A FORMER civilian employee of Durham Police and his business partner appeared at crown court this week accused of running an escort agency over the internet.

John Docherty, 28, a former finance officer with the Durham force, and 38-year-old clothes designer Douglas Fox both denied a charge of living off immoral earnings.

The pair are alleged to have knowingly lived, wholly or in part, from the earnings of prostitution, between September 30, 1999, and July 23, 2000.

Docherty was suspended from his job at force headquarters at Aykley Heads, Durham, when the allegations arose last July, although he had been on the sick for the preceding eight months.

A force spokesman confirmed Docherty has subsequently resigned from the post.

Tuesday's hearing, at Durham Crown Court, was adjourned for a trial, estimated to last up to five days.

Docherty and Fox, both of Pavilion Terrace, Burnhope, were granted bail to return for the trial in the autumn.