A COUNTY police officer accused of groping a female colleague while sitting in a room packed with fellow officers has been cleared.

PC Brian King was alleged to have fondled the backside of the woman as the pair sat in the muster room at Police Scotland’s Fettes Police Station in Edinburgh.

PC King was seen to motion for the woman to sit next to him by rubbing the seat; but as she approached, he was alleged to have turned his hand over and wiggled his fingers in a provocative manner.

The female PC, who is in her 30s, said that she believed PC King would pull his hand away but as she sat down she found his hand still underneath her bottom.

She said the alleged incident had left her “humiliated and embarrassed” as about 15 fellow officers had been present.

PC King, of Port Seton, had denied making any gesture and claimed he was only spinning the seat round for the woman to sit on on January 18 last year.

But despite the woman’s testimony that she believed PC King had sexually assaulted her, the case against him was found to be not proven following a trial at Edinburgh Sheriff Cour.

However, in clearing PC King, 52, of assaulting the woman, Sheriff Adrian Cottam told the officer he was “rejecting your explanation of how things happened” and he was accepting “almost entirely the evidence of the complainer”.

The female officer told the Capital’s sheriff court during a hearing last month that the station’s muster room was “very busy” with about 15 to 20 officers getting ready to go out on patrol when a seat became free next to King.

She said: “He put his hand on the seat saying it’s nice and warm. His hand went up and I thought he was going to move it. He was moving his fingers, like in a jokey way. I thought he was just messing about and when I turned round [to sit down] I just assumed he would pull his hand away.

“I felt his hand grab my backside. It was all really quick and he pulled it away.”

The officer, who wept in the dock as she gave her evidence, said she struck out at PC King and swore at him after she believed he had fondled her bottom.

She added: “He was laughing – it was very loud. I was quite humiliated, shocked and embarrassed really. I was humiliated because everyone was looking at me – it was not a nice experience.”

The officer added she tried to “laugh it off” at the time and did not report the alleged assault to her superiors. But after talking to her husband that evening she decided to report it.

She added: “I felt like a line had been crossed.”

The officer admitted she was “nervous” about reporting PC King to her sergeant and that she was “aware this was serious”.

Solicitor Advocate Vincent Lunny asked the female officer if the fondling incident had been “an honest mistake” and that she had “misinterpreted things” after PC King had failed to move his hand in time.

The officer replied: “No.”

A series of police officers also gave evidence, with some witnessing PC King rubbing the seat and “wriggling his fingers” as she approached him.

PC Craig Davidson said: “She sat on his hand and he went a bit red. Then he said: ‘It’s funny how your bum touched my hand’. I don’t know if it was a prank gone wrong but I didn’t think it was right. Something like that shouldn’t happen in the workplace.”

PC King told the court the incident had been “an accidental coming together” and that his colleagues who claimed to have seen him wiggling his fingers had been “mistaken”.

In finding the case against PC King not proven, Sheriff Cottam added: “I am not satisfied beyond reasonable doubt there was an attack on the complainer.

“I am not satisfied it would be an assault for a person to leave their hand on a chair for a clothed person to sit on – it might be reckless at best.”