Former town council chairman told police there is "no truth whatsoever" in sex assault claims

The Northern Echo: Peter McLaughlin Peter McLaughlin

A NORTH-EAST politician accused of sexually assaulting a teenage schoolboy on coach trips abroad told police his alleged victim made up the allegations after he refused to lend him £20,000, a court heard yesterday (Wednesday, December 4).

Peter McLaughlin, 61, said there was no truth in any of the allegations against him, a jury of ten women and two men at Carlisle Crown Court were told.

He is a former chairman of both Stanley Town Council, and Stanley Area Action Partnership, which is part of Durham County Council, and remains a town councillor.

He told detectives that, being gay, he was always careful not to put himself “in an awkward position” with other people, and he had never been alone in a foreign hotel with his alleged victim while driving coaches for a holiday firm.

But he said that when his alleged victim was about 16 he had made homophobic comments about him and his then partner, with whom he lived in Carlisle.

And many years later the boy, by then grown-up, had phoned him asking for a loan.

It was only after that, the court has heard, that the alleged victim went to the police to make a formal complaint about Coun McLaughlin’s sexual behaviour.

Coun McLaughlin, now of Murray Park, Stanley, is accused of deliberately befriending the boy so he could sexually abuse him on the regular trips he made abroad while working as a driver for Redcrest Holidays in the 1990s.

He has pleaded not guilty to 15 charges of indecent assault, covering various kinds of sexual abuse in the early 1990s.

The alleged victim has told the court that he and Coun McLaughlin had to share beds in the hotels they stayed in during their trips abroad.

In evidence he said Coun McLaughlin described the trips as “a big adventure” and said Coun McLaughlin had been “very friendly” and “fun to be around.”

The court has heard he went to the police following talks with a counsellor, after he told his wife and other close relatives what had happened to him as a child.

Yesterday the court heard that when interviewed under caution by the police last year Coun McLaughlin said the boy had never even been on a coach trip with him.

And asked if the teenager had stayed in a foreign hotel with him, he replied: “No, never ever. No way.”

He said he could never have shared a room with the boy because, when on European trips, he always had to share with one of the other Redcrest drivers.

When police asked him if there was any truth in the boy’s claims, the court heard, Coun McLaughlin replied: “No, no. None whatsoever.”

The trial continues.


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