Alex Salmond says he is ‘innocent’ after court appearance

Former Scottish first minister Alex Salmond has said he is “innocent of any criminality” and will “defend himself to the utmost” after appearing in court.

No further details of the charge against the 64-year-old have yet been released.

He arrived at Edinburgh Sheriff Court just before 2pm and made a short statement after the brief hearing.

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

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

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

He resigned his membership of the SNP in August 2018.

Mr Salmond guided the party to a narrow Scottish election win in 2007 and then led a minority government as he became Scotland’s first SNP First Minister.

In the 2011 election, he led the party to an unprecedented victory with a 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% to 45% vote to stay in the UK – led to him stepping down as first minister and SNP leader.