Scotland's ex-first minister Alex Salmond charged with attempted rape, sexual assault; was face of independence campaign

London: 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.

Scotlands ex-first minister Alex Salmond charged with attempted rape, sexual assault; was face of independence campaign

File image of Alex Salmond. AP

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.

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

Scotland's highest civil court ruled earlier in January 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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Updated Date: Jan 24, 2019 22:09:25 IST

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