Accuser ‘said it would be great to work with Salmond again’

A witness told the court she didn't see the attempted rape accuser during Bute House dinner.

Accuser ‘said it would be great to work with Salmond again’ Getty Images

A woman said it “would be great” to work with Alex Salmond again – a year after she alleges he attempted to rape her, a court has heard.

The former first minister, 65, faces charges of 13 alleged sexual offences against nine women, all of which he denies.

He has claimed he had a “consensual sexual liaison” with one complainer, known as Ms H.

But he denies attempting to rape her at the first minister’s official residence, Bute House in Edinburgh, following a dinner in June 2014, claiming she was not there on the night in question.

A businesswoman told the High Court in Edinburgh on Wednesday she did not recall seeing Ms H “at any point during that evening”.

The company director said she was not drinking at the event but a bottle of wine was served to the table where she, Salmond and another guest were sitting.

When Alex Prentice QC suggested the complainer had been at the dinner, the witness replied: “I understand the police put that to me and I absolutely have no recollection of seeing (her) on that night.”

The court earlier heard the complainer had been one of Salmond’s biggest “cheerleaders” until he failed to help her with a political project and had been left “annoyed”.

On Wednesday, jurors were shown a text message exchange between Ms H and former SNP MP Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh in a discussion about the project.

Part of one message sent by the complainer in June 2015 – a year after the attempted rape – read: “Would be great to be working with him again.”

The court also heard from Alex Salmond’s former principal private secretary, who described working with him as a “privilege and a penance”.

Karen Watt, who held the post between 2009 and 2012, said the first minister had been a politician “at the top of his game”.

“I have described my time working with him as a privilege and a penance,” she said.

“It was very exacting, very fast-paced, also very tough, you needed to be quite resilient.”

She added: “He could be very demanding, he would expect people to be on their mark, on top of their game.

“He could be quite fierce if things weren’t as they should be.”

Salmond is on trial over accusations of sexual assault, including an attempted rape, spanning a period between June 2008 and November 2014.

His lawyers previously lodged special defences of consent and alibi.

The trial, before judge Lady Dorrian, continues. 

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