THE sexual assault allegations against Alex Salmond are rubbish or based on incidents that have been greatly exaggerated, a defence lawyer has told a court

Gordon Jackson QC said the claims had emerged from a "political bubble" and told the jury something did not smell right.

He suggested one of the complainers, who cannot be named for legal reasons and is known as Woman A, had "something devious" about her. 

He said the senior Scottish Government official was interviewed six times by the police and never mentioned one of the alleged offences.

He said: "This stinks, absolutely stinks."

Mr Jackson made the comments while summing up the defence case on the tenth and final day of Mr Salmond's trial at the High Court in Edinburgh.

The former first minister faces multiple accusations of sexual assault, including an attempted rape, spanning a period between June 2008 and November 2014 and involving nine women. 

He denies all the allegations.

The jury has been sent home for the weekend and will resume deliberations on Monday morning.

Alex Prentice QC, for the prosecution, previously told the court Mr Salmond is a sexual predator who abused his power to satisfy his desires with impunity.

Mr Jackson told the jury he was not there to suggest that the former first minister "always behaved well or could not be a better man on occasion – that would be a waste of time". 

He said Mr Salmond "certainly could have been a better man", but the court is concerned with whether he is guilty of serious criminal charges. 

He said: "There's of course no such thing as a trivial sexual offence, but common sense tells us that some of these things are more serious than others." 

He said the charge of sexual assault with intent to rape against Woman F, a civil servant, is a "hell of an allegation — it's a very, very big allegation". 

He said both Mr Salmond and the women were fully clothed at all times. 

He said Mr Salmond had admitted the incident was "certainly not appropriate", adding: "That's what I'm saying — a better man would have saved us a lot of trouble".

He said the former first minister had referred to what happened as a "sleepy cuddle", and said the jury must acquit if the whole situation raised "reasonable doubt" in their minds.

He said: "For you to accept any of these things as criminal matters, you need to be satisfied to that very high standard."

He said Woman F "wanted and she got an apology and as far as she was concerned that was the end of the matter".

He said the incident had "grown arms and legs" in the intervening years and "become something entirely different in character".

He told the jury: "Please, please, please — we bring you here to think. We don't know you, but we assume that you are normal, common sense people. Please think."

He said the charge is not that Mr Salmond could be a better man, "the charge is intending to rape her".

Elsewhere, he said there were times Woman H, a former Scottish Government official Mr Salmond is accused of attempting to rape, "had to be pulled up by the judge [for] trying to get the boot in".

He said her account of the alleged incident was "a bit weird" and "all dramatic stuff", while she had given the police "contradictory evidence". 

He said: "It's quite hard to keep the version the same if it's not true. If it's true, it should be a lot easier."

Mr Jackson said the allegation is "nonsense".

He said politics is a "murky, murky world", and Mr Salmond had declined to back Woman H in a personal political project.

He said: "There's something going on. I can't prove it but I can smell it. There's something not right."

He said Woman C, an SNP politician, had not considered herself to be the victim of a sexual assault when Mr Salmond allegedly put his hand on her leg in the back of a car. 

Mr Jackson told the jury there are "patterns, really sinister patterns" in the evidence. 

He said an allegation relating to Woman J, an SNP worker, was "all revisionism". 

He said: "It's frightening, it's scary what's happening."

He added: "Years later you are getting a lot of this, 'I have had an awful nightmare'. Aye right."

Mr Jackson said the former first minister "could be inappropriate, he could shout and bawl and he could swear", and could be a "bugger" to work for.

He said Woman K, a former civil servant who Mr Salmond is accused of touching on the bottom in November 2014, did not view it as sexual, but about power.

He added: "And now, years later, it's a sexual offence on an indictment no doubt to bolster the two serious charges that are themselves rubbish.

"As I tell you, this is scary stuff."

He suggested Woman A, a senior official in the Scottish Government who Mr Salmond is accused of indecently and sexually assaulting in 2008 and 2010, was "not very impressive", with "something not right, something devious, something not very straightforward about her".

He said she had spoken to five of the other complainers.

One of the complainers, an SNP politician, had said "she did not wish to go to a meeting [Woman A] was at because she was feeling pressurised". 

Mr Jackson said: "There's something that does not smell right about the whole thing and you are supposed to be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the former first minister was not an eejit or inappropriate but was criminal. Serious, serious matters."

He said the former first minister had spent 30 years in public service.

The QC said: "I don't know what's going on. I don't suggest you can work it out either.

"But I do know this — that every single complaint that's been brought to this trial is in a political bubble."

He said a lot of the offences took place in public places with "not one witness to anything — not one".

He said: "This comes out of this political bubble with no real independent support of any kind.

"I said already that it smells, and I don't apologise for that one bit."

Mr Jackson said there was no policy to stop female civil servants from working alone with Mr Salmond at Bute House in the evenings.

He asked the jury to "please draw the line between folk saying he could be a bit inappropriate — we are talking crime here".

He said: "People ask me why I do this job and I suppose the answer is I believe in the rule of law."

He said no person is above the law, "and that's how it should be".

Mr Jackson said: "But equally it means that no person is below the law."

The lawyer said he did not care whether the jury liked Mr Salmond or not, describing him as a "Marmite man".

He said the former first minister is "entitled not to be convicted of anything unless there is clear evidence".

He told the jury: "This has gone far enough, gone on long enough — too long maybe. 

"It's time, I say to you quite bluntly — bring it to an end."

The jury of six men and nine women retired at 1.53pm on Friday.

The judge, Lady Dorrian, said it is for them alone to evaluate the evidence, and they must take as long as they feel appropriate.

She said they have three verdicts open to them – guilty, not guilty and not proven. The latter two are both verdicts of acquittal. 

Verdicts can be returned unanimously or by a majority, with at least eight of the 15 jurors needing to agree.