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Alex Salmond lodges special defences to accusations of sexual assault

The former first minister of Scotland is at the High Court in Edinburgh for the first day of his trial.

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Alex Salmond arrives at court (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Alex Salmond arrives at court (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Alex Salmond arrives at court (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Former first minister of Scotland Alex Salmond has lodged defences to accusations of sexual assault.

The 65-year-old arrived at the High Court in Edinburgh on Monday for the first day of his trial over accusations of sexual assault, including one of attempted rape.

His lawyer Gordon Jackson QC 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.

Alibi was claimed for a charge of sexual assault against a woman.

The first complainer in the Crown’s case against Salmond began giving evidence shortly before lunch and told the court she had supported independence.

She was asked by advocate depute Alex Prentice QC if she supported the objectives of the SNP.

The woman said: “I never grew up political. I was a soft supporter of independence but I wasn’t necessarily hardcore party politically orientated.”

Alex Salmond court case
Lady Dorrian is presiding over the trial (Judiciary of Scotland/PA)

Judge Lady Dorrian earlier told the jury of nine women and six men they must be “impartial” during the trial.

The judge said the accused is a “very well known figure” and they should decide the case on the evidence heard in court and “nothing else”.

She added: “The overriding requirement that you must satisfy is that of impartiality.

“If you think that there is any reason that you cannot be impartial you must inform the clerk.

“You cannot allow yourselves to be swayed by sympathy or prejudice.”

High Court in Edinburgh
The trial at the High Court in Edinburgh is expected to last four weeks (Jane Barlow/PA)

Salmond faces 14 charges of alleged offences against 10 women, all of which he has pleaded not guilty to.

The charges span a period between June 29 2008 and November 11 2014, with one sexual assault said to have taken place in the month of the Scottish independence referendum in September 2014.

The indictment alleges Salmond attempted to rape a woman at the first minister’s official residence, Bute House in Edinburgh, in June 2014.

It is said he placed her legs over his, repeatedly kissed her face and neck, groped her and then blocked her path.

Salmond is then alleged to have pinned her against a wall, pulled at her clothes and stripped himself naked before trying to rape her on a bed.

The former MP is also accused of sexually assaulting a woman with intent to rape in December 2013.

He is alleged to have forced a woman to lie on his bed at Bute House and then pulled up her dress with intent to rape her.

The first charge listed accuses Salmond of indecently assaulting a woman by kissing her mouth and groping her on various occasions around Glasgow between June 29 2008 and July 24 2008.

It is also alleged he sexually assaulted a woman on various occasions between May 2011 and June 2013 at the Scottish Parliament, Bute House and elsewhere by touching her bottom and stroking other parts of her body.

Salmond – who was Scotland’s first minister from 2007 to 2014 – is also accused of sexual assault by allegedly taking off a woman’s shoe and trying to kiss her foot in October 2013.

He is further accused of grabbing a woman by her shoulders at Bute House, repeatedly kissing her face, trying to kiss her lips and touching her leg and face in September 2014, the month of the Scottish independence referendum.

Several charges involved the accused allegedly groping women, including one incident at a restaurant in Glasgow in March 2012.

Salmond’s trial, which is expected to last for four weeks, continues.

PA