Mr Salmond’s dramatic court case this year has created an uneasy atmosphere in Scottish politics. The independence advocate was accused by 10 women of sexual assault. He was found not guilty in March on all charges of attempted rape, sexual assault and indecent assault. Jurors came to the verdict of not proven on one charge of sexual assault with intent to rape, after hearing nearly nine days of evidence. But the trial has still seen cracks form within the SNP, with some Salmond-loyalists branding it a setup by opponents within the party – a claim that Ms Sturgeon described as “nonsense”.
Conservative Party MP Andrew Bridgen told Express.co.uk that Mr Salmond will be out for revenge as his former party continues to split.
Mr Bridgen said: “‘There’s a figure, like Banquo’s ghost, hiding in the shadows. And that’s Alex Salmond, out for revenge.”
He also criticised Ms Sturgeon’s “appalling” domestic record while claiming the SNP are a “one trick pony” with independence.
Mr Salmond – who resigned from the party in 2018 after the allegations came to light – was warned after his trial that any bid to return would be met with opposition.
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An SNP source told The Sunday Post after Mr Salmond’s trial: “Any future application to rejoin would be very difficult for the party and its wider membership to deal with.
“The court has shown he is an innocent man but the case has raised questions about his conduct.
“It is clear that the way the case has played out in public that any application to rejoin would be difficult and contentious and pose huge problems for the party at large in trying to reconcile two groups with different views on a very serious and high-profile issue.”
Mr Salmond himself suggested he would return to the media spotlight in some form after his trial concluded in March, albeit putting the move on ice as the coronavirus pandemic had to be the public’s priority.
Standing outside the High Court in Edinburgh, he said: “I’d like to start by explaining that faith and thanking the jury for their decision.
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“As many of you will know there is certain evidence that I would have liked to have seen led in this trial but for a variety of reasons we were not able to do so.
“At some point that information, that facts and that evidence will see the light of day but it won’t be this day. And it won’t be this day for a very good reason.
“Whatever nightmare I’ve been in over these last two years it is nothing compared to the nightmare that every single one of us is currently living through.
“People are dying. Many more are going to die.
“My strong advice to you is to go home and those who are able take care of your families and God help us all.”
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Just last month, Ms Sturgeon opened up on the fallout between herself and Mr Salmond, comparing it to a “grieving process”.
She told Times Radio: “I’ve not been able to talk about this because of the criminal trial and then when the criminal trial ended, I was immersed as I still am in Covid.
“I will get the opportunity to talk about that in the parliamentary inquiries that are to come and while I wouldn’t say I relish that prospect at all, there will to some extent be a sense of relief, at just being able to have my say.
“There is a sense of something that I suppose is not a million miles from a grieving process, but you know, we all go through difficult things and we have to cope with them.”
This week, the Scottish Government has refused to hand over significant legal papers to a Holyrood investigation into the handling of harassment complaints against Alex Salmond, claiming they are too sensitive to disclose.
John Swinney, the deputy first minister, said that the government would withhold its papers on the former first minister’s legal action against it, its own legal advice and key documents from its internal inquiry.
Last week, the Scottish Government paid out £500,000 to Mr Salmond in legal expenses over its flawed inquiry into sexual harassment claims.