Alex Salmond trial: Jury sent home for the weekend

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Alex SalmondImage source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Mr Salmond denies all of the allegations against him

The jury in the Alex Salmond trial has been sent home for the weekend and will resume its deliberations on Monday.

Mr Salmond denies carrying out a string of sexual assaults while he was Scotland's first minister.

The jury of nine women and six men retired shortly before 14:00 on Friday after hearing two weeks of evidence.

They can reach one of three verdicts for each of the 13 charges - guilty, not guilty or not proven. The verdicts must be agreed by a majority.

Mr Salmond says he is innocent of all 13 charges of sexual assault, which are alleged to have been committed against nine women over a six-year period.

Prosecutor Alex Prentice QC claimed on Thursday that Mr Salmond was a "sexual predator" who had used his position and power to "satisfy his sexual desires with impunity".

But in his closing speech to the trial at the High Court in Edinburgh on Friday, defence lawyer Gordon Jackson QC said the allegations against his client "don't make sense" when examined closely.

An he said that the former SNP leader had not always behaved well - but did not sexually assault anyone.

Mr Jackson said the Crown had not proven that the former SNP leader was guilty of any criminal offences during the two-week trial, and urged the jury to acquit him.

He said: "If in some ways the former first minister had been a better man, I wouldn't be here, you wouldn't be here, none of us would be here.

"I'm not here to suggest he always behaved well or couldn't have been a better man on occasions. That would be a waste of my time.

"But I'm in a court of law and I'm dealing not with whether he could have been a better man, because he certainly could have been better.

"I'm dealing with whether or not it was established he was guilty of serious, sometimes very serious, criminal charges."

Image source, PA Media

Mr Jackson went on to say there was a "pattern" in the case where "something that was thought nothing of at the time" later become a criminal charge at the High Court.

He told the jury that it required a "very, very high standard of proof" to find Mr Salmond guilty.

And he said allegations against his client "don't make sense and are never going to make sense" when they are examined closely.

Mr Jackson said the allegations all came from the "political bubble with no real independent support of any kind", adding: "It smells."

He went on to say that the rule of law should mean that no one is above the law - even if they are a former first minister.

But he added: "Equally it means that no person is below the law. Every person is entitled to the same protection that the law gives.

"I don't care if you like him or not - he was the Marmite man I suppose. But he is entitled to the law's protection, and not to be convicted of anything unless there is evidence.

"This has gone far enough and gone on long enough. Too long maybe. It's time, I say to you quite bluntly, to bring it to an end."

Mr Salmond has previously described the allegations as being "deliberate fabrications for a political purpose" or "exaggerations" and says he is innocent of all of the charges against him.

He has entered not guilty pleas to all 13 of the charges which he still faces, which include one charge of attempted rape, one of sexual assault with intent to rape, nine sexual assaults and two indecent assaults.

He has already been acquitted of a further sexual assault charge against a 10th woman after the Crown dropped the allegation during the trial.

What has the trial heard so far?