Alleged assault ‘led to ban on Alex Salmond working alone with women’ | UK news

Alex Salmond was banned from working alone with female civil servants at Bute House, his official residence as first minister of Scotland, after he allegedly sexually assaulted a Scottish government official in his private sitting room.

Witness G made the claim on the fourth day of Salmond’s trial for 14 alleged sexual assaults, including an attempted rape. She alleged the incident took place in the early hours of the morning on a day in April 2014.

It came after another woman, witness F – a civil servant in the Scottish government who also alleges that she was sexually assaulted by Salmond – told the high court in Edinburgh that the former leader of the Scottish National party apologised to her at a private meeting arranged by officials a week later.

Both women told the court that they did not initially report the alleged assaults to the authorities because they were worried about damaging Salmond’s reputation at a crucial point in the Scottish independence referendum campaign.

F told the court she felt fear and panic that Salmond “wasn’t going to stop” after describing how he lay on top of her while drunk and forced his hands up under her dress, while repeatedly telling her: “You’re irresistible.”

F alleged that Salmond had consumed nearly a full bottle of spirits before he ordered her on to a bed at the first minister’s official residence, Bute House, towards the end of a late-night meeting in December 2013.

She said it was arranged for her to meet Salmond at his office in Holyrood, without any chaperone, about a week after the alleged assault.

F told the court: “The first minister told me he was sorry for what had happened and that it was inappropriate. He said that he had been drinking more than usual, not just that night but in general, due to stress.”

Following this testimony, G was describing her own alleged sexual assault by Salmond when she was challenged by his defence advocate, Gordon Jackson QC, that “no one ever saw this as criminal” at the time.

G responded: “It was serious enough for us to change staffing procedures at the time, so I refute that. It was serious enough that women were not allowed to work with him on their own, unaccompanied.”

Asked to clarify what she meant about the change in civil service working arrangements with Salmond, G told the court: “Women were not to be alone in Bute House with Alex Salmond and he was not to receive any civil service support after 7pm or 9pm unless there was specific government business to attend to.”

Earlier in the afternoon, G described her shock when Salmond allegedly smacked her on the buttocks at the end of a dinner in Glasgow in 2012.

She went on to tell the court how, in April 2014, Salmond had insisted that she return to Bute House with some work papers at around midnight following a political dinner. After drinking shots of Limoncello with him, G said she began to feel “intimidated and trapped”.

She then alleges that Salmond told her: “What I would do to you if I were [younger].”

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

Asked by the prosecution barrister if she had been frightened, she replied: “Yes. I knew if I didn’t get out, something serious was about to happen so I just stood up and said I had to go, grabbed my phone and went to the door.”

She said that Salmond looked “frustrated and defeated” as she left. “He said something along the lines of ‘fine, go’.”

Asked if she had told anyone about the incident, she said she had texted a colleague immediately afterwards saying that she was not coming in for her early shift the next morning because Salmond had been “out of order”.

“I didn’t want anything to be done but he informed me that he had a duty to inform [a more senior civil servant].” She said she was told to take a few days off work.

G told the court it was “never an option” for her to report the incident – which took place as the Scottish independence referendum campaign was in full swing – in any official way: “I was very conscious of the time we were working in … I felt a huge responsibility to protect his reputation … I thought if I got into some sort of scandal with him it would lose the referendum.”

Earlier in the day, F was also pressed by Jackson on why she did not immediately report the alleged assault if she thought it was a criminal act.

F said: “This is to misunderstand the context … going to someone outside was completely unthinkable. This was the run-up to a referendum on independence. Everything we did which was outward-facing had potential ramifications which went well beyond personal experience.”

Salmond denies all the allegations.

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