A SNP politician has told a court of the “surreally awful” moment Alex Salmond allegedly put his hand on her leg during a journey in his official car.
The woman, known as Ms C for legal reasons, told a jury on Wednesday that the former first minister touched her following a night out.
Ms C told the High Court in Edinburgh that she didn’t want Salmond to do this.
She said her husband and Salmond’s driver were sitting close by, but didn’t notice the incident.
Ms C told prosecution lawyer Alex Prentice QC: “It was so surreally awful that I didn’t want to say anything.
“I was just really embarrassed by it and presumed he would stop quite soon because it was so not the right thing to do.”
Ms C was giving evidence on the third day of proceedings against Salmond, who is standing trial on two charges of indecent assault, ten charges of sexual assault, one charge of attempted rape and another charge of sexual assault with intent to rape.
Ms C told Mr Prentice she had been out in Edinburgh in 2011 with her husband when they met Salmond.
They were trying to catch the last train home and Salmond offered to give them a lift in his car.
Ms C said that during the journey, she and Salmond sat in the back while her partner and the driver sat in the front.
Ms C said at this point, Salmond put his hand on her leg, above her knee.
She told the court she felt embarrassed by it. She hoped he would move his hand but it stayed there until they got to a train station.
She said nobody noticed Salmond’s actions.
Ms C added: “I was absolutely gobsmacked. The first minister – who I really looked up to – had done that and I was gobsmacked.
“People were talking – my husband was talking – that’s what made it bizarre – everything was still continuing to go on.
“I just froze. I sat there thinking ‘just stop’.”
Ms C said she didn’t tell her husband about what happened as he was in a good mood at being able to get a ride in an official government car.
She said that her husband also admired Salmond and looked up to him.
Ms C added: “I suppose when you look back at things you realise how much you excuse a person because of who they are.
“It is so hard to explain how much he meant to our party and you just put things to one side.
“I didn’t think it was nothing. It was because of who he is and what he was.
“Who on earth was I going to tell and what on earth were they going to do about it?”
When defence QC Shelagh McCall suggested to Ms C that the reason why she never reported the matter was because it didn’t happen, the witness replied: “I absolutely wish that was the case because I wouldn’t need to be here today.”
Salmond has pleaded not guilty to all charges. His lawyers have lodged special defences of consent and alibi.
The trial, before judge Lady Dorrian, continues.