A FORMER councillor accused of indecently assaulting a young girl, yesterday told a jury he "completely denied" the allegation.

Harry Devine was giving evidence on the fourth day of his retrial at Durham Crown Court, having pleaded not guilty to the charge.

It relates to the alleged indecent touching of the girl, then aged either ten or 11, as he helped her out of wet clothing on their return from a trip to Scarborough, in either 2001 or 2002. Mr Devine said: "Nothing ever happened with the girl, she would be the last person I would harm."

He said that he became friendly with the girl's mother, with whom he had a platonic relationship and, as a result, came to know her daughter. He said: "She was a really lovely kid. I thought the world of her mother.

"They were my friends. Anything she needed I would get for her."

But he said his relationship with the daughter deteriorated in about April 2003 because she told him of things she had done with boys.

He also said that on one occasion, she asked to have sex with him. He said: "I was shocked. From that day, I would say that my relationship with her went down the pan."

Mr Devine said that during May 2003, she went into more detail about her involvement with boys.

The court heard he then told the girl that he wanted nothing more to do with her.

The court heard that weeks later, the alleged indecent assault came to light and that Mr Devine voluntarily attended Peterlee Police Station, where he was arrested and interviewed.

Mr Devine, of Salter's Lane, Wingate, east Durham, a former Easington district councillor, was charged with indecent assault, but a jury at a previous trial failed to reach a verdict.

The trial continues.