Women ‘were stopped from working alone with Alex Salmond’

Former first minister's sexual assault trial told there was a change in staffing rules after concerns raised in 2014.

Women ‘were stopped from working alone with Alex Salmond’ Getty Images

Women were stopped from working alone with Alex Salmond in Bute House – the first minister’s official residence – after an alleged sexual assault, a jury has heard.

A complainer, known as Ms G, told the High Court in Edinburgh she raised concerns about the alleged incident in 2014 and this led to a change in staffing rules.

Salmond is on trial over accusations of sexual assault, including an attempted rape. The 65-year-old denies all the charges.

The woman, a Scottish Government official who is the fifth complainer to give evidence at the trial, said she felt like a “plaything” after she was allegedly smacked on the behind by Salmond in a previous incident in Glasgow.

Ms G said: “Women were not to be alone with Mr Salmond in Bute House and he was not to receive any civil service private support in the evening unless there was specific government business to attend to.”

It was heard Salmond made “inappropriate comments” during the alleged incident at the official residence, such as “what I would do to you if I were 26”.

She added: “I thought it meant that he would try to have sex with me, to have sexual relations with me.

“He had his arm around me and at that point I started to feel panic and he leaned in to kiss me.”

She claimed she got up and said she had to go, leaving Salmond looking “defeated”.

Gordon Jackson QC, cross-examining the witness, asked why she did not contact police about the alleged incident.

The woman said this was “not an option” because she felt there would be ramifications if it became public, including having an impact on the Scottish independence referendum.

Mr Jackson also put it to her Salmond had been “playful” with the previous alleged incident in Glasgow.

Earlier, the court heard Salmond got on top of another woman on a bed, kissed her “sloppily and haphazardly” and murmured she was “irresistible”.

He is accused of assaulting the woman at Bute House, in late 2013, around nine months before the referendum.

The complainer, known as Ms F, said she was concerned any police proceedings might get into the “public sphere”.

She said: “This was a run-up to a referendum on independence, everything we did outward-facing had potential ramifications.”

Ms F, who was being questioned by advocate depute Alex Prentice QC, told the court Salmond said the pair should go to his bedroom for work as it was cold.

It was heard he then brought out a bottle of white Chinese spirit called Maotai and she drank a little.

She said he kept trying to top up her glass while he drank “steadily” until it was empty.

When she got up to leave, she said Salmond told her “firmly” but not “aggressively” to get on the bed.

The complainer said: “The first minister was lying on top of me, he had his hands under the skirt of my dress and ran them over my thighs and my bottom.

“He was also running his hands over the bodice of my dress and over my breasts.”

The Scottish Government official, who was the fourth complainer to give evidence, said she had thought Salmond was going to “take things further” but later apologised after a meeting was arranged.

She added: “He said that he had been drinking more than usual, not just that night but in general due to stress.”

Mr Jackson put it to the complainer that the incident had been a “sleepy cuddle” and then she got up to leave, which she rejected.

He said: “He didn’t try to restrain you, he didn’t block your path to the door, he never said ‘please don’t go’.”

The woman also told the court Salmond kissed her on a previous occasion at Bute House.

When asked if she had invited him to kiss her or agreed to him kissing her, she added: “No, absolutely not.”

Mr Jackson described the accused as a “tactile human being”.

Salmond faces 14 charges of alleged offences against ten women, all of which he has pleaded not guilty to.

The charges span a period between June 2008 and November 2014, with one sexual assault said to have taken place in the month of the Scottish independence referendum in September 2014.

Salmond’s lawyers previously lodged special defences of consent and alibi.

The trial, before judge Lady Dorrian, continues on Friday.

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