SCOTLAND'S top trade union boss has opened up about her experience of sexual harassment in the workplace as she raised concerns over the damaging fallout of the Alex Salmond case.

Rozanne Foyer, the first female general secretary of the Scottish Trades Unions Congress (STUC), said the reaction to the former first minister's trial "speaks volumes about where we are, culturally, with regards to women’s rights".

She said some of Salmond’s admitted actions "amount to abuse of power in the workplace", while his case has exposed the "deep-rooted, endemic, male-dominated, deeply conservative culture that still exists".

Salmond was cleared of multiple sexual assault charges at the High Court in Edinburgh earlier this year.

During his trial, he rejected claims he had sexually assaulted one civil servant in a bedroom of Bute House, the first minister's official residence.

Instead, his lawyer, Gordon Jackson QC, put it to the woman that there was "a bit of cuddling between the two of you and you ended up lying side by side on the bed".

He added: "It was described to me as a sleepy cuddle."

Salmond told the court he later apologised to the woman and said she had a "legitimate grievance, even if [her account] wasn't what actually happened".

Writing in the Herald on Sunday, Foyer, who is the most senior representative of Scotland’s 540,000 trade union members, said: "I haven’t worked with Alex Salmond but I was once a civil servant, and I too once received an apology for inappropriate behaviour.

"It didn’t make me feel any better then and it doesn’t make me feel any better now."

She said she was 17 years old, "enthusiastic, eager to learn and yes probably a bit naïve" when the incident involving a senior manager occured.

She lost her confidence and enthusiasm, suffered panic attacks and later moved to a different department – but the experience helped spark her later workplace activism.

Foyer, who was appointed general secretary of the STUC earlier this year, added: "The Alex Salmond case has opened up discussion and debate, and we must tackle this face on."