Alex Salmond has sold a major stake in his TV production company to help pay his legal bills following his acquittal on sexual assault charges, The Daily Telegraph understands.
Documents lodged at Companies House show that the former First Minister is no longer listed as a person with “significant control” over Slainte Media, which he set up in 2017 when he launched a TV and stand-up career after losing his Westminster seat.
Mr Salmond is believed to retain a small stake in the company, of around 10 per cent, although Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh, the former SNP MP and his business partner, now holds more than three quarters of shares. The pair previously held half of the company each.
The company is behind Mr Salmond’s controversial weekly chat show on RT, formerly Russia Today, which Ms Ahmed-Sheikh also works on as an editor and host.
It is understood that the sale is part of efforts to raise funds for legal bills incurred by Mr Salmond.
Mr Salmond was awarded more than £500,000 in costs when he successfully challenged the fairness of an internal Scottish Government probe against him, following sexual misconduct allegations. However, he is believed to have been left with significant legal bills following the criminal case against him, which concluded in March.
Mr Salmond hired Gordon Jackson QC, the former Labour MSP and one of Scotland’s leading advocates, to lead his successful defence against 14 charges of sexual assault.
According to the most recent company accounts lodged at Companies House, Slainte Media held assets of £89,778 at the end of November 2018.
There have been no changes listed for Mr Salmond’s other company, The Chronicles of Deer Limited, which handles income from his book The Dream Shall Never Die. It reported assets of £154,893 in its most recent balance sheet.
When Mr Salmond took legal action against the Scottish Government in 2018, he launched an online crowdfunder which quickly raised over £100,000 from supporters to help pay legal fees. However, the move attracted significant criticism from opposition parties and he has not repeated it following his acquittal in the criminal case.
It is understood that Mr Salmond’s weekly RT show will continue, despite growing calls for him to sever ties with the Russian broadcaster, which is state-funded and widely seen as a mouthpiece for the Kremlin.
It is not yet known whether Mr Salmond plans to make a political comeback, but if he did, his opponents would be likely to relentlessly attack his links with RT.
Following claims that Russia had sought to interfere in the Scottish independence referendum, referenced in a report by Westminster’s Intelligence and Security Committee last month, the former SNP leader faced renewed calls to end his relationship with the broadcaster.
The report also cited RT, and sister station Sputnik, which has a base in Edinburgh, as being part of Russia’s “promotion of disinformation” with “serious distortions” in their coverage. Mr Salmond has insisted he has complete independence over the content of his show.