Alex Salmond acquitted of all 14 charges in sexual offences trial
Alex Salmond spoke out outside court after walking free (PA)
Alex Salmond has been acquitted of all charges following his trial for sexual assault.
Scotland's former First Minister was found not guilty at the High Court in Edinburgh of all but one of the 14 counts against him.
The jury returned a verdict of "not proven" on the one remaining charge.
The 65-year-old had denied all of the allegations, which were brought by nine women who had been working for the Scottish Government or the SNP at the time he was First Minister.
Giving evidence, Mr Salmond said some of the claims were "deliberate fabrications for a political purpose”.
Speaking outside court, Mr Salmond said the verdict had “reinforced” his faith in the Scottish justice system.
He hinted that he intends to say more on the circumstances of his prosecution at a later date, but that now was not the time because of the coronavirus outbreak.
"There is certain evidence that I would have liked to have seen led in this trial but for a variety of reasons we were not able to do so,” he said.
"Those facts will see the light, but it won't be this day.”
The former SNP leader added: “Whatever nightmare I’ve been in over these last two years, it’s as of nothing compared to the nightmare that every one of us is current living through.
“People are dying, many more are going to die, what we’re doing just now - and i know you’ve got a job to do - it’s not safe.
“And my strong strong advice to you is to go home, those who can, who are able to, take care of your families and God help us all.”
The verdict is set to lead to a civil war within the SNP, with supporters of Mr Salmond already calling for heads to roll over his treatment.
Following the verdict, SNP MP Kenny McAskill tweeted: “Delighted for Alex Salmond. Some resignations now required.”
In a statement, fellow SNP Joanna Cherry said: “I am very pleased that Alex Salmond has been acquitted of these charges.
“Those of us who know him, and indeed many of the thousands of people ho have met him over the years, did not recognise the man described int he evidence led for the Crown.”
She said there were now serious questions over how the investigations were handled, and called for an inquiry by the Scottish Parliament, as well as an “independent inquiry into how the SNP dealt with these allegations”.
Ms Cherry added: “In the meantime, it goes without saying that Mr Salmond must be allowed to re-join the party without delay, if that is what he wishes to do, and that his place in the party’s history must be restored to to the prominence it deserves."