ALEX Salmond’s launch of the Alba Party was dominated by questions about his previous inappropriate behaviour towards women.

The former first minister, 66, refused to apologise or say whether he was still the “bully and creep” revealed by his criminal trial last year, or a reformed character.

Instead, he retreated behind a mantra that there had been “two court cases, two judges, one jury and three inquiries”, and that he would rest on their findings. 

Mr Salmond was charged with multiple sexual assaults in January 2019 and acquitted on all counts at a High Court trial a year ago.

His defence counsel admitted the former first minister could be a demanding and tactile boss, and instances of inappropriate behaviour were heard by the jury.

Asked if he was still a bully and a creep, or if he was now a reformed character, Mr Salmond said: “In terms of character mattering, that’s exactly what an election is about.

READ MORE: Alex Salmond: Alba stands as a party to boost pro-independence MSP - but it may cost SNP majority

“This is an argument that’s going to the people, and on the people’s hands that argument will rest. Either Alba will be successful, and many people will rally to our standard, or it won’t. We’ll find out over the next six weeks.”

A Westminster SNP source said: “This shows how much of an egomaniac Alex is, or has become. 

“He seems to dismiss what he’s done as insignificant because he was cleared of criminality. 

“That doesn’t excuse his completely inappropriate behaviour with female colleagues, and I do not think he should be paid, with taxpayers’ money, to represent the public.”

Mr Salmond appeared to anticipate the criticism by announcing a gender-balanced first set of candidates – himself, former SNP Inverclyde councillor Chris McEleny, Alva solicitor Eva Comrie, and company chief executive Cynthia Guthrie.

Mr Salmond will stand in the North East of Scotland, Mr McEleny in the West, Ms Comrie in Mid-Scotland and Fife, and Ms Guthrie in South of Scotland. 

READ MORE: Alex Salmond: What is the Alba Party and who are its candidates?

Mr McEleny has been a frequent critic of the SNP’s gender reforms and the Hate Crime Bill, which have been seen as infringing women’s sex-based rights and safe spaces.

The same issues, and the frequently toxic debate over transgender rights, have alienated many SNP supporters, and Alba will be hoping for their votes. 

Mr Salmond said: “Every political party has to decide where the line should be drawn between matters of policy and matters of conscience.

“That line has been far too far in one direction of late.

“You have to have a toleration of ideas, particularly on matters of conscience, which are crucial to people. A political party should not dictate individual consciences.”

Alba is also planning a Women’s Conference on April 10 on “gender-proofing all our policies to ensure women are front and centre in all our policy considerations”.

Its website adds: “This will be an all-women safe space event.”