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Woman at dinner on night Salmond accused of trying to rape her, says guest

The former first minister of Scotland’s lawyer had previously suggested she had not been at the dinner that night.

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Former Scottish first minister Alex Salmond arrives at the High Court in Edinburgh for the third day of his trial (Jane Barlow/PA)

Former Scottish first minister Alex Salmond arrives at the High Court in Edinburgh for the third day of his trial (Jane Barlow/PA)

Former Scottish first minister Alex Salmond arrives at the High Court in Edinburgh for the third day of his trial (Jane Barlow/PA)

A guest at Bute House has said a former Scottish Government official was at a dinner there on the evening Alex Salmond is alleged to have tried to rape her.

The former first minister of Scotland is on trial at the High Court in Edinburgh over accusations of sexual assault.

The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, has spoken about two alleged incidents, including one charge that the 65-year-old tried to rape her in June 2014.

Bute House
The woman gave evidence about two alleged incidents at Bute House (Jane Barlow/PA)

Salmond’s lawyer had previously suggested she had not been at the dinner that night.

But a recording of a Police Scotland interview taken via Skype in 2019 was played in the courtroom on Wednesday when the guest claimed he had met the complainer at the dinner.

Under questioning from Detective Chief Inspector Graeme McLachlan, the man said the evening’s atmosphere was “jovial” and described the building as “musty”.

It was heard one bottle of wine was shared between a few people during the meal and no-one was overly intoxicated.

The interview was carried out as part of Operation Diem, which looked into allegations against the former first minister.

Giving evidence on the third day of the trial, the woman also denied she had a consensual sexual encounter with Salmond.

It sounds a much better ending of an evening than what actually happenedWitness to Shelagh McCall QC

Shelagh McCall QC, representing Salmond, claimed on Wednesday the prosecution witness had a consensual sexual encounter with Salmond at Bute House in August 2013.

She said the woman had kissed Salmond and he had kissed her back and she had unbuttoned his shirt and pulled down his trousers.

Ms McCall added: “Mr Salmond says he did have an encounter with you, of a sexual nature with you, but it was in August 2013.”

But giving evidence on the third day of the trial, the woman said: “I have never been a willing participant of Alex Salmond’s advances towards me.”

Ms McCall said the encounter had ended when the woman said to Salmond that she had not “meant this to happen” and they realised they had got “carried away” and it was a mistake.

She added: “I am putting to you that’s exactly what you said at that point.

“The two of you sat up, put your clothes back on, realised it was a mistake.”

But the woman said: “Absolutely not, it sounds a much better ending of an evening than what actually happened.”

  • One attempted rape
  • 11 sexual assaults
  • Two indecent assaults

Ms McCall said the woman had been “embarrassed and upset” but Salmond had told her not to worry about it and she had gone home.

The woman said this was not true.

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 2008 and November 2014, with one sexual assault said to have taken place in the month of the Scottish independence referendum in September 2014.

The trial, before judge Lady Dorrian, continues.

PA