ELAINE C Smith has opened up about the sexual assaults and harassment she experienced as an aspiring actor in her twenties.

Ms Smith claims she was lewdly propositioned by a photographer, attacked backstage in a Kirkcaldy theatre and assaulted in Princes Street in Edinburgh.

She alleges that police belittled her when she reported the incidents.

Revelations about movie mogul Harvey Weinstein have prompted thousands of women in the showbusiness world, to share their experiences of abusive behaviour, using the #metoo hashtag on social media.

The three incidents were only examples, Ms Smith said, adding: “Before I became well known I could give you, like most young women, about 40 incidents of abuse.”

She claims sexist remarks and treatment were rife when she first worked in television 30 years ago, and while achieving some power in the industry helped, prior to that others had tried to take advantage of her.

“I was in my twenties with big tits and Farrah Fawcett flicks and seen to be fair game,” Ms Smith recalled, in an interview with The Herald magazine. On one occasion a photoshoot had required her to visit a photographer’s studio in his own home, she said.

“While I was changing I turned around and suddenly there he was, asking ‘Can I touch your tits?’ I was terrified.”

She felt obliged to complete the photoshoot before she left, she says, although later ensured the same photographer was fired from a job with Wildcat Theatre. She had not reported him to police, because of an incident when she was assaulted on a night out in Edinburgh, aged 22, she said. “A guy ran past and put his hand up my dress, ripped the dress off me and ran away,” she recalled. “His pal, running behind, then shoved his hands between my legs. I was humiliated and degraded.” But when she reported the attack a police sergeant took her details and said that when they caught him “we’ll let you pull his trousers off,” she claims.

Meanwhile after a stranger grabbed her in a Kirkcaldy dressing room, during a Scottish Youth Theatre summer school she also told the police. They asked if she had fallen out with her boyfriend, she said. In both cases, it was only when officers realised she was a teacher that they treated her with more respect.

Ms Smith says more women in positions of power in the industry would help to reduce incidents of sexual assault.

“The men usually carry out these acts because it’s about power. The answer is to put more power in the hands of women,” she said.

Her revelations came as TV presenter Anna Richardson claimed the film and TV industry could be “toxic” during a panel discussion organised by the Edinburgh International TV Festival (EITF).

The Naked Attraction presenter has alleged she was groped by Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2000, and says little has changed since. “When all the allegations came out about Weinstein I ...rolled my eyes and went ‘Here we go again’,” said Ms Richardson. “This industry preys a little bit on people being compliant and I worry about that deeply." A Police Scotland spokeswoman said: "Anyone who has been a victim of sexual abuse should feel confident in reporting to Police Scotland, we will listen, we will investigate and out officers will treat all reports sensitively."