AN ex-social services chief and approved school house master has denied charges alleging indecent assaults against boys.

Roderick Arthur Ryall is accused of carrying out ten offences, each involving one of three boys, all aged under 16, on various dates in the Sixties and Seventies.

Now aged 67, and living in West Yorkshire, he was a livein house master at what was then known as Aycliffe Approved School, in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, during the Sixties.

It is now Aycliffe Secure Services, catering for vulnerable and dangerous young offenders from across the country.

The Oxford graduate and Cambridge PhD student went on to join Calderdale Council, in Halifax, West Yorkshire, in the Seventies, rising to become head of social services.

Seven of the charges relate to indecent assaults on two boys, one aged either 14 or 15 and the other 13 or 14, on dates between May 21, 1966, and November 18, 1969.

The other three allegations involve a boy aged either nine or ten, between June 11, 1975, and June 10, 1977.

Dr Ryall appeared at Durham Crown Court for a plea and case management hearing yesterday.

He replied “not guilty”

when each of the ten charges was put to him during the short hearing.

His counsel, Tania Griffiths, told the hearing that she is to seek dismissal of the charges at an abuse of process hearing.

She said the defence believes it was justified in making such an application at a pre-trial hearing, partly due to the delay in the allegations coming to court, and also due to the death of some potential witnesses.

A day was set aside for that hearing, in July, while a provisional start date was agreed between Ms Griffiths and prosecuting barrister, Joanne Kidd, should the case proceed to trial.

If a trial is required it could run for up to two weeks and will begin at the court on Monday, September 13.

Judge Christopher Prince adjourned yesterday’s hearing and granted unconditional bail to Dr Ryall, of Wheatley Drive, Mirfield, near Huddersfield, to return to the court for the abuse hearing, on Monday, July 5.