ONE of the women complainants in Alex Salmond’s trial has spoken on television for the first time of her “absolute shock” on learning the former first minister had been cleared of all sexual assault charges.

Another said hearing the verdicts was “like being punched in the stomach”.

The interviews are at the centre of a new BBC documentary, The Trial Of Alex Salmond, to be shown on Monday.

On Tuesday, the first witnesses appear before the Scottish Parliament inquiry into the Scottish Government’s handling of complaints against Mr Salmond by two women civil servants.

In March this year Mr Salmond was acquitted at the High Court in Edinburgh of 13 charges of sexual assault brought by nine women. Three of those women, their identities concealed and their words spoken by actors, appear in the programme.

The hour-long film presented by Kirsty Wark also includes a claim by SNP MP Kenny MacAskill that some evidence before the court was “entirely false”. And BBC Scotland Editor Sarah Smith is seen describing Mr Salmond as a “really diminished figure”.

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Wark calls the proceedings at the High Court in Edinburgh in March the UK’s first “Me Too” trial. “It is about people’s lives and the way women and men treat each other,” she says.

One of the women tells the Newsnight presenter of her reluctance to come forward.

“I didn’t want to be a story. I didn’t want to talk about it, I didn’t want to deal with it, I didn’t want to be in the media, I didn’t want to be involved in some sort of acrimonious process. I just wanted to get on with my job and my life,” she says.

Another recalls the trauma of giving evidence. “Even now I struggle to talk about it without getting emotional.

The whole ordeal is something I wish I hadn’t had to do. But I remain firm in my belief that it was the right thing to do.”

On the moment the verdicts came in, one of the trio says: “With each not guilty verdict that came out my heart sort of stopped. I don’t know why but I thought it would be different for mine. I know what happened. And then it wasn’t. I was in absolute shock.”

Another remembers standing against a wall and sliding closer to the ground with each verdict.

“By the end of it I was just crying on the floor. It was just like being punched in the stomach.”

Mr MacAskill is asked about his claims that there was an orchestrated campaign by “dark forces” to bring Mr Salmond down and stop him re-entering politics.

When First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was interviewed by Ms Wark in June for Newsnight she called claims of a conspiracy “a heap of nonsense”.

Mr MacAskill, the MP for East Lothian, said he had spoken to several people in law enforcement, within Alex Salmond’s camp and elsewhere.

“This is tittle tattle and I can’t claim to have the hands on it, but there are individuals who gave evidence – who I know because I’ve been a member of the SNP and they were long-standing like me – I believe their evidence to have been entirely false.”

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One of the women says it was insulting to claim that a couple of women could persuade others to lie to the police and then perjure themselves. “For what? I didn’t even know who all the complainers were.”

On the day the prosecution rests, Ms Smith, Ms Wark and two other reporters are filmed in a cafe near the court discussing the case so far.

Sarah Smith, the BBC’s Scotland editor and stand-in Today host says: “Look at Alex Salmond now, in the dock, he’s a really diminished figure.

“If you think back though, he was such a towering presence. And he is very persuasive.”

Other interviewees include Jim Sillars, former SNP deputy leader, who says that there are more revelations to come.

“Alex Salmond’s character and personality was turned outside in for all the flaws to be seen. I think once people see what was done in relation to Alex Salmond, that did not need to be done, the volcano will go off underneath the SNP.”

The programme makers asked Mr Salmond for an interview but he did not respond.

The programme was made by Two Rivers Media, whose managing director is Alan Clements, Ms Wark’s husband.

It was filmed, produced and directed by Bafta award-winning Sarah Howitt, who also made The Papers, a fly-on-the wall documentary about The Herald and its sister titles.

The Trial of Alex Salmond, BBC2, Monday, 9pm.