The trial of Alex Salmond, who is accused of carrying out a series of sexual offences against 10 women while serving as Scotland’s first minister, will begin on 9 March.
The date was confirmed when Mr Salmond appeared at a procedural hearing at the High Court in Edinburgh on Wednesday.
Mr Salmond denies all 14 charges against him, which include one attempted rape and one intent to rape.
He is also accused of 10 sexual assaults and two indecent assaults.
The offences are alleged to have happened between June 2008 and November 2014. Mr Salmond, 65, served as first minister between 16 May 2007 and 20 November 2014.
The procedural hearing saw legal arguments being made by Mr Salmond’s lawyers and prosecutors, which cannot be reported for legal reasons. There are not expected to be any further hearings before the trial begins.
What is Mr Salmond accused of?
The charges are set out in an indictment which includes the specific details of the allegations against the 64-year-old former SNP leader.
The attempted rape is said to have happened in June 2014 at the first minister’s official Bute House residence in Edinburgh. He is alleged to have pinned a woman against a wall and to have removed her clothes and his own, before pushing her onto a bed and lying naked on top of her.
The other 13 charges allege that:
- Indecently assaulted a woman on a number of occasions in Glasgow in June and July 2008 by kissing her on the mouth and touching her buttocks and breasts with his hands over her clothing
- Sexually assaulted the same woman in December 2010 or December 2011 in the Ego nightclub in Edinburgh by touching her arms and hips with his hands over her clothing
- Indecently assaulted a woman in October or November 2010 at Bute House by repeatedly seizing her by the wrists and repeatedly pulling her towards him and attempting to kiss her
- Sexually assaulted a woman in a car in Edinburgh in February 2011 by touching her leg with his hand over her clothing
- Sexually assaulted a woman on various occasions between 2011 and 2013 at Bute House, the Scottish Parliament and other locations by touching her buttocks with his hands over her clothing, stroking her arms, and touching and stroking her hair
- Sexually assaulted a woman at Bute House in October 2013 by removing her foot from her shoe, stroking her foot, lifting her foot towards his mouth and attempting to kiss her foot
- Sexually assaulted a woman at Bute House in November or December 2013 by kissing her on the mouth
- Intended to rape the same woman in December 2013 at Bute House by causing her to sit on a bed, lying on top of her, making sexual remarks to her, touching her buttocks, thighs and breasts over her clothing with his hands, repeatedly kissing her face, struggling with her and pulling up her dress
- Sexually assaulted a woman in 2012 at the Ubiquitous Chip restaurant in Glasgow by touching her buttocks with his hand over her clothing
- Sexually assaulted the same woman at Bute House in April 2014 by placing his arm around her, making sexual remarks to her and attempting to kiss her
- Sexually assaulted a woman at Bute House in May 2014 by placing his arm around her body, placing his hand under her clothing and underwear and touching her breast, repeatedly kissing her on the face and neck and stroking her leg with his hand
- Sexually assaulted a woman at Bute House in September 2014 by seizing her by the shoulders, repeatedly kissing her on the face, attempting to kiss her on the lips and touching her leg and face with his hand
- Sexually assaulted a woman at Stirling Castle in November 2014 by touching her buttock with his hand over her clothing
What is a preliminary hearing?
Preliminary hearings take place in High Court cases to ensure that both sides are ready for the trial to take place.
The aim is to ensure avoid cases being adjourned and then dragging on too long.
The hearings follow a similar format, with the defence and the Crown taking turns to set out how prepared they are for trial. They will say if they believe any evidence can be agreed in advance, and mention any special measures which might be required for witnesses. The Crown will also estimate the likely length of the trial.
If the defence plans to challenge the leading of any evidence at trial, this should be raised at preliminary hearing. The court may order an additional evidential hearing so a ruling can be made before the start of the trial.
The judge needs to be satisfied that the case can go ahead without any last minute hiccups before agreeing to set a date for the trial.
This can either be a fixed diet, where one specific date is set, or a date will be selected with the proviso that it will “float” for a number of days. For example, if a date was set for 20 March and it was to float for four days, the trial must begin no later than 24 March.
Alex Salmond’s political career
- He was twice leader of the SNP, and led the party into government at Holyrood in 2007
- Mr Salmond left office after the 2014 Scottish independence referendum, with his former deputy Nicola Sturgeon taking his place in Bute House
- He returned to Westminster as an MP the following year, but lost his Gordon seat in the snap election in 2017
- Mr Salmond has since worked as a talk show host on Russian network RT
- He quit the SNP when launching his legal action against the Scottish government in 2018