A JURY was urged not to take the modern “broad brush” view that every accuser must be believed when it deliberates in the case of a former senior clergyman accused of historic abuse.

Defence counsel Andrew Stubbs was addressing the juryon the sixth day of the Durham Crown Court trial of the ex-Archdeacon of Auckland, Granville Gibson.

The 80-year-old now retired Anglican cleric, from Darlington, denies six counts of indecent assault and one further serious sexual offence.

All the allegations relate to his days as minister at St Clare’s Church, in Newton Aycliffe, in the late 1970s and early eighties.

They were said to have been committed on a teenage member of congregation, an 18-year-old community service worker and a fledgling churchman, in his mid-20s.

Making his closing speech to the jury, Mr Stubbs said there has been a “sea change” in how society approaches cases of alleged sexual abuse in this country.

But Mr Stubbs warned that, “society can make errors”, and, “the truth can become an inconvenience”.

“Remember this, the broad brush sweeps before it both the guilty and the innocent. History has many examples just when that has taken place.

“Suspects become offenders automatically, without any court process, without any consideration whether or not an accuser is false.

“If you deliberate on the basis every accuser must be believed you are coming at the case from completely the wrong angle.

“It’s as if the pendulum of public opinion is being swung in entirely the wrong way.”

Urging jurors to analyse the evidence, “coolly and calmly”, he said they should consider each allegation separately.

Mr Stubbs urged them against adopting a, “no smoke without fire”, attitude.

“It’s not a ‘nudge, nudge, wink, wink’ approach.

“That’s the approach of the lynch mob. The system demands, and expects, more from jurors than that.”

Mr Stubbs added: “After eighty years’ blameless existence, the work he (Mr Gibson) has done inside and outside the Church makes it more likely he’s telling the truth and less likely he’s guilty of what is said about him.”

Earlier, Paul Cleasby, prosecuting, said the defendant abused his “powerful” stature in the Church to carry out the abuse, particularly with the two more vulnerable teenagers, who would be less likely to be believed.

“Considering all the evidence in the round and looking at the defendant’s account, and then look in reality at how closely and accurately the victims remember things, you can be sure they told you the truth about what happened to them.

“Then, you can be sure that the defendant is ‘guilty’ of that which he was charged.”

Judge Christopher Prince will sum up the evidence and law in the case to the jury, tomorrow (Tuesday August 2).