WOMEN were banned from working alone with Alex Salmond in his official residence after a complaint was made about his conduct, a court has heard.

Two women told the High Court in Edinburgh that they raised complaints with civil servants and Mr Salmond’s senior staff in the months leading up to the independence referendum. 

One civil servant – who is known as Woman F and cannot be named for legal reasons – said the former first minister apologised to her in his Holyrood office after an alleged assault in late 2013. 

She said she felt a “mix of panic and disbelief” when Mr Salmond got on top of her on a bed, put his hands under her skirt, kissed her "sloppily and haphazardly" and murmured she was irresistible.

Mr Salmond is charged with sexually assaulting the woman with intent to rape in Bute House, his official residence in Edinburgh when he was first minister, in December 2013. He has lodged a special defence of consent to the allegation.

Meanwhile, a Scottish Government official, known as Woman G, said she felt like a “plaything” after Mr Salmond “smacked” her bottom in a restaurant at a dinner also attended by his wife in 2012.

In another alleged incident in April 2014, she told the court she felt frightened and trapped when Mr Salmond made inappropriate comments to her, put his arm around her and tried to kiss her in Bute House late at night.

When Mr Salmond’s lawyer, Gordon Jackson QC, questioned the seriousness of the incident, the woman said “it was serious enough for us to change staffing procedures on him”. 

She said: “It was serious enough that we determined that women were not allowed to work with him on their own unaccompanied.”

She later added: “Women were not to be alone with Mr Salmond in Bute House and he was not to receive any civil service private office support, I think it was after the hours of 7pm or 9pm, unless there was specific government business to attend to.”

Mr Salmond, 65, is on trial over accusations of sexual assault, including an attempted rape. He denies all the allegations.

He is accused of assaulting Woman F at the first minister's official residence, Bute House, in late 2013.

Woman F, who was being questioned by advocate depute Alex Prentice QC, told the court Mr Salmond said the pair should go to a bedroom to 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.

The civil servant 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 Mr Salmond told her "firmly" but not "aggressively" to get on the bed.

She said: “I felt quite panicked. This is very much within a working environment and culture where you do whatever it is that the First Minister asked of you, so I was trying to balance that and sitting very primly on the edge of the bed with a rising panic.”

After sitting on the edge of the bed, the woman said Mr Salmond got on top of her and began to kiss and touch her and murmured that she was "irresistible".

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.

"He was kissing me around my face, quite sloppily and haphazardly, and he was repeatedly murmuring a phrase - it was something like 'you're irresistible’."

She also told the court: "I thought that he was going to remove my tights and my underwear, that he would be pushing the encounter physically further.”

She said she feared the situation would “keep escalating”. 

She said: “I very much felt that he was not going to stop.”

She said she was repeatedly saying words “to the effect of that I needed to be going, this was not a good idea”, and was also trying to “restrict the movement of the First Minister’s hands”.

She said Mr Salmond had either eventually stopped or had shifted his weight. 

She managed to get up from the bed and "said goodnight" to him.

The woman said she was “extremely upset” on the way home and messaged a colleague to say "that's an evening I'll need to forget”.

She said she met with this colleague in the following days. She told the court: “I don’t think that I told him the full details. 

“I was finding it extremely difficult to talk about and extremely difficult to get the words out, but I must have told him enough that part of his response, he said it could be a crime.”

The issue was then escalated, and Mr Salmond’s staff got involved. 

Mr Salmond later apologised to the woman in his Holyrood office.

She told the court: “The First Minister told me that he was sorry for what happened, that it had been unacceptable. 

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

“He said something along the lines of that he respected me, that he wanted us to be able to keep working together, and apologised.”

Mr Jackson later suggested there had simply been “a bit of a cuddle”.

The woman said she refuted any suggestion “that I cuddled the First Minister”. 

She also rejected a suggestion that an email she had sent after midnight saying there would be "one or two headaches in the morning" meant she had also been drinking heavily.

She said she was "not looking for a police process or a criminal justice process".

She said part of her job was protecting the First Minister and the Scottish Government, and at the time she had been mindful of the impact of such allegations.

She said: “If that had gone into the public domain then that could potentially have been used against the Government, possibly it could have been used to try to influence public opinion in the run up to a referendum.”

Another witness, the colleague contacted by Woman F following the alleged incident with Mr Salmond, said he had received a text or email from her that night. 

He later spoke to her at work and said she appeared “distressed and not her normal self”.

Later on Thursday afternoon, Woman G told the court of an incident at the Ubiquitous Chip restaurant in Glasgow in 2012, when Mr Salmond allegedly “smacked” her bottom as they got up to leave. 

She said Mr Salmond’s wife was among those who attended the dinner.

She said: “It felt demeaning and it made me feel like I was a plaything to him.”

She said she mentioned it to a colleague but did not raise a complaint, adding: "He was my boss, I only existed in the job because of him and he also just happened to be the most powerful person in the country.”

Mr Jackson later suggested the smack had been “playful”. 

Woman G also said she felt “frightened” during a separate incident at Bute House in April 2014.

The woman said she had come back to Bute House after a dinner to drop off paperwork when Mr Salmond invited her to sit next to him on the sofa. 

He then made inappropriate comments, including: “What I would do to you if I were [younger].”

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

She added: “I essentially kept saying I have to go, I have to go.”

She said she sat with her legs “tightly” closed and her arms closed around her, and said she was “frightened”. 

She even pretended a cousin was staying over and she needed to go home.

She said Mr Salmond looked “frustrated" and "defeated” when she got up, grabbed her phone and left, and “said something along the lines of, ‘Fine, go.’”

Woman G said she remembered leaving the building and realising she would have to go back to work in a few hours and would see Mr Salmond again. 

She said: “I was extremely embarrassed. I felt confused because I hated him for what he had just done and my main feeling was I did not want to be around him again.”

Mr Jackson, 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.

She told a Scottish Government colleague Mr Salmond “has been out of order, he has been inappropriate, I’m not going back in tomorrow morning”. 

This complaint later led to the change in staffing rules, she said. 

Mr Salmond faces 14 charges of alleged offences against 10 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.

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

Consent was given as a defence for three alleged sexual assaults and an alleged indecent assault against three women.

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