An SNP politician has told a court Alex Salmond sexually assaulted her during a journey in his ministerial car and was left feeling “surreally awful”.
The complainer, known as Woman C, said the former first minister of Scotland had offered to give her a lift to Edinburgh Waverley Station in February 2011 when the incident occurred.
He is on trial at the High Court in Edinburgh over accusations of sexual assault, including an attempted rape. The 65-year-old denies all the charges.
Woman C told the trial on Wednesday that she was “gobsmacked” when he allegedly put his hand on her leg for part of the journey and the experience was “surreally awful”.
Appearing behind a grey screen, the complainer added: “At some point in the journey Mr Salmond put his left hand on to my leg just above my knee.
“It wasn’t a kind of quick touch, maybe you’re chatting and the hand goes out and comes back, he had his hand there and it stayed there for the duration of the journey.”
She added: “I suppose when you look back at things you realise how much you excuse a person because of who they are.
“It’s so hard to explain how much he means or meant to our party. It’s because of who he is and what he was – who on earth was I going to tell?”
Shelagh McCall QC said Salmond denied ever touching her leg but this was rejected by the prosecution witness.
The complainer added: “I absolutely wish that was the case because then I would not have to be here today.”
Earlier, a senior Scottish Government official said she felt “disgusted” after Alex Salmond ran his hands down her body at a nightclub in Edinburgh in December 2010.
The complainer, known as Woman A, said: “He ran his hands down the curve of my body, over my hips, commenting ‘you look good, you’ve lost weight’.”
When asked if she had wanted Salmond to touch her in this way, she said: “No, not at all.”
Lawyers representing Salmond claimed the incidents were not distressing to the woman in any way.
Gordon Jackson QC, representing Salmond, said: “Let me suggest the reality is these events, such as they were, were absolutely nothing, they were not distressing in any way, shape or form.”
Mr Jackson said “trivial things” turned into criminal charges after newspaper reports emerged that Salmond was being investigated.
But the woman said: “I don’t decide what criminal charges are.”
Mr Jackson added: “It’s hardly groping – would you call that groping?”
She replied: “Yes. He touched my breast, my waist, my hips.”
The lawyer then questioned why the alleged incident in the nightclub had not been mentioned in six police interviews.
Woman A said she was surprised they had not come up.
She earlier claimed the 65-year-old sexually assaulted her in Glasgow between June and July 2008.
It was alleged he kissed her on the mouth and touched her buttocks and breast over her clothing on several occasions.
She told the court she did not want such contact with him but did not know what would happen to her if she told the “most powerful man in the country” to stop.
She said: “I came to expect something like that to happen during my days with him during that time.
“There was no need to be that physically close. There was no need to move his hand.
“There was no need for that to happen without him meaning to do it.”
Earlier in the trial, a guest at Bute House said a former Scottish Government official was at a dinner there on the evening Salmond is alleged to have tried to rape her.
The complainer, known as Woman H, has spoken about two alleged incidents, including one charge that the 65-year-old tried to rape her in June 2014.
Salmond’s lawyer had previously suggested she had not been at the dinner that night.
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.
The trial, before judge Lady Dorrian, continues on Thursday.