Salmond, who appeared at Edinburgh sheriff court for a private hearing on Thursday afternoon, was charged with 14 offences: nine charges of sexual assault, two of attempted rape, two of indecent assault and one of breach of the peace.
The 64-year-old, who lives in Aberdeenshire, made no plea during the short hearing and was released on bail. Appearing outside court afterwards, he told dozens of reporters he was not guilty of any of wrongdoing.
“Let me say from the outset, I am innocent of any criminality whatsoever,” the former SNP leader said, in a brief statement flanked by a lawyer and press adviser.
“The only thing that I can say is I refute absolutely these allegations of criminality and I will defend myself to the utmost in court. I’ve got great faith in the court system in Scotland [and] that is where I will state my case.
“You know me well enough to know that I’d love to say a great deal more but I have got to observe the rules of the court and in court is where I will state my case.”
Salmond has been under investigation by Police Scotland since last September. News of his arrest stunned the Holyrood establishment. He is one of the most significant figures in modern British politics and was leader of the Scottish National party for more than 20 years. After he was charged, Scotland’s first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, said that it would be “a shock to many people”.
But she added: “These are now live criminal proceedings and that means now more than ever it would be completely inappropriate for me or anyone else for that matter to make any comment on the situation.”
Salmond was charged on Wednesday night after voluntarily attending a police station with his solicitor, and released after agreeing to appear in court.
Salmond, an MP and MSP for three decades, led the SNP into government in Edinburgh for the first time. He went on to win a landslide Holyrood election victory which led to a referendum on Scottish independence in 2014.
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.
He went on to serve as the party’s foreign affairs spokesman at Westminster before losing his seat there in 2017 after Theresa May’s snap election.
Last year he faced an internal investigation by the Scottish government into complaints against him. He consistently denied any criminal misconduct.
In early January, Salmond won a significant legal victory against the Scottish government after the civil service admitted its internal investigation into the complaints had been mishandled.
It emerged that the senior personnel expert who led the formal investigation, Judith MacKinnon, deputy head of human resources with the Scottish government, had spoken to the complainants before they filed their official complaints.
The Scottish government acknowledged this was in breach of its rules, was unlawful and had the appearance of bias.
In his full statement to the media outside court, Salmond said: “In September, shortly after I became aware of a police investigation, my solicitors wrote on my instruction to Police Scotland indicating that I was happy to meet them.
“Yesterday, by prior agreement and consistent with my previous offers, I voluntarily attended a police station with my solicitor. I co-operated fully with the police. I was released by the police after interview and agreed to attend court today.
“I have always maintained that I have never engaged in criminality and that remains my position. I said throughout the judicial review that it would be inappropriate to comment further until the conclusion of that case and I did not do so until I gave my full statement on the steps of the court of session two weeks ago.
“Faithful to that principle, and given that the case is live, I am obviously not able to say anything more at this stage other than to reiterate that I absolutely refute any allegations of criminality.”