Former Scottish leader Alex Salmond charged with attempted rape, sexual assault

Former Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond on Thursday denied committing any crimes after appearing in court on multiple sex offenses include two counts of attempted rape.

Salmond, who was Scotland's leader from 2007-2014 and took the country to the brink of independence, says he is “innocent of any criminality whatsoever.”

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“I refute absolutely these allegations of criminality and I will defend myself to the utmost in court,” he said outside Edinburgh Sheriff Court. “I would love to say a great deal more but I’ve got to observe the rules of the court and in court is where I will state my case.”

There are 14 charges against the 64-year-old who has been released on bail. He is accused of two charges of attempted rape, nine of sexual assault, two of indecent assault and one breach of the peace.

Speaking earlier in the day, Nicola Sturgeon, who succeeded Salmond as First Minister, said: “Obviously this news this morning will be a shock to many people.

"But as Police Scotland have made clear this morning these are now live criminal proceedings. That means now, more than ever, it would be completely inappropriate for me or anybody else for that matter to make any comment on the situation.”

Salmond, a towering force in British politics for more than three decades, resigned from the Scottish National Party in August amid an investigation into claims he harassed two members of his staff when he was first minister in 2013.

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At the time, he said he was quitting to prevent division in the party. He also rejected “any suggestion of criminality” and said he would sue the government over the way they handled the complaints against him.

The criminal charges against Salmond come two weeks after he won a legal battle with the Scottish government over an investigation into the two complaints.

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Fox News’ Chris Irvine contributed to this report.