Ex-Scottish first minister Alex Salmond charged with attempted rape
Former Scottish first minister Alex Salmond has appeared in court charged with attempted rape and sexual assault.
He faced a total of 14 charges at Edinburgh Sheriff Court, also including breach of the peace and indecent assault.
The 64-year-old made no plea during the hearing and was released on bail.
Outside court, Mr Salmond said he was "innocent of any criminality" and added that he would defend himself "to the utmost".
Police had been investigating following a Scottish government inquiry into complaints of sexual harassment against Mr Salmond.
Mr Salmond, who was first minister from 2007 to 2014, was interviewed by police on Wednesday.
He arrived at the court shortly before 14:00 on Thursday for a short hearing, which took place in private.
Mr Salmond was accused of two charges of attempted rape, nine of sexual assault, two of indecent assault and one breach of the peace.
Speaking outside the court following the hearing, the former MP and MSP said: "Now that these proceedings, criminal proceedings, are live it is important to respect the court.
"And therefore, the only thing I can say is I refute absolutely these allegations of criminality and I'll defend myself to the utmost in court."
No date has yet been fixed for the next hearing in the case.
The news comes two weeks after Mr Salmond was at the Court of Session in Edinburgh, where the Scottish government conceded that its internal investigation of complaints against him was flawed.
The former first minister had launched a judicial review against the government he once led over how it had handled its inquiry, saying he had been treated unfairly.
That case was focused on the government's processes, not the substance of the complaints - which Mr Salmond has denied.
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