Long-time Scottish political leader charged with attempted rape

Alex Salmond, former First Minister of Scotland leaves Edinburgh Sheriff Court after being charged with attempted rape and 13 other offenses on Jan. 24, 2019, in Edinburgh, Scotland. Getty

London — Former Scottish leader Alex Salmond has been arrested and charged with attempted rape and sexual assault. Salmond, a long-time power player in Scottish politics, was charged with a total of 14 offenses at Edinburgh Sheriff Court on Thursday, which also included breach of the peace and indecent assault.

Salmond, 64, made no plea to the charges in court on Thursday and was released on bail. Outside the courthouse, he insisted he was “innocent of any criminality,” and vowed to defend himself “to the utmost.”

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

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 into the harassment allegations.

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 his opponents on the “remain” side.

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