The husband of an Alex Salmond accuser claims the ex-first minister’s political resurgence has left his wife “incapacitated by depression”.
Referred to as “Woman F” during Salmond’s criminal trial, she received an apology from him for inappropriate behaviour in 2013.
Salmond was cleared of all criminal charges at his trial and a not proven verdict was delivered over an allegation of assault with intent to rape Woman F.
At the trial, Salmond admitted the woman’s complaint relating to an incident at the first minister’s official residence, Bute House in Edinburgh, was based on “a legitimate grievance, even if it isn’t what happened”.
Woman F’s husband said she became trapped in a criminal process which tore her life apart after making her accusation about Salmond.
Her husband said: “From a powerless position I watched events unfold and my wife get swept up in a life-consuming wave of police investigation and criminal process that lasted for years – all of it out of her control.
“She feels a responsibility for putting the other women through the whole ordeal as she was one of the first people to come forward. But she did the right thing. I love my wife and couldn’t be more proud of what she has done.
“The idea that any of those women would have put themselves through that ordeal for any motivation other than justice is insane.
“Sadly, after what they endured I don’t think women in the parliament would now feel confident about coming forward with similar complaints.”
Salmond told his trial at the High Court in Edinburgh last year that he tried to give Woman F a “kiss goodnight” after they had been working late and claimed they got “tipsy”.
He said: “I meant to kiss her on the cheek but missed and kissed her on the mouth.”
He described it as a “brief kiss” and not a “sexual kiss” with the woman who was a civil servant under his charge at the time.
He claimed they fell on to the bed in a “sleepy cuddle”, fully dressed, “for no more than a few seconds”.
Salmond said Woman F later accepted his apology after she reported the encounter to a senior civil servant.
But the husband of Woman F said it has been impossible for his family to move on with their lives, with the spotlight following Salmond since he was cleared in court.
Salmond’s media profile rose following his trial and appearance in front of the Committee on the Scottish Government’s Handling of Harassment Complaints.
When he launched his new independence party, Alba, it compounded the pain of Woman F and her family.
Salmond will discover this weekend if he has been elected as an MSP after standing in the Aberdeenshire region.
The husband added: “It has been impossible to move on with our day-to-day lives. My wife had always been driven in work and in life but is now a shadow of her former self, incapacitated by depression.”
The possibility of Salmond being elected as an MSP has horrified the family.
He said: “We, as a family, are now back at the edge of another cliff, waiting to see if Salmond will be re-elected into parliament.
“We were at a similar cliff edge when the verdicts of the criminal case were given, and my wife fell over the edge then.”
Like the other complainers, Woman F was subjected to vicious online trolling during and after Salmond’s trial.
Her husband said: “The social media attacks were like a black hole we were sucked into. It felt like watching my wife self-harm when she was glued to a screen reading abusive comments. She has been bullied by thousands of people she has never met who are hiding behind the shield of the internet.
“The anonymity rightly afforded to my wife in law has been both a blessing and a curse. I shudder to think of the consequences that would be caused by a fraction of the online abuse reaching our actual doorstep.
“But the anonymity has also meant my wife is just a silhouette, a concept, a fictional character to many, whose motives and storyline can be picked apart without real knowledge or empathy.
“I hope a small seed can be planted in their minds that real people’s lives have been deeply affected by Salmond’s behaviour.”
Woman F’s husband said he had been walking with his children in Edinburgh last Saturday when he saw an Alba Party promotional stall which caused his “stomach to lurch and heart to pound”.
He refused the Alba supporters’ offer of a leaflet and instead told them his wife had been one of those who had accused Salmond of sexual assault.
He said: “There I stood, holding my children’s hands. No questions were asked of me, just defensive line after defensive line. The power that Salmond wields horrifies me. It’s a power that makes people who have never met him jump to his defence.
“It’s a power that lets him twist the narrative to suit his ends. It’s a power that has been a fog over my family’s life for years. It’s a power that comes from what Alex Salmond represents to many – Scottish independence, no matter what it takes”.
He was heartened when two men overheard and told him he had been right to speak up.
The husband added: “Those men showed me there are real people on the street who see Salmond for who he is. They gave me hope. I realised I must speak out.
“I’m not speaking for my wife, that is for her alone. This is me speaking out. Before, I was a person who would avoid confrontation and relied on hope alone – hope that it will be all right. But will never be all right until men in positions of power stop abusing it.
“I can’t emphasise enough how important it is for men to speak up. There are a lot of good men who are silent and their silence is damaging. I used to remain silent, but not any more.”
In March last year, Salmond was cleared of sexually assaulting nine women while he was Scotland’s first minister.
A jury found the former SNP leader not guilty on 12 of the sexual assault charges facing him, while another – the one involving Woman F – was found not proven.
A further charge of sexually assaulting a 10th woman had previously been dropped by prosecutors.
Throughout the two-week trial, Salmond said he was innocent of all charges against him.
The women who made the allegations against Salmond included an SNP politician, a party worker and several current and former Scottish Government civil servants and officials.
During his evidence to the court, Salmond said claims made about his alleged conduct were “deliberate fabrications for a political purpose” or “exaggerations”.
Don't miss the latest news from around Scotland and beyond - Sign up to our daily newsletter here.