Salmond trial: Jury urged to convict ‘sexual predator’

Prosecutor tells court the former first minister abused his position to satisfy his desires.

Salmond trial: Jury urged to convict ‘sexual predator’ Getty Images

Alex Salmond was a “sexual predator” who abused his position of power to satisfy his desires without punishment, a jury has heard.

Crown prosecutor Alex Prentice QC told the High Court in Edinburgh on Thursday the evidence shows the former first minister had a “cohesive, compelling and convincing course of conduct”.

He urged jurors not to consider each charge in isolation but to look at the wider narrative of the allegations.

Salmond, 65, faces allegations of 13 sexual offences against nine women, including an attempted rape, all of which he denies.

Mr Prentice, in his closing speech to the jury of nine women and six men, said: “The Crown’s submission to you is this case is not about a plot and political conspiracy.

“It is about a powerful man who abused his power to satisfy his sexual desires with impunity.

“That it’s hard to complain when you rely upon your abuser for opportunities and career development and when you are fully aware of an abuser’s reach and control.”

He added: “Ladies and gentlemen, I suggest Alex Salmond’s conduct over the span of the charges was intimidating, humiliating, degrading and created an offensive environment.

“I suggest to you, ladies and gentlemen, the complainers in this case are courageous, brave women who spoke up to call out the abusive conduct of the former first minister.”

The accusations against Salmond range from him stroking a civil servant’s hair to attempting to rape a former Scottish Government official in Bute House.

It was heard there were “common themes” to eight alleged incidents in the first minister’s official residence in Edinburgh when he was alone with women.

The accused had been described as a “tactile person” who would often hug and kiss people when greeting them but Mr Prentice said “in my view, it’s not a licence to grope women”.

He highlighted alleged “brazen conduct” from the accused, with a number of the allegations said to have taken place in public.

Mr Prentice added: “He did it because he could.”

Describing another of the alleged assaults, he said: “There is a common theme here – that of a sexual predator with escalating gravity.”

Mr Prentice suggested there were “patterns” – the women were young and aspirational and felt they could be damaged professionally if they spoke out against “the most powerful man in the country”.

He said the women deserved credit for keeping a “professional face” despite the alleged incidents.

All of the complainers were either working for the Scottish Government or within the SNP at the time the events were said to have taken place.

Mr Prentice urged the jurors to consider the complainers as having given “credible” accounts of what was said to have happened.

Mr Prentice said: “They were, I would suggest, all bright young women with impressive CVs and great careers ahead of them – why should they give that up?”

The lawyer added: “These ladies effectively had no-one to turn to. They felt they couldn’t speak out and expose what had been taking place.

“They didn’t consider that they had any real option. Ladies and gentlemen, they had nobody to turn to for an effective remedy.

“Well, they do now. I invite you, ladies and gentlemen, to convict Alex Salmond of the charges against him.”

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.

Jurors finished hearing evidence on Thursday and now await the closing speech from Salmond’s legal defence team.

The trial, before judge Lady Dorrian, continues on Friday.

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