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Alex Salmond appears in court charged with sexual assaults against 10 women

Alex Salmond denies trying to rape a woman at the official residence of the first minister of Scotland during the independence referendum campaign.

The former first minister, 64, is said to have kissed and groped the woman at Bute House during the historic vote in 2014.

He is then alleged to have pinned her against a wall before pulling at her clothes, stripping his own off and attempting to rape her on a bed.

Salmond appeared at the High Court in Edinburgh on Thursday where he denied 14 offences against 10 women.

They include a charge of attempted rape, 11 of sexual assault – including one with intent to rape – and two of indecent assault dating between 2008 and 2014, with one assault said to have taken place in the month of the referendum.

The former MP and MSP is also accused of forcing a woman to lie on his bed at the residence before pulling up her dress with intent to rape her in late 2013.

The earliest charge against Salmond – who was Scotland’s first minister from 2007 until 2014 – claims he indecently assaulted a woman by kissing her mouth and groping her breast and buttocks over her clothing in the summer of 2008.

It is also claimed he sexually assaulted a woman on various occasions between May 2011 and June 2013 at the Scottish Parliament, Bute House and elsewhere by touching her bottom and stroking other parts of her body.

Salmond – who was Scotland’s first minister from 2007 to 2014 – is also accused of taking off a woman’s shoe and trying to kiss her foot in October 2013.

The indictment further states that in September 2014, Salmond grabbed a woman by her shoulders at Bute House, repeatedly kissed her face, tried to kiss her lips and touched her leg and face.

Several charges concern Salmond allegedly groping women, including one incident at the Ego nightclub in Edinburgh in late 2010 or 2011, and another at the Ubiquitous Chip restaurant in Glasgow in 2012.

Gordon Jackson QC, representing Salmond, said he denied the allegations.

Judge Lady Dorrian continued the preliminary hearing until January 22 and set a trial date for March 9, which is expected to last four weeks.

Speaking outside court after the hearing, Mr Salmond said he would defend himself ‘vigorously’ during the trial.

‘The only proper place to answer criminal charges is in this court and that is exactly what I intend to do next spring,’ he said.

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