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The Great Salmond Sex Scandal


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And there is more....

 

In short: nobody ever accused an octopus of having good taste

 

 

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Alex Salmond trial: Salmond was like an octopus with his hands, claims accuser

Mike Wade

Tuesday March 17 2020, 12.01am, The Times

 

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/scotland/alex-salmond-trial-salmond-was-like-an-octopus-with-his-hands-claims-accuser-vv7f5c2qg

 

Alex Salmond tried to recreate the “sexualised” image on a proposed Christmas card, the court was told

 

A civil servant has told a court that she would have lost her job had she complained about an alleged sexual incident involving Alex Salmond.

The woman said that fighting off the former SNP leader was like “wrestling with an octopus” as he tried to pull her into his embrace to recreate the “sexualised” image on a proposed Christmas card.

The picture, by Jack Vettriano, was displayed on a screen at the High Court in Edinburgh and showed a woman dressed in a short, silky “Santa” dress looking up into the eyes of a dominant male lover, as if about to kiss him.

Identified as Woman B to protect her identity, the civil servant said she had finally broken free when a male colleague returned to the drawing room in Bute House.

Though she raised the alleged incident with a colleague the following day, she decided not to lodge a complaint “because of the relationship between the civil service and the first minister”.

Woman B said: “I felt if I made a formal complaint and took things further, I would be the problem and be removed and I’d worked really hard.”

She was speaking on the sixth day of Mr Salmond’s trial. He denies 13 charges of alleged sexual offences against nine women and was cleared of a further charge yesterday after it was dropped by the Crown.

Woman B, who gave evidence from behind a screen, said that in October or November 2010 she had been gathering up papers at the end of an evening meeting at the former first minister’s official residence when he allegedly said: “Let’s try to recreate the pose on the Christmas card.”

She went on: “He grabbed my wrists and pulled me towards him. I was shocked. I kept trying physically to get his hands off. I felt like every time I got a hand off, another would appear. He was very persistent. I felt like I was wrestling with an octopus . . . He was leaning in to try and kiss me. I really didn’t want that to happen. Because he said ‘let’s recreate the pose on the Christmas card’ I knew it was a sexualised approach.”

In the aftermath, Woman B said she reported the alleged incident to a female colleague and to her husband, and immediately threw out a charity wristband she had been wearing because “I felt like it was contaminated”.

Cross-examined by Shelagh McCall, QC, for Mr Salmond, she said: “I think if I had complained it would have been swept under the carpet. I think I would have suffered in my career, I would have been removed as I never saw anyone in senior office in the Scottish government challenge Alex Salmond about his behaviour.”

Ms McCall suggested the alleged incident was “high jinks”.

Woman B said: “It was 11pm in Bute House, I don’t think that can be described as ‘high jinks’.” She added: “I think my colleague was shocked and quite surprised, I think he said ‘Ms B, are you OK?”

Christopher Birt, a civil servant, later told the court he would not have trusted the civil service to handle “sensitive” complaints against Mr Salmond that he received in the run-up to the independence referendum.

Gordon Jackson, QC, for the defence suggested there had never been “any thought” at the time of contacting the police about Mr Salmond’s behaviour towards women.

Mr Birt replied: “The culture built up over a number of years. None of the women felt like they wanted to complain, we felt in a very difficult position where it was difficult for us to do anything further because the civil service had allowed this to build up over time.”

The Crown case concluded. Mr Salmond, 65, of Strichen, Aberdeenshire, is expected to testify this morning when his defence case opens.

He denies all the charges.

Edited by Uilleam
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.....and....

 

In short: tactile, and not tactful

 

Alex Salmond trial: No-nonsense judge keeps everyone on their toes

Magnus Linklater

Tuesday March 17 2020, 12.01am, The Times

 

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/scotland/alex-salmond-trial-no-nonsense-judge-keeps-everyone-on-their-toes-nl0lq68rm

 

Judge Leeona Dorrian presides over the Salmond trial in a no-nonsense manner that has kept everyone on their toes. She deals with the 15-person jury like a maiden aunt called in to ensure the children behave, warning them about the rule that says you must not talk about the trial, even relatives and close family — especially, she hinted, relatives and close family.

She ticks off witnesses who stray from the point, telling them that the court wants them to answer directly rather than offer opinions, and she insists that they speak slowly. “Everyone in this country speaks too quickly,” she complained.

 

She is keen to keep things moving — a bit too keen it seemed yesterday. As soon as she had taken her seat, she turned to Alex Prentice, for the prosecution, and asked, “Advocate Depute?” expecting him to call his next witness. Alas, she had forgotten to summon the jury. “Too hasty,” she smiled, as they dutifully filed in.

As lord justice clerk, she holds the second most senior judicial post in Scotland, and she is punctilious about how she addresses counsel for the prosecution, calling them by their official titles, and instilling a respectful response, even from the free-ranging defence counsel Gordon Jackson. Unlike many judges, she seldom intervenes, and then only to seek clarification, not to introduce her opinion. This she regards as a point of honour. In a previous appeal case, she observed: “If a judge intervenes . . . during the examination of a witness, there is a danger that an observer might conclude that he was engaging in cross-examination, or was seeking to undermine the testimony.”

Whether it is due to her presence, or simply the rapid turnover of witnesses, this trial appears to be heading for a speedier conclusion than once anticipated.

 

Yesterday we heard a succession of (male) civil servants describing the dilemma of investigating allegations of abuse against their (female) colleagues. Civil service procedures were not in place, it appeared, which would allow them to pursue complaints through agreed channels.

 

Mr Jackson asked if Mr Salmond could be “angry”. “Yes, he could be angry,” came the reply. “Could he make his anger known?” “Yes, he could.” “And in that kind of atmosphere, did you learn to live with it?” The answer: “That’s how it was.” Working with the first minister was, it appears, a pressurised affair, with behaviour that could be “inappropriate on occasion” as Mr Jackson conceded. “He was overly tactile,” suggested the witness. “So did people just shrug their shoulders?” No, but “it brought on high levels of stress”, as Christopher Birt, one of the first minister’s private secretaries, admitted. “We developed a kind of gallows humour to deal with it.”

 

Complaints, however, had to be investigated, and there was no formal way of handling them. “I wouldn’t have trusted civil service procedures,” said Mr Birt. So have they improved since then, he was asked. “I’m not sure we have got much better,” came the bleak reply.

 

In the event, one of the private secretaries, Joseph Griffin, agreed to go and see the first minister in his office. “I said the matter was very sensitive,” Mr Griffin said. “I presented him with what had been relayed to me.” Not much, it seemed, happened as a result, except for a decision to change the rota so no woman was left alone with him at night in Bute House. Which is where we were left — in the corridors of power, where so much of this trial is being played out.

 

Mr Salmond denies all the charges against him and the trial continues.

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Salmond leaps to his own defence.

 

In short:

"I'm just a soul whose intentions are good,

Oh, Lord, please don't let me be misunderstood",

aka The Fat Man's Burden (well, he's no Burdon).

 

From The Guardian

 

Alex Salmond tells court charges are fabrications or exaggerations

Former first minister of Scotland faces charges of attempted rape, sexual and indecent assault

Severin Carrell Scotland editor

 @severincarrell

Tue 17 Mar 2020 16.47 GMTFirst published on Tue 17 Mar 2020 15.19 GMT

 

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2020/mar/17/alex-salmond-tells-court-charges-are-fabrications-or-exaggerations

 

Alex Salmond told a court that numerous charges of sexual and indecent assault, and a charge of attempted rape against him were deliberate fabrications or exaggerated.

The former first minister of Scotland, who denies the charges against him, told the high court in Edinburgh the 13 charges he faces of attempted rape, sexual assaults and indecent assaults on nine women were false or based on misinterpretation.

Originally indicted on 14 charges, he was formally acquitted of one sexual assault after the charge was dropped by the prosecution on Monday.

Speaking for the first time in his defence, Salmond told his lawyer, Gordon Jackson QC, with hindsight he wished he had been “more careful with people’s personal space”, but added that many incidents were “being reinterpreted and exaggerated out of any possible proportion”.

Asked by Jackson why some charges were exaggerations, the former Scottish National party leader said: “Some, not all, are fabrications. They’re deliberate fabrications for political purposes.

“Some are exaggerations that are taken out of proportion and I think that the impact of some of the publicity of the last 18 months might have led some people quite innocently to revise their opinions and say: ‘Oh well something happened to me’ and it gets presented in a totally different way.”

Salmond is accused of sexual assault with intent to rape against one complainer, the Scottish legal term for complainant, known as F, who cannot be named for legal reasons. Salmond told the jury the incident at Bute House, the first minister’s official residence in Edinburgh, was based on “a legitimate grievance even if it isn’t what happened”.

Salmond denied F’s allegations that in December 2013 in one of Bute House’s bedrooms he had ordered the complainer to lie on the bed, sexually assaulted her by touching her across her body over her clothing, pulling up her dress and kissing her repeatedly after getting drunk on a potent Chinese spirit.

Salmond admitted he and F drank the spirit, known as Maotai, but claimed they shared the bottle during a long work session on government papers. One box of papers involved documents from a recent visit to China and Hong Kong and he told the court: “I thought it would be appropriate to toast the correspondence with Maotai.”

He claimed they became tipsy, and as F prepared to leave he kissed her on the cheek before they fell on to the bed in a “sleepy cuddle”, fully dressed, “for no more than a few seconds”. They both immediately realised they had made a mistake, he added, and he said she later accepted his apology after she reported the encounter to a senior civil servant.

“I have never attempted to have non-consensual sexual relations with anyone in my entire life,” Salmond said.

He also made a counter-allegation against complainer H, a former Scottish government official, who has accused him of attempting to rape her during a violent encounter at Bute House in June 2014 and of a sexual assault in the same building the previous month.

H alleged Salmond had insisted they drank Maotai together. The former first minister told the court H had made both incidents up. He told the court they had had “a consensual sexual liaison” which took place in August 2013, which H had initiated.

They had kissed and caressed each other, he said, but without undressing. “We both realised it wasn’t a good idea and we parted good friends, with no damage done,” he told the court.

He said allegations by one senior Scottish government official, known as complainer A, that in 2008 he had touched her buttocks and the side of her breasts, as well as kissing her on the mouth, are “a fabrication from start to finish”.

A’s allegation he had assaulted her while they danced in a nightclub in 2010 was “ludicrous”, he said. He would never have assaulted her but this was also a very public venue, and they did not dance together. “It’s a fabrication, just as she has encouraged at least five other people to exaggerate or make claims against me,” he told the court.

He was asked five times by the prosecutor, Alex Prentice QC, whether he considered the feelings of another civil servant, B, who accused him of trying to force her to reenact a Jack Vettriano painting of two people kissing by pulling her towards him.

Salmond replied: “I assumed she would find the circumstances as funny [as] I did.” He had earlier told Jackson: “It was a joke, high jinks, it was a bit of fun,” he said. B had “misremembered” the event, he added.

Salmond told jurors there was frequently “blurring of the normal professional-social boundaries” between him and staff in his private office, because they worked together round the clock, in a high pressure working environment.

During his cross-examination, Prentice repeatedly asked Salmond, now 65, whether he had considered the large age gap between himself and the female officials he has been accused of assaulting, who were in their 20s and 30s at the time.

Salmond said the age gap was irrelevant as any familiar conduct was “non-sexual”. Salmond insisted he respected women and repeatedly denied the prosecutor’s assertions that the allegations against him were correct.

He admitted stroking the face of complainer D, a civil servant, several times as she slept beside him in a car during a visit to Hong Kong; he did so because he was trying to gently wake her up. He said he pulled D’s curly hair several times too, as a friendly gesture, and had tapped another complainer, J, a former Scottish National party employee, on the nose.

The hearing continues.

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Magnus Linklater in The Times

 

ALEX SALMOND TRIAL | SKETCH

march 18 2020, 12:01am, the times

The bravado of old was barely in evidence

magnus linklater

 

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/scotland/the-bravado-of-old-was-barely-in-evidence-l8f03qqv3

 

He took the stand with some of that familiar bravado. The Saltire tie was back in place and the suit had been carefully pressed.

He is pale-faced and has lost some weight, but he still carries that air of political self-assurance we remember so well. Alex Salmond may be fighting for his reputation and his professional future, but even in the High Court, subjected to cross-examination on the most intimate details of his private life, he reminded us that once he had been Scotland’s first minister and the most powerful figure in the land.

 

Questioned by the defence counsel Gordon Jackson, QC, who has smartened himself up considerably, with a haircut and a relatively clean shave, he described himself as “journalist, TV presenter and retired politician”.

Mr Jackson took him through his political career, beginning at university, when politics took precedence over exams, his election as an MP, MSP and at times both, a man who bestrode Westminster and Holyrood with ease. We were told of his rise to power as leader of the SNP, the election victories of 2007 and 2011, his time as first minister and the transfer of leadership to his successor, Nicola Sturgeon.

 

This was an Alex Salmond more restrained and low-key than he had ever been in his heyday. He was punctilious towards the judge, referring to her respectfully as “my lady”, he deferred to counsel and apologised when he misheard a question. He even coughed discreetly into his elbow, in the required anti-viral manner. The court was witnessing a different Salmond from the first minister we knew.

His manner grew more confident as he described the places he had worked, including St Andrew’s House, the Scottish parliament and Bute House, surrounded by a staff of 20 or more, in an atmosphere “quite unlike anything else in government”, as he put it, “working 24/7 and living out of their pockets, with people knitted together and more informal than the civil service or any other environment”.

 

He spread out his arms as he recalled the “blurring of the normal boundaries between social and professional life” and the pressure that went with the job. He recalled the prestige that was attached to working in his office and how it was viewed as a fast track to other jobs. Not many people, however, could take the pace for more than two years.

Mr Jackson took him through the allegations against him – the Scottish government official who said she was invited to re-enact a kiss from a Jack Vettriano Christmas card; the civil servant who allegedly woke up in a car during a trip to China to find him stroking her cheek; the woman who claims he touched her bottom as they both posed for a picture; the SNP politician who told the jury she travelled in his car and said that the first minister’s hand rested on her knee throughout the trip; the party employee whose evidence was that Mr Salmond recounted a dubious anecdote about a drunken journalist in the drawing room at Bute House; the serious charge of attempted rape, which he denies.

 

On these allegations, Mr Salmond’s response was that they were either light-hearted, taken as a joke, “high jinks”, consensual, or simply untrue. “Totally and utterly harmless” was one of his responses. “A fabrication” was another.

 

On one occasion, he conceded, things had gone further, when he said that he and a female Scottish government official, relaxing in his bedroom at Bute House after the day’s business, found themselves “lapsing into a sleepy cuddle, lying side by side on the bed, with her feet still on the floor.” Though both were fully clothed, it was, he said, “the kind of thing that happens when you are tipsy. It shouldn’t have happened”. She stood up, and said: “I’ll have to be going. This is a bad idea.” Mr Salmond says he sat up and agreed. She left, saying: “Good night, first minister.” Later, after she complained and one of his private secretaries spoke to him about it, he apologised.

 

Alex Prentice, QC, for the prosecution, took a dimmer view of the allegations. After raising the incident involving the Vettriano painting of a couple about to kiss, Mr Prentice asked bluntly: “Did you give any consideration to [her] feelings?” Dissatisfied with Mr Salmond’s response, he repeated the question three times. “I assumed she would accept the joke in the manner I had intended,” Mr Salmond explained. Mr Prentice remained unimpressed.

 

As each allegation was raised, Mr Prentice asked about the difference in ages between the first minister and the witnesses involved. Where he was in his late fifties, the women were mainly in their twenties. The age difference between him and the woman to whom it is alleged he told the dubious joke in Bute House was 31 years.

“Do you still think it was appropriate to tell [her] a story about a penis?” he asked.

“It was told in levity and jest,” Mr Salmond insisted.

 

“Did you grab [a senior civil servant’s] backside because you could get away with it?” Mr Prentice demanded. “No,” came the answer.

 

Two differing views of a powerful figure and the way he ran his office, his private life and the country.

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It appears the defence have failed to bust the prosecution witnesses but while there is plenty of evidence to establish a course of indecent assaults there isn’t really anything to corroborate the charge of attempted rape. Assuming jury believes the woman and there’s no apparent reason not to, there still needs to be something more and I don’t see it in the reports. Put it another way. Just because you’re caught pinching milk bottles off doorsteps doesn’t mean it was you that robbed the bank 

 

 Pity the lady hadn’t screamed her head off at the time.

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1 hour ago, compo said:

Just wait until a jury member comes down with the virus 

I think that's one of the reasons why they're trying to get this completed well under the original expected time.

 

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