ALEX Salmond said he has never had "non-consensual sexual relations with anyone” as he described an alleged encounter with a woman as a “sleepy cuddle”.

The former First Minister took the stand at the High Court, facing 13 charges of sexual assault, all of which he denies.

Mr Salmond told the court that he believes most of the allegations against him have been made up for political reasons.

He also said that he wished he had been “more careful” with people’s personal space, in retrospect.

He said: “From where I stand now, I wish I had been more careful with people’s personal space, but there was no intention whatsoever to offend.”

He added: “I’m of the opinion, for a variety of reasons, events are being reinterpreted and exaggerated out of all possible proportion.

Mr Salmond was pressed by his QC, Gordon Jackson, over the motivation behind his claim.

He said: “There were two reasons.

“One is that some, not all, are fabrications - deliberate fabrications for a political purpose. 

“Some are exaggerations taken out of proportion.”

He added: “At least one of the charges against me on the indictment - I think there was a legitimate grievance - even if it wasn’t what actually happened and not what was presented at the time.”

Mr Salmond was questioned about an allegation he assaulted a woman in his First Minister’s bedroom at Bute House in late 2013 after they drank the Chinese spirit, maotai, together.

He told the jury that he and Woman F, a Scottish Government official, “collapsed” into what he described as a “sleepy cuddle”.

He added: “My hands and arms were around her. There was no struggle whatsoever.

“I apologised for, I was First Minister, she was in my bedroom and we were tipsy. I put her in an embarrassing position.”

Mr Jackson asked Mr Salmond if he had intended to rape her.

“It’s not true”, said Mr Salmond.

“I have never attempted to have non-consensual sexual relations with anybody in my life.”

Mr Salmond told the jury that one of his accusers, a Scottish Government official, known as Woman A, had encouraged at least five others to “exaggerate or make claims” against him.

Woman A has accused Mr Salmond of sexually assaulting her in Glasgow in 2008.

But Mr Salmond denied the accusation.

He said: “I would never, under any circumstances, be touching (her) inappropriately.

“It would be insane to do anything like that. These claims are a fabrication.”

Mr Salmond was also questioned by Mr Jackson about claims he ran his hands down her body at an Edinburgh nightclub in 2010.

“It’s not just a fabrication - it’s ludicrous”, he said.

“It is a fabrication, just as she has encouraged at least five other people to exaggerate or make claims against me.”

The trial, before judge Lady Dorrian, continues.