civil servant in the Scottish Government, who accused him of grabbing her and trying to kiss her following a meeting in the first minister’s official residence, Bute House, in 2010, had “misremembered” the incident.

Known as Woman B, she told the court on Monday Salmond had asked to recreate an image of a Christmas card design, featuring a man and a woman about to kiss beneath the mistletoe.

“I think over the passage of time the incident is misremembered,” he said.

“I did say ‘let’s recreate the Christmas card’. It was a joke, it was hijinks, it was a piece of fun. It was not meant to be anything more than that.

“She said ‘don’t be daft’ and we sat back down again.”

Salmond denied claims there was a policy that prevented him being alone with female civil servants at Bute House.

“No there was no policy like the one that’s been described,” he said.

But he said there would be “a blurring of the normal social/professional boundaries” in the “24/7” role with “people living out of each other’s pockets”.

Asked by Jackson if there were problems with female staff, Salmond said: “In general, no. There was an incident I was made aware of but in general, no.”

Encouraged others

Salmond said one of his accusers had encouraged at least five other people to exaggerate or make claims against him.

The senior Scottish Government official, known as Woman A, said he sexually assaulted her in Glasgow between June and July 2008.

But Salmond told the jury: “I would never, under any circumstances, be touching (the complainer) inappropriately. These are all public places. It would be insane to do anything like that. These claims are a fabrication.”

He also denied running his hands down her body at a nightclub in Edinburgh in December 2010.

“What’s a fabrication is that on the dance floor I proceeded to sexually assault her. It’s not just a fabrication, it’s ludicrous,” he said.

“It makes no sense whatsoever and that’s because it’s not true. It is a fabrication, just as she has encouraged at least five other people to exaggerate or make claims against me.”

‘A sleepy cuddle’

Salmond told jurors he has never had a non-consensual relationship with a woman in his life as he was questioned about an allegation he assaulted a woman in his bedroom at Bute House, in late 2013.

He said he and a Scottish Government official, known as Woman F, had “collapsed into what I would describe as a sleepy cuddle” on a bed after they drank the Chinese spirit Maotai together.

“My left arm was underneath (the complainer), my right arm was around (her) and both her feet were still on the floor. It was not a comfortable or easy position to be in. We were side by side and we were both fully dressed.”

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He explained he said sorry two weeks after the incident after the issue was raised by one of his staff.

“I apologised. I was the first minister. She was in my bedroom. We were tipsy, it shouldn’t have happened,” he said.

But asked if he had intended to rape her, Salmond said: “Not in the slightest… I have never entered into a non-consensual sexual relationship with anyone during my entire life.

“In these circumstances, I don’t even think I had an intent to cuddle. It’s something that happened in tipsy circumstances and as soon as (Woman F) made it clear, by saying, ‘it’s a bad idea,’ I snapped out of it and said, ‘it’s a very bad idea,’. We were still fully dressed.”

Allegations

The 65-year-old faces 13 charges of alleged offences against nine women, all of which he denies.

He was formally acquitted of one charge of sexual assault on Monday after the Crown offered no evidence, reducing the total from 14 charges against 10 women.

The Crown case concluded yesterday.

Salmond is on trial over accusations of sexual assault, including an attempted rape, spanning a period between June 2008 and November 2014.

His lawyers previously lodged special defences of consent and alibi.

Consent was given as a defence for three alleged sexual assaults and an alleged indecent assault against three women.

The trial, before judge Lady Dorrian, continues.

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