The nine women who accused former first minster Alex Salmond of sex assault have spoken. They are devastated by the verdict.

They would be. A jury delivered a majority verdict that cleared the former SNP leader of all the charges against him.

But these women have now delivered their own damning verdict on the case. And it makes very uncomfortable reading.

A verdict on a society that continues to allow perpetrators in positions of power to be shielded by their ability to influence and intimidate.

And a justice system that allows a lawyer to say that demeaning, humiliating and intimidating behaviour is “trivial”.

That’s the word Gordon Jackson QC used as he successfully defended Salmond against all 13 charges, making a distinction between those charges that were serious and those where he just should have been a “better man”.

And he also used one phrase that should have made us all recoil when he said it.

He said Salmond told how he and Woman H had a “bit of how’s-your-father before then”.

You can say that phrase in the right tone of voice and with a wink and everyone thinks it is OK? At the High Court in Edinburgh? In 2020?

It is demeaning and belittling. It is like a bad joke in a poor 70s sitcom. Or an old Carry On film.

So it’s not surprising that the women in their statement chose to pick out the words and language used by Jackson.

The QC is a man of a certain age and time with an ego as large as that of the man he was representing. His gruff exterior and vast courtroom experience and skill are well tuned.

It’s no surprise that Salmond turned to a man much like himself to front his defence.

The Scottish justice system has moved on since the days when victims of alleged sexual assault had to hold up their ­underwear in the witness box or discuss their sex life and previous partners.

But as Rape Crisis Scotland and the women in the Salmond case have said,  there is still much work to be done. There are still ­mountains to climb.

As a society, we need to call out bullying, harassment and sexual assault at every turn.

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Employers, whether it is in government, the private or public sector, have got to have proper procedures in place to deal with that.

The women involved in Salmond’s case clearly want the verdict to stand for ­something.

To provoke debate and change to ensure that no women’s complaints are ignored or swept under the carpet.

So to Woman A, Woman B, Woman C, Woman D, Woman F, Woman G, Woman H, Woman J and Woman K, we hear you. And we are with you.