A FORMER police officer accused of targeting young women to sexually assault has been defended by his wife.

Malcolm Fawcett, who is facing 11 charges against four women, has admitted that he could be 'crass and unprofessional' but strenuously denied all of the charges.

His wife Audra, a serving Detective Inspector at Durham Police, told Teesside Crown Court that her husband would often hug and kiss people in a friendly manner, but it was always 'reciprocated'.

Giving evidence during his trial, Mrs Fawcett told the jury that her husband was regularly greeted at Brancepeth Castle Golf Club by people who gave him a hug or a peck on the cheek.

Fawcett's barrister, Caroline Goodwin QC, asked his wife if there had ever been any problems at the club with women.

"Absolutely never, nothing at all," Mrs Fawcett replied. "I have never seen any tension or avoidance – it has always been a friendly relationship"

A former colleague of the couple, who was also in charge of the catering at the golf club for several years, told the court that they were unaware of any complaints made against Fawcett concerning his behaviour.

And when it was put to David Threadgill that he would have swept the concerns under the carpet, the retired police officer categorically denied the claim.

The trial continues.