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 on Tuesday.
He is on trial accused of sexual assaults and one attempted rape.
Some, not all, are fabrications, deliberate fabrications for a political purposeAlex Salmond
“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.”
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 Mr 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.”
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 on Monday.
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.