Alex Salmond maintains innocence after being charged with alleged sexual assault and attempted rape

The former first minister made the statement following his arrest and appearance at Edinburgh Sheriff Court

-          Alex Salmond faces 14 charges, including attempted rape, sexual assault, indecent assault and breach of the peace

-          Salmond said following the hearing: "I have always maintained that I have never engaged in criminality and that remains my position.”

-          First Minister Nicola Sturgeon commented that due to criminal proceedings now being live, “it would be completely inappropriate for me or anyone else for that matter to make any comment on the situation.”

FORMER first minister Alex Salmond has reiterated his claim that he “never engaged in criminality”, following the revelation that he faces 14 charges including attempted rape and sexual assault.

Salmond, who was arrested on 23 January, appeared in private at Edinburgh Sheriff Court today, where he made no formal plea. He faces two charges of alleged attempted rape, nine alleging sexual assault, two alleging indecent assault and one alleging breach of the peace.

Following the hearing, Salmond made a statement outside court, in which he said he “absolutely refutes” any criminal allegations against him.

Salmond said: "In September, shortly after I became aware of a police investigation, my solicitors wrote on my instruction to Police Scotland indicating that I was happy to meet them.

"Yesterday, by prior agreement and consistent with my previous offers, I voluntarily attended a police station with my solicitor. I co-operated fully with the police. I was released by the police after interview and agreed to attend court today.

“Given that the case is live, I am obviously not able to say anything more at this stage other than to reiterate that I absolutely refute any allegations of criminality." Former first minister Alex Salmond

"I have always maintained that I have never engaged in criminality and that remains my position. I said throughout the Judicial Review that it would be inappropriate to comment further until the conclusion of that case and I did not do so until I gave my full statement on the steps of the Court of Session two weeks ago.

"Faithful to that principle, and given that the case is live, I am obviously not able to say anything more at this stage other than to reiterate that I absolutely refute any allegations of criminality."

Although Salmond made no reference to the charges facing him, they were released today by the Crown Office and reported on widely in the media.

Salmond has previously been under investigation by Police Scotland, following a confidential Scottish Government investigation into allegations that he engaged in sexual harassment of two women several years ago. The Scottish Government’s final report on this was sent to police in August of 2018.

READ MORE: The Salmond row: What we know, what we need to know, and what happens now

In the aftermath of the allegations of sexual harassment becoming public in August, Salmond has consistently denied being guilty of any criminal behaviour, and has previously stated that he attempted to resolve the claims made by the two women in question through mediation and arbitration.

After news of Salmond’s arrest broke, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon told press prior to today’s First Minister’s Questions that the development would be “a shock to many people”.

Sturgeon added: “These are now live criminal proceedings and that means now more than ever it would be completely inappropriate for me or anyone else for that matter to make any comment on the situation.”

Scottish Parliament Presiding Officer Ken Macintosh offered similar warnings today ahead of FMQs, telling MSPs: "Members will be aware of reports in the media this morning that the former first minister Alex Salmond has been arrested.

"As I hope members will also be aware, and as applies with all such matters, that means that parliamentary rules on sub-judice apply as this case is now active."

Earlier this month, Salmond won a legal victory against the Scottish Government, after it was admitted by the civil service that its investigation into the two harassment claims had been mishandled.

Picture courtesy of the Scottish Government

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