Alex Salmond will go on trial next year facing a string of sexual and indecent assault allegations including one charge of attempted rape in which he is said to have pinned a woman to a bed in the First Minister’s official residence in Edinburgh.
The former SNP leader faces a total of 14 charges - one of attempted rape, one of intent to rape, 10 of sexual assault and two of indecent assault.
The alleged offences, which Mr Salmond has strenuously denied, involve 10 women and are said to have taken place between June 2008 and November 2014, when he was Scotland’s first minister. He stepped down in November 2014 after losing the Scottish independence referendum.
Nine incidents are said to have happened in Bute House in Edinburgh’s Charlotte Square, which is currently occupied by Nicola Sturgeon, Mr Salmond’s successor. The trial is due to start on March 9 and will last four weeks.
One charge details an alleged incident on the esplanade of Stirling Castle and another was said to have taken place in the Ubiquitous Chip restaurant in the west end of Glasgow.
Mr Salmond is accused, in a lengthy indictment, of attempting to rape one woman in summer 2014 in Bute House by repeatedly blocking her path, pinning her against a wall, removing her clothing and underwear and pushing her on to a bed.
The charge adds that “you did…push her onto a bed, kneel over her, pin her to the bed by her shoulder, lie naked on top of her, cause your erect penis to touch her body and you did attempt to rape her”.
Another charge states that in late 2014 he made another woman sit on a bed in Bute House, lay on top of her, touched her buttocks, thighs and breasts over her clothing, repeatedly kissed her face, struggled with her and pulled up her dress “with intent to rape her”.
The earliest charge facing Mr Salmond, who lost his seat in the 2017 general election, alleges that on various occasions in summer 2008 he indecently assaulted a woman by kissing her on the mouth and touching her buttocks and breast with his hands over her clothing.
In late 2013, also at Bute House, he is said to have sexually assaulting a woman by removing her foot from her shoe, stroking her foot, lifting her foot towards his mouth and attempting to kiss her foot.
Speaking outside court following the hearing, Mr Salmond said he was not permitted to "say too much" but a defence statement had been lodged with the court pleading not guilty to all charges.
He said it explained "some of the circumstances in which they've come about." Mr Salmond did he also did not want to say anything that could influence the general election campaign.
But he added: "We are now into our second year of court actions, first civil, now criminal. It's over 10 months since we won the civil action.
"I'm innocent and I will defend my position vigorously. But the only proper place to answer criminal charges is in this court and that's exactly what we intend to do next spring."
He said questions from the media would have to "wait for another day" and departed for discussions with his legal team.
Following an earlier hearing at Edinburgh Sheriff Court in January Mr Salmond said he refuted the allegations “absolutely”.
He will be represented by the leader of the Scottish bar, Gordon Jackson QC, Dean of the Faculty of Advocates, and Shelagh McCall QC.
He previously won a civil case against the Scottish Government over a botched probe into allegations made against him. The Government admitted its procedures had been flawed and paid out more than £500,000 in legal expenses.
Mr Salmond led the SNP for 20 years in two stints and took the party from the fringes to political dominance north of the border.
He was first minister from 2007 until 2014, when he failed to achieve his political dream of breaking-up Britain in the 2014 referendum.
Mr Salmond, 64, lives with his wife Moira, 81, in a converted mill in the Aberdeenshire village of Strichen. The couple have been married 37 years. He now hosts a chat show for the Russian television broadcaster RT.
Twelve of the charges he faces relate to the Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2009, which his government introduced.