An Edinburgh jury on Monday acquitted former Scottish leader Alex Salmond of sex crime charges involving allegations from nine women.

Jurors began their deliberations on Friday following an 11-day trial. They returned not guilty verdicts on 12 charges and returned a not proven verdict on a charge of sexual assault with intent to rape.

Salmond, 65, had denied all 13 alleged offences.

The nine women either worked for the Scottish government or within Salmond’s Scottish National Party at the time the offences were alleged to have taken place. The allegations spanned a period between June 2008 and November 2014.

The accusations ranged from Salmond stroking a civil servant’s hair to trying to rape a former Scottish government official in the leader’s official residence in Edinburgh.

Three verdicts were available to the jurors — guilty, not guilty and not proven. The latter two are considered acquittals under Scottish law.

After leaving the High Court, Salmond thanked his family and friends for standing by him during the past two years and he urged reporters to “go home” in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Whatever nightmare I’ve been in over the last two years, it is nothing compared to the nightmare that every single one of us is currently living through,” he said. “People are dying and many more are going to die.”

Salmond led the pro-independence Scottish National Party for 20 years and headed Scotland’s semi-autonomous government as its first minister from 2007 to 2014.

A major figure on the Scottish political stage for decades, he took Scotland to the verge of independence from the U.K. by holding a 2014 referendum on separation. He stepped down as leader after the Remain side won the vote 55 per cent to 45 per cent.

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