Ex-Councillor Cleared of Abusing Boy
A former council leader and police authority chairman was yesterday cleared of sexually abusing a teenage boy more than 20 years ago. Colin Inglis, 49, was found not guilty of five charges of indecently assaulting the 13-year-old boy during the early 1980s, when he was a social worker at a children’s home in Hull. The boy, now 37 and a senior financial adviser, had claimed that Mr Inglis performed numerous sex acts on him in the home, at a sports centre and on a camping trip.
His evidence was contested strongly by the Labour politician, whose defence team accused the complainant of telling “a pack of lies, invention, fabrication and elaboration”. Mr Inglis, who chose not to give evidence during his two-week trial, is the former leader of Hull City Council and former chairman of the Humberside Police Authority.
The jury was not told during the trial that in 1997, when the boy was first questioned by police about his relationship with Mr Inglis, officers were investigating abuse allegations against the politician made by another former resident of the home. Nor were they told that in 1987 the father of a third boy complained about the relation- ship between Mr Inglis and his son. Neither complaint led to any criminal prosecution.
The prosecution told the jury at Leeds Crown Court that “the credibility and reliability” of the complainant was at the heart of the case. The defence said that he held a political grudge against Mr Inglis.
Malcolm Swift, QC, for the defence, also claimed that the complainant was motivated by homophobia — Mr Inglis is openly gay — and had hoped to sell his story. Mr Swift said that the alleged victim had a propensity to make false allegations. His account was “like Pinocchio’s nose — it grew so much it left the original story far behind”. While Mr Inglis’s good name had been “dragged through the mud”, the complainant would be able to “slink back into anonymity”.
Graham Hyland, QC, for the prosecution, had urged the jury to think carefully about the alleged victim’s motivation — given that he had a stable working and family life — for telling his story to the police. They should ask themselves, he said, why he would put himself through a court case if his allegations were untrue.
The man said that he had tried for many years to block out memories of his time at the children’s home but had been tormented by flashbacks. He claimed in court that Mr Inglis had performed oral sex on him, showered naked with him and fondled his genitals while he was having a bath.
Mr Hyland suggested that if the boy had manufactured his entire story because of malice towards Mr Inglis he would have had no reason not to allege more serious offences.
He said that any discrepancies in the allegations could be explained by the passage of time. Mr Inglis originally faced fourteen counts of indecent assault, but eight charges were dropped on the orders of Judge James Stewart, QC, and Mr Inglis was cleared by the jury of one charge on Friday.
Outside the court, Alistair Hewitt, Mr Inglis’s solicitor, read a statement in which Mr Inglis said that he had “always believed strongly in the presumption of innocence, the right to silence and the right to trial by jury”. It added: “Despite attempts by many politicians of both main parties over the past dozen years to water down these principles, this trial has reinforced those beliefs.”