The Press and Journal (Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire)

Women who brought case ‘devastated’, but say it was right thing to do

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The women who made sexual assault allegation­s against Alex Salmond say they have been left “devastated” after he was cleared in court of all charges.

But the nine women insisted they will not let the acquittal of the former first minister define them – saying they hope their experience can lead to improved understand­ing of sexual harassment and assault. They also said while the experience of taking the case to court had been “traumatic”, it had been the “right thing to do”.

In a joint statement, the nine women said: “While we are devastated by the verdict, we will not let it define us.

“We hope through shining a light on our experience­s, it will serve to protect and empower women in the future.”

Their statement, issued by the charity Rape Crisis Scotland, said: “Today we want to send a strong and indisputab­le message that such behaviours should not be tolerated – by any person, in any position, under any circumstan­ces.”

The women spoke out almost a week after the former SNP leader was cleared of the 13 charges he had been facing – including an allegation of attempted rape – by a jury at the High Court in Edinburgh.

The complainer­s, who were identified in the trial only as Woman A, Woman B, Woman C, Woman D, Woman F, Woman G, Woman H, Woman J, and Woman K, said: “We are devastated by the verdict. However, it is our fervent hope that as a society we can move forward in our understand­ing of sexual harassment and sexual assault.”

They said the process of taking the case to court had been “traumatic”, but thanked both Police Scotland and the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service for “taking our experience­s seriously and for allowing our voices to be heard”.

They continued: “Many of us did speak up at the time of our incidents but were faced with procedures that could not deal with complaints against such a powerful figure. Others were silenced by fear of repercussi­ons.

“We remain firm in our belief that coming forward to report our experience­s and concerns was the right thing to do. But it is clear we alone cannot achieve the change we seek.”

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