Former Scottish first minister Alex Salmond has been charged with two counts of attempted rape and nine counts of sexual assault.

The 64-year-old, who also faces two indecent assault charges and one count of breach of the peace, appeared at Edinburgh Sheriff Court on Thursday afternoon.

Speaking to the media outside court, he said: “I refute absolutely these allegations of criminality, and I’ll defend myself to the utmost in court.”

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Mr Salmond was arrested on Wednesday after attending a police station in central Scotland. 

The former Scottish National Party (SNP) leader arrived at court just before 2pm. He entered no plea during a brief hearing in private and was released on bail.

In a short statement to the media, he said: “Let me say from the outset, I am innocent of any criminality whatsoever.

“Now that these proceedings, criminal proceedings, are live, it is even more important to respect the court. And therefore, the only thing that I can say is I refute absolutely these allegations of criminality and I will defend myself to the utmost in court.

“I’ve got great faith in the court system in Scotland.”

A Police Scotland spokeswoman said: “We can confirm that a 64-year-old man has been arrested and charged, and a report will be sent to the procurator fiscal. Proceedings are now live under the contempt of court act.”

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Mr Salmond, from Linlithgow, West Lothian, was Scotland’s first minister from 2007 to 2014.

He led a minority Scottish government for four years after narrowly leading the SNP to its first Holyrood election victory in 2007.

In the 2011 election, he led the party to an unprecedented majority win, meaning the SNP’s manifesto pledge to hold an independence referendum could be delivered.

But the result of the 2014 referendum – a 55 per cent to 45 per cent vote to stay in the UK – led to him stepping down as first minister and SNP leader.

He resigned his party membership in August last year.

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