Tue 11 May 2021

James Doleman reports from the trial of the former First Minister of Scotland, who is charged with sexual assault and attempted rape.

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A woman, who has testified that she was sexually assaulted by the former Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond, lied about attending a dinner at his official residence on the night of the alleged incident, the jury in his trial heard today.

The woman – who cannot be named for legal reasons – said that she was attacked after a dinner with a celebrity in 2014. However, another witness – company director Samantha Barber – said that she was at the dinner and there were only three people present: herself, Salmond and the celebrity. “I absolutely genuinely have no recollection of seeing her,” she said.

Edinburgh’s High Court also heard from a former Member of Parliament, Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh, who said that, in 2015, a woman who alleges that she was assaulted by Salmond in 2014 sent her a text message about a political project in which she said that “it would be great to work with Alex again”. Screenshots of this were shown to the jury. 

It also heard from a succession of witnesses who gave a very different picture of what life was like working for the politician, compared to the prosecution’s case. 

A former civil servant – who worked closely with Salmond – said that, while the job was “incredibly demanding”, the former First Minister himself “had good and bad moods” and was “very committed, very driven, had high standards for himself and us”. Another said that he was “challenging, but inspiring”.

Asked about Salmond’s approach, another witness said: “He was very tactile and approachable, he would hug people in the street, embracing people at bus stops.” At conferences, he said “there were hugs and kisses for everyone”. He testified that he had never seen the accused be sexually inappropriate.

The court also heard that Salmond had a meeting with the current Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon about a number of the allegations in 2019.

Alex Salmond denies all of the charges. The trial continues. 

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