ALEX Salmond has appeared in court over a series of alleged sex crimes against ten women. 

The former First Minister appeared at a preliminary hearing at the High Court in Edinburgh.

READ MORE: Alex Salmond due at High Court in Edinburgh today 

Mr Salmond, 64, did not speak during the 15 minute hearing in Court 3 before Lady Dorrian, the Lord Justice Clerk. 

However, his lawyer, Gordon Jackson QC, said he would be pleading not guilty.

Mr Salmond later said outside court that he would be pleading not guilty.

“I’m innocent and will defend myself vigorously, but the only place to do that is in this court, and that’s what we will do,” he said.

HeraldScotland: Picture; Duncan McGlynn Picture; Duncan McGlynn

Lady Dorrian fixed a trial date of March 9 next year. It is expected to last four weeks.

She continued the hearing to 22 January.

Mr Salmond is accused of one count of attempted rape, one of sexual assault with intent to rape, ten other counts of sexual assault, and two counts of indecent assault. 

Nine of the charges relate to alleged incidents at his former official residence, Bute House.

The alleged incidents date from mid-2008 to late 2014 and involve 10 complainers.

According to the indictment, the charges against Mr Salmond are:

The indecent assault “on various occasions” of a woman in 2008 in Glasgow and the sexual assault of the same woman in an Edinburgh nightclub in 2010 or 2011.

The indecent assault of a second woman in Bute House in late 2010

The sexual assault of a third woman in a motor vehicle in Edinburgh in February 2011

The sexual assault of a fourth woman on “various occasions” between 2011 and 2013 in Bute House, the Scottish Parliament and elsewhere

The sexual assault of a fifth woman in Bute House in October 2013 by attempting to kiss her foot

The sexual assault of a sixth woman at Bute House in late 2013 and then the sexual assault  of the same woman “with intent to rape” on a different occasion at Bute House in late 2013 

The sexual assault of a seventh woman at a Glasgow restaurant in March 2012 and the sexual assault of the same woman at Bute House in April 2014

The sexual assault of an eighth woman at Bute House in May 2014 and then the attempted rape of the same woman at Bute House in June the same year

The sexual assault of a ninth woman at Bute House in September 2014

The sexual assault of a tenth woman at Stirling Castle in November 2014 

Mr Salmond was charged originally with slightly different group offences when he appeared during a brief private hearing at Edinburgh Sheriff Court on January 24. 

They then included two charges of attempted rape, nine of sexual assault, two of indecent assault and one breach of the peace. 

Mr Salmond was First Minister from 2007 to 2014, when he stood down after the No result in the independence referendum.