George HW Bush has apologised to an actress who claimed that she was sexually assaulted by the former US president.

One of the stars of the television series Boardwalk Empire, Heather Lind, made the allegation in a now deleted Instagram post that Bush groped her at a TV screening in 2014.

She claimed that the 93-year-old "didn't shake my hand" and "touched me from behind from his wheelchair", all of which took place next to the former first lady Barbara Bush.

The actress also said that he told her a "dirty joke" and touched her a second time while they were being photographed.

"Barbara rolled her eyes as if to say 'not again'. His security guard told me I shouldn't have stood next to him for the photo," claimed Lind.

US media outlets have since reported that a spokesperson for Bush said that the president between 1989 and 1993 would "never under any circumstance intentionally cause anyone distress" and that he "most sincerely apologises if his attempt at humour offended Ms Lind". The statement didn't refer to 2014, when the alleged incident occurred.

The allegation comes amid a growing scandal in the US following the accusations from several actresses against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault, harassment and rape.

Lind, 34, said that she felt now was the time to speak out after seeing Bush alongside former US presidents, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, George W Bush and Barack Obama at a hurricane relief fundraiser last week.

In her Instagram post, Lind said: "It seems to me a president's power is in his or her capacity to enact positive change, actually help people, and serve as a symbol of our democracy.

"(Mr Bush) relinquished that power when he used it against me and, judging from the comments of those around him, countless other women before me."

"What comforts me is that I too can use my power, which isn't so different from a president really. I can enact positive change. I can actually help people.

"I can be a symbol of my democracy. I can refuse to call him president, and call out other abuses of power when I see them."

Heather Lind
Actress Heather Lind appears onstage during the 'AMC's Turn: Washington's Spies' screening and panel discussion on June 15, 2017 in New York City Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for AMC