A PRISON officer's job is secure after an allegation that he assaulted a former partner was dropped on the day of a scheduled trial.

Alan Johnson, 44, denied a charge of assault causing actual bodily harm, following an incident involving an ex-partner last October.

The case was listed for trial due to start at Durham Crown Court yesterday. But when the hearing opened, prosecuting barrister Jane Waugh told the court: "The case has a long and complicated history, some of which I have only just learned this morning.

"After consultation with the complainant and the Crown Prosecution lawyer in the case, the decision has been taken to offer no evidence."

Defending barrister Nick Cartmell told the court: "This is a very emotional time for Mr Johnson.

"He is a serving prison officer and a not guilty verdict is needed for him to continue in that employment.

"It has always been our case that these allegations were malicious."

Dismissing the case, Recorder John Muir told Mr Johnson: "You come to this court as a man of good character with no convictions. You can leave with your name intact."

Recorder Muir also agreed to make a defendant's costs order.

Mr Johnson, of South Moor, Stanley, works at the top security Frankland Prison, at Brasside, on the outskirts of Durham.