Alex Salmond says there was ‘no policy’ stopping him working alone with women

Alex Salmond

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PA Media

Alex Salmond has denied claims that female civil servants were not allowed to work alone with him while he was Scotland’s first minister.

The former SNP leader was speaking as he gave evidence from the witness box at the High Court in Edinburgh.

His trial has heard that the civil service took steps in 2014 to prevent him being left alone with women in his Bute House residence.

But Mr Salmond insisted that “there was no policy” like that.

He also claimed that some of the allegations made against him were “deliberate fabrications for a political purpose” while others were “exaggerations” of what had actually happened.

Mr Salmond denies 13 charges of sexual assault against nine women.

The alleged offences are all said to have happened when he was serving as Scotland’s first minister.

Mr Salmond was cleared of a further charge of sexual assault against a 10th woman after it was dropped by the Crown when the prosecution case ended on Monday afternoon.

Giving evidence in his own defence on Tuesday morning, Mr Salmond said he had been surrounded by a large team of civil servants when he was first minister.

He said the working environment was very different to other areas of the civil service as there was an “informality” and a “blurring of the normal social-professional boundaries”.

He said this was because it was a high-pressure, 24/7 operation where people were “living out of each other’s pockets”.

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Defence lawyer Gordon Jackson QC is representing Mr Salmond

The court was told on Monday by civil servants Chis Birt and Michael McIlhenny that steps were taken to prevent women having to work alone with the first minister after two female colleagues complained about alleged incidents involving Mr Salmond.

But Mr Birt said he did not believe the policy was ever formally written down.

When asked by his lawyer Gordon Jackson QC whether he had been aware of such a policy, Mr Salmond replied: “No I was not. There was no policy like the one described.”

Mr Salmond says he is innocent of all the allegations against him.

He has entered not guilty pleas to all 13 of the charges which he still faces, which include one charge of attempted rape, one of sexual assault with intent to rape, nine sexual assaults and two indecent assaults.

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