Inglis cleared of final five abuse charges against boy

Trial has reinforced my belief in justice system, says politician who was accused of indecent assault

Rob Waugh

THE former chairman of Humberside Police Authority was yesterday cleared of a final five charges of indecent assault against a teenage boy at a children's home in the early 1980s.

Colin Inglis, who was also the leader of Hull City Council, had previously been found not guilty of a further eight indecent assaults on the order of a judge and found not guilty of another count by a jury at Leeds Crown Court.

The alleged victim, who is now a 37-year-old financial adviser, claimed that Coun Inglis abused him between April 1982 and August 1983 when he was a resident at Spring Cottage children's home in Hull, where the politician worked as a social worker.

But Inglis's defence counsel, Malcolm Swift QC, told the jury that the complainant had lied about the abuse, citing a series of inconsistencies in his evidence. He said he held a grudge against the Labour politician because he was gay and had obtained political prominence.

The alleged victim, who was between 12 and 14 at the time of the alleged indecent assaults, had claimed that Inglis performed oral sex on him in his room at Spring Cottage.

He said Inglis, 49, also committed other assaults on him, including on a trip to North Wales and on trips to play squash at Haltemprice sports centre, Hull.

But Mr Swift said his account was a "pack of lies, invention, fabrication and elaboration".

"(The complainant) is a liar who cannot be believed," he added.

"He has a clear grudge against Mr Inglis. He has a propensity to make false allegations."

He said his account was "like Pinocchio's nose – it grew so much it left the original story far behind and took on a life of its own."

The court was told that Inglis's relationship with the boy had been examined in a previous police investigation by Humberside Police into Spring Cottage in 1997, which did not lead to any charges.

Inglis has always strenuously denied all allegations.

Outside court, Inglis's solicitor, Alistair Hewitt, read out a statement on his client's behalf which said: "I've always believed strongly in the presumption of innocence, the right to silence and the right to trial by jury.

"Despite attempts by many politicians of both main parties over the past dozen years to water down these principles, this trial has reinforced these beliefs.

"Finally, I will be discussing with my legal advisers the actions of Sky News and The Times and Yorkshire Post Newspapers and the contribution they made to this prosecution with a view to taking action against them."

The inquiry, which was carried out by detectives from North Yorkshire Police, was prompted by a Sky TV investigation into Coun Inglis in 2004.

Later, a Sky News spokes-man said the news channel stood by "its investigation and its related reports".

The alleged victim last night issued a statement through the Phoenix Survivors support group thanking North Yorkshire Police for their efforts and saying he was "bitterly disappointed" with the verdict.

He added: "I do have more to say on this but would ask everyone to leave us alone to take in what has happened, recover ourselves and consider our options."

What do you think? Click the link to have your say.