Ex-Scottish leader Alex Salmond denies sex assault charges

International

Former Scottish leader Alex Salmond speaks to the media after leaving the High Court in Edinburgh, Thursday Nov. 21, 2019. Salmond, one of the country’s best-known politicians, appeared in court faces a total of 14 charges of attempted rape, sexual assault and indecent assault against 10 women. (Andrew Milligan/PA via AP)

LONDON (AP) — Former Scottish leader Alex Salmond, one of the country’s best-known politicians, appeared in court on Thursday accused of sex crimes including attempting to rape a woman at the leader’s official residence.

Salmond faces a total of 14 charges — one of attempted rape, 11 alleged sexual assaults and two alleged indecent assaults — against 10 women.

The attempted rape allegedly took place in June 2014 at Bute House, the Scottish first minister’s house in Edinburgh.

He denies the allegations. Salmond’s lawyer entered a plea of not guilty to all the charges at a court hearing Thursday. The trial is scheduled to start March 9.

“I am innocent and I will defend my position vigorously,” the 64-year-old Salmond said outside Edinburgh’s High Court.

Salmond led the pro-independence Scottish National Party for 20 years and headed Scotland’s semi-autonomous government as its first minister from 2007 to 2014.

A major figure on the Scottish political stage for decades, he took Scotland to the verge of independence from the U.K. by holding a 2014 referendum. He stepped down as leader after the “remain” side won the vote 55% to 45%.

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