Friday 18 October, 2019

Updated: Former Scottish leader Salmond charged with attempted rape

FILE - In this Thursday, Sept. 18, 2014 file photo, Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond poses for photographs in Turriff, Scotland. Media in Scotland say the country's former leader, Alex Salmond, has been arrested and charged with an unspecified offense on Thursday Jan. 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Scott Heppell, file)

FILE - In this Thursday, Sept. 18, 2014 file photo, Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond poses for photographs in Turriff, Scotland. Media in Scotland say the country's former leader, Alex Salmond, has been arrested and charged with an unspecified offense on Thursday Jan. 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Scott Heppell, file)

Update January 24, 2019, 11:27 am:

Former Scottish leader Alex Salmond, one of the country's best-known politicians, appeared in court on Thursday on charges including attempted rape and sexual assault.

Salmond was arrested Wednesday and faces 14 charges including nine counts of sexual assault and two of attempted rape.

In a brief statement outside Edinburgh Sheriff Court, Salmond said: "I am innocent of any criminality whatsoever."

"I refute absolutely these allegations of criminality and I will defend myself to the utmost in court," he said.

Salmond stepped down as leader of the governing Scottish National Party in August after sexual harassment allegations were made by two women.

Salmond denied any wrongdoing and sued the Scottish government over its handling of the claims.

Scotland's highest civil court ruled earlier this month that the way the Scottish government handled the allegations against Salmond was unlawful, but that didn't derail the police investigation.

Salmond led the pro-independence SNP for 20 years and headed Scotland's semi-autonomous government as first minister, from 2007 to 2014.

A big figure on the Scottish political stage for decades, he led the 2014 referendum campaign for Scottish independence — a vote won by the "remain" side.

Original story:

Former Scottish leader Alex Salmond has been arrested and charged with an unspecified offense, Scottish authorities and media said Thursday.

Police Scotland said "a 64-year-old man has been arrested and charged" and a report sent to prosecutors. Media outlets identified the arrested man as Salmond.

Police released the statement in response to a request for information about Salmond. They declined to name the man or release further details before a court appearance, expected later Thursday.

Salmond stepped down as leader of the governing Scottish National Party in August after sexual harassment allegations were made by two women. Salmond strongly denies the claims and sued the Scottish government over its handling of the claims.

Scotland's highest civil court ruled earlier this month that the way the Scottish government handled the allegations against Salmond was unlawful, but that didn't derail the police investigation.

Salmond led the pro-independence SNP for 20 years and headed Scotland's semi-autonomous government as first minister, from 2007 to 2014. A big figure on the Scottish political stage for decades, he led the 2014 referendum campaign for Scottish independence — a vote won by the "remain" side.

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