Alex Salmond may be saddled with hundreds of thousands of pounds of legal costs after being cleared of sexual offences charges.

No application was made for legal aid in the high-profile case, meaning the former First Minister could be liable for a huge bill.

A jury at the High Court in Edinburgh acquitted Salmond in March after hearing nearly nine days of evidence.

Mounting a criminal defence is costly and he was represented by QCs Gordon Jackson and Shelagh McCall.

Alex Salmond addressing the media after his trial

Detailed work carried out by other lawyers ahead of the trial would have added to the bill.

An accused in a criminal trial can qualify for legal aid, which helps pay for advice and court representation.

However, the Scottish Legal Aid Board said: “Alex Salmond was not funded by the Legal Aid Board. No payments have been made to Alex Salmond’s legal team in relation to his criminal trial as it was not funded by legal aid.”

The public body added: “No application for legal aid was received in relation to Mr Salmond’s criminal trial.”

The Crown Office, which pursued the unsuccessful prosecution, also said it was not paying the ex-SNP leader’s bill.

MSP Neil Findlay and Annie Wells have both urged transparency on how the costs will be met.

However, a friend of the former First Minister said he had been footing the bill himself.

“It cost Alex dear to prove his innocence – no one should underestimate just how personally expensive this has been – and not a penny came from the public purse.

“It’s quite a contrast with the taxpayer resources deployed against him, between the abandoned judicial review, massive police investigation and failed prosecution case.”

Salmond famously raised £100,007 in a 2018 crowdfunder, but this was to help meet the costs of a separate civil dispute against the Scottish Government.

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After he won the civil case, Salmond wrote: “The legal costs of the action which will have to be paid by the Scottish Government are massive –perhaps half a million pounds or even more – a bill sent to the people of Scotland as a result of the Permanent Secretary’s incompetent procedure.

“That means in turn since we are refunded around two-thirds of our costs, there is still likely to be a surplus in the crowdfunder.”

“As you remember I promised in these circumstances that any surplus would go to good causes in Scotland and beyond. That will now be done, when the calculation of expenses is complete.”

The absence of legal aid, coupled with the fundraising money being for the civil case, will likely prove expensive for him.

Salmond did not comment after being asked about the costs in his criminal trial.

On March 23rd, after being cleared, he said he would make no further public comment on his case until the pandemic was over.