James Doleman reports from the trial of the former Scottish First Minister, who stands accused of sexual assault and attempted rape.
A jury today heard the lawyer of Alex Salmond suggest that there was a “pattern” in the accusations of sexual assault and attempted rape against him, in that “every single complainer in this trial is in the political bubble”.
Defence counsel Gordon Jackson QC, the Dean of the Faculty of Scottish Advocates, opened by telling the jury that the key question was whether Salmond’s behaviour had been criminal. Some of the charges were things “that no one thought were serious at the time, but now there are criminal charges in the High Court, it’s odd,” he said.
Addressing one of the charges of attempted rape, the lawyer said that there was a divergence between what both parties said had happened, although both agreed that when the woman in question said “stop”, the accused did. “How could that possibly be intention to rape?” Jackson asked the jurors.
“Proof beyond a reasonable doubt is not… impossible, but it’s high,” he added. “There cannot be guilt in these matters just because someone could have been a better man.”
Jackson went through the details of another charge against Salmond, arguing that the complainer could not have been present on the night in question and suggesting that she was bitter about Salmond not backing her to become an election candidate. “Is that it?” Mr Jackson asked. “I don’t know, I can’t prove it, but I can smell it, there’s something wrong. He behaved badly, I’m not here to defend him, but attempted rape? It doesn’t fit.”
The lawyer said he apologised for calling the other charges “trivial”, but that they were incidents no one had thought anything about at the time, quoting one woman who had said in her evidence: “We just excused it because that how he was”. “Yet now, hey presto, it’s a crime,” Jackson said.
“This is a victims world we’re in, this is the modern day,” he added. “It’s all revisionism,” he said about another charge. “He could be inappropriate, he could be a bugger to work for,” Jackson said, but that was not the issue the jury had to consider.
The defence advocate then turned his attention to the testimony of another witness, who he described as a “powerful figure” and whose evidence appeared “devious”. He told the jury that the incidents this witness alleged happened took place before “hundreds of people… every eye was on him and he supposedly commits a sexual assault? These charges, when you look at them, don’t make any sense.”
“This stinks, it absolutely stinks,” Mr Jackson added.
The advocate concluded by telling the jury that “there is a pattern” – but not the one the prosecution had suggested. “Somewhere along the line there was pressure, after 30 years of public service, all of a sudden this happens, I don’t know what’s going on, but every single complainer in this trial is in the political bubble,” Jackson said.
Looking at Salmond, the lawyer added: “No person is above the law, but equally no person is below the law either. I don’t care if you don’t like him or not, he’s the Marmite man, but he’s entitled to the law’s protection. This has gone on long enough, it’s time to bring this to an end.”
He then sat down.
Alex Salmond denies all of the charges. The trial continues.