Alex Salmond trial: A look back at every day of former First Minister's court case

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A look back at the 10 day trial of Alex Salmond

Alex Salmond was today acquitted of sexually assaulting nine women while he was Scotland’s First Minister.

Here is a look back at his trial...

Day 1

Former First Minister Alex Salmond leaves the High Court in Edinburgh on day four of his trial. Picture: Lisa FergusonFormer First Minister Alex Salmond leaves the High Court in Edinburgh on day four of his trial. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
Former First Minister Alex Salmond leaves the High Court in Edinburgh on day four of his trial. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

Judge Lady Dorrian warned the jury they must put aside their political opinions and try Mr Salmond only the evidence they hear in court.

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The prosecution opened its case with evidence from former Scottish Government official Woman H who said she felt "hunted" as Alex Salmond sexually assaulted her in two separate incidents in Bute House in the run up to the 2014 independence referendum.

She said Mr Salmond had been "half cut" one evening in May 2014 when they were alone in the sitting room of his official residence. "He was putting his hand down my top and kissing my neck, touching my legs. He just groped me, I don't have another word for it.”

And she described a dinner with a celebrity the following month after which the alleged attempted rape took place. She said he had blocked her exit from the room, then followed here upstairs when she went to get her things. “Then he was suddenly all over me, kissing me, taking my clothes off.” She said he also took his own clothes off and lay naked on top of her on the bed.

She claimed she was eventually able to push him off and he passed out and started snoring.

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She said she did not report what had happened as she "did not want to be considered to be one of his women".

Day 2

The court heard Woman H had contacted SNP headquarters in 2017 to find out the process for reporting what had happened, saying she wanted the matter to be on Mr Salmond’s file.

Shelagh McCall QC, for Mr Salmond, suggested Woman H had not been at the celebrity dinner. She said: "I wish on my life that was true, that's not true. I wish on my life that the First Minister had been a better and nicer man and I wasn't here."

Day 3

Mr Salmond’s defence team claimed Woman H had had a sexual encounter with Mr Salmond, but it was in August 2013 and was consensual and initiated by her.

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Ms McCall claimed the encounter ended when they both realised they had got carried away. Ms McCall said: "The two of you sat up, put your clothes back on, realised it was a mistake." Woman H said: "It sounds a much better end to an evening than what actually happened, but that really is not what happened."

The court was shown a taped interview with the celebrity who was at the dinner with Mr Salmond on the night of the alleged attempted rape. He said there were also two women present and identified one as Woman H.

Woman A, a senior official in the Scottish Government, told the court Mr Salmond had kissed her on the lips and touched her chest and buttocks when they were working together. She said his kisses were “very sloppy and very unpleasant”.

She also described an incident at a nightclub in Edinburgh."He put his hands on my shoulders and ran his hands down the curve of my body, over my hips, commenting 'You look good, you have lost weight'. I was really disturbed he thought it was OK, he thought that was just something he could do to me."

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Woman C, an SNP politician, recalled a journey with the First Minister in the rear of his government car when she said he placed his hand on her knee while her husband was in the front. "I was absolutely gobsmacked that it happened and everything else in the car carried on as normal. and that the First Minister, someone I really looked up to, had done that. I was totally taken aback."Day 4

A civil servant Woman F claimed Mr Salmond had ordered her to "get on the bed" as she made to go home after working late with him at Bute House. She said the former First Minister then lay on top of her and put his hands under her dress - the incident which led to the charge of intent to rape.

“I thought he was going to try to remove my tights and my underwear and he would have been pushing things further physically," she said.

She explained they were working on papers at a table in the bedroom because the rest of Bute House was too cold due to a problem with the heating. She said she had texted a colleague after she left, saying something like

"That's an evening I will need to forget".

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She said after she raised the issue with colleagues Mr Salmond had apologised to her.

Woman G, a Scottish Government official, told how she had been with Alex Salmond and others, including his wife Moira, at the Ubiquitous Chip restaurant in Glasgow and claimed on the way out he had smacked her on the bottom. "It felt demeaning and it made me feel like I was a plaything to him,” she said.

And she said she had felt "trapped" after Mr Salmond insisted she go back with him to Bute House after a dinner t in Edinburgh in April 2014. He had got her to sit next to him on a sofa, made inappropriate remarks, put his arm around her and "leaned in" for a kiss.

Defence counsel Gordon Jackson QC suggested the matter had not been viewed as being very serious. But Woman G said: "It was serious enough for us to change our staffing practices." She said women were no longer to be alone with Mr Salmond in Bute House.Day 5

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Former civil servant Woman K described an event shortly before Mr Salmond stood down as First Minister when people queued up to have their picture taken with him. She said he insisted she also got a photo despite her reluctance because of her neutral role. And she said while the picture was being taken “the First Minister reached down and grabbed hold of my backside”.

She said she had been “mortified” and tried not to show any reaction, but the court was shown a series of photographs of her and Mr Salmond which she said showed her expression changing and her looking "shocked and embarrassed”.

SNP party worker Woman J told the court how she had been working with Alex Salmond in Bute House late one night. She returned from the toilet to find him lying on the floor with papers in front of him. She said he gestured to her to lie down beside him and they worked on the papers. Out of the blue he had asked if she had seen “that zombie movie”.He then pretended to be a zombie, stretching out his arms and taking a couple of clumsy steps towards her. She said he then put his hands on her shoulders and leaned in to kiss her first on one cheek, then on the other and then attempted to kiss her on the lips.

The court also heard from civil servant Woman D, who claimed Mr Salmond sometimes put his hand on her bottom to encourage her to go in front of him. "It made me feel extremely uncomfortable," she said. She estimated it had happened more than ten times in two years.

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She also described how she had once dozed off during a long car journey with the former First Minister and woke to find him stroking her cheek. And she told the court of an incident in a lift when Mr Salmond had reached out to touch her hair but had his hand batted away by another civil servant who was with them.Day 6

Civil servant Woman B told of being left alone with Mr Salmond in the Bute House drawing room when he suggested recreating the pose in a Jack Vettriano painting Ae Fond Kiss. She said he had grabbed her wrists and described resisting his attempts to kiss her as “like wrestling with an octopus”. She said she had been left shocked and alarmed, but feared the incident would have been "swept under the carpet" if she had complained.

Civil servant Christopher Birt told the court staff were “frightened”.of Mr Salmond. He said a culture had been allowed to grow up where people “put up with things”. "For some people it brought on levels of stress that led to mental ill health," he said."Some people stopped working with him.”

Mr Birt and two other civil servants also echoed the earlier evidence that measures were introduced to stop female staff working alone with Mr Salmond in the evenings at Bute House.

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The prosecution closed its case and announced it was withdrawing one of the charges on which no evidence had been led. That left Mr Salmond facing a total of 13 charges involving nine women.Day 7

Alex Salmond took the witness box as Gordon Jackson QC opened the case for the defence.

The former First Minister claimed some of the allegations against him had been deliberately fabricated for political purposes and others exaggerated out of proportion.

He told the court: "I have never attempted to have a non-consensual sexual relationship with anyone during my entire life."

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And he agreed with Mr Jackson that "things that didn't happen" or "innocent things" had been "turned into sexual offences".

Mr Salmond also claimed Woman A had “encouraged at least five other women to exaggerate or make claims against me".Day 8

Businesswoman Samantha Barber claimed Woman H had not been at the dinner with the celebrity in But House on the night of the alleged attempted rape. She said the only people present had been herself, the First Minister and the celebrity.

Former SNP MP Tasmina Ahmed Sheikh, now Mr Salmond's co-presenter on his RT television show, told the court she had been at the event when Woman K claimed the former

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First Minister grabbed hold of her bottom while their photograph was being taken, but said she saw nothing untoward.

Former SNP new media guru Kirk Torrance told the court he had seen Woman J the day after the alleged incident in Bute House but she had not appeared upset and had been retelling a joke Mr Salmond told her.

A former senior civil servant said she had been involved in following up the hair-touching incident in the lift but Woman D had said it was “not something she wanted us to do anything further about".Day 9

Alex Bell, a former special adviser to Alex Salmond, said he was concerned for Woman B’s wellbeing after she was left alone with the former First Minister in the drawing room of Bute House. He said two colleagues had asked him to go back to the room, though he did not recall if he had seen anything that concerned him. Asked what his intention was in returning to the room he said: "To ensure the welfare of my colleague was OK."

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Alex Prentice QC made his closing speech to the jury, describing Mr Salmond as a sexual predator.

He said: "This case is not about plots and political conspiracy, it is about a powerful man who abused his power to satisfy his sexual desires with impunity.

"I suggest Alexander Salmond's conduct over the span of the charges was intimidating, humiliating, degrading and created an offensive environment.

"The complainers are courageous, brave women who spoke up to call out the abusive conduct of the former first minister.”Day 10

Gordon Jackson QC delivers his closing speech