| 11.5°C Belfast

Alex Salmond could have been a better man, defence QC tells jury

The former first minister denies 13 sexual offences.

Close

Alex Salmond arrives at the High Court in Edinburgh (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Alex Salmond arrives at the High Court in Edinburgh (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Alex Salmond arrives at the High Court in Edinburgh (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Alex Salmond could have been a “better man” but is not guilty of sexual offences, his lawyer has told jurors at his trial.

Gordon Jackson QC, defending, said there was a “pattern” where “something that was thought nothing of at the time” has become a criminal charge in the High Court in Edinburgh.

Salmond, 65, denies 13 alleged sexual offences against nine women, who were all either working for the Scottish Government or within the SNP at the time.

The accusations span a period between June 2008 and November 2014 and range from him stroking a civil servant’s hair to trying to rape a former Scottish Government official in Bute House.

Mr Jackson started his closing speech to the jury of nine women and six men on Friday with a quote from one of the complainers. “I wish for my life the first minister was a better man and I was not here,” he said.

There’s only to be guilt in these matters, not because someone could have been a better manGordon Jackson QC, for Alex Salmond

He said it was a “good line”, which was also used at the beginning of Crown prosecutor Alex Prentice QC’s closing speech on Thursday.

Mr Jackson said: “If in some ways the former first minister had been a better man, I wouldn’t be here, you wouldn’t be here, none of us would be here.

“I’m not here to suggest he always behaved well or couldn’t have been a better man on occasions. That would be a waste of my time.

“But I’m in a court of law and I’m dealing, not with whether he could have been a better man, because he certainly could have been better.

“I’m dealing with whether or not it was established he was guilty of serious, sometimes very serious, criminal charges.”

Mr Jackson told the jury to find the charges proved requires a “very, very high standard of proof”.

He added: “You have to be satisfied to that very high standard.

Alex Salmond
The former first minister denies all allegations against him (Andrew Milligan/PA)

“There’s only to be guilt in these matters, not because someone could have been a better man.

“There can only be guilt in these matters because of that standard of proof.”

Mr Jackson suggested there was something “strange” about the allegations turning from being inappropriate to criminal, telling the jury the case “stinks”.

He said: “There’s something that does not smell right about the whole thing and you’re supposed to be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the former first minister was, not an eejit or inappropriate, it was criminal – serious, serious matters.”

The lawyer pointed to one of the more “trivial” allegations, which he said had been used to bolster the two charges which are serious – allegations of intending to rape and attempting to rape – adding: “This is scary stuff.”

Mr Jackson said Salmond has 30 years of public service, dealing with thousands of people, with charges coming only out of his time as first minister.

He added that his client was a “Marmite man”.

He said: “I don’t know what’s going on. I’m not suggesting you can work it out either.

“But I do know this – every single complainer brought to this trial is in the political bubble.

“This has gone far enough, gone on long enough, too long maybe, and it’s time I say to you, quite bluntly, to bring this to an end.”

The jury will be sent out to consider its verdicts after a break for lunch, the court heard.

Gordon Jackson
Gordon Jackson QC finished his closing speech on Friday (Jane Barlow/PA)

Judge Lady Dorrian told jurors they must decide whether the charges have been proven beyond reasonable doubt.

She explained there are three verdicts available – guilty, not guilty and not proven, the latter two both being verdicts of acquittal in the Scottish legal system.

Verdicts can be returned unanimously or by a majority, with at least eight of the 15 jurors needing to agree.

Salmond is on trial over accusations of sexual assault, including an attempted rape.

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 Lady Dorrian, continues.

PA