Policeman is cleared of sexually assaulting five female colleagues but judge slams his ‘appalling prehistoric attitude towards women’
- PC Anthony Ford found not guilty of 13 offences by jury at Liverpool Crown Court
- The police officer, 32, dismissed his behaviour as ‘jokey and flirtatious banter’
- Judge described his ‘prehistoric attitude’ towards women as ‘quite appalling’
A Lancashire police officer accused of sexually molesting five female colleagues has been cleared of all charges but told to address his ‘prehistoric attitudes’ towards women.
A jury found PC Anthony Ford not guilty of all 13 offences this afternoon at Liverpool Crown Court.
The 32-year-old from Preston had firmly denied the offences and claimed his behaviour only involved ‘jokey and flirtatious banter’.
Prosecutor Fiona McNeill had alleged the offences involved ‘unsophisticated and serial groping’.
She told the jury ‘his sole driving force was momentary gratification’ and added: ‘A damn fine officer he may be but that does not place him above the law.’
PC Anthony Ford was told by the judge his ‘prehistoric attitudes towards women were quite appalling’
During his trial it was claimed his behaviour included putting his hand down the back of victims’ trousers, touching their bottoms, undoing the clasps of the bras of two women and walking down the street cupping the breasts of one of them.
Ford, who was then based in Burnley, disputed the women’s evidence and denied any of his actions were sexually motivated.
He said: ‘I never touched a bum except for a laugh or someone had done it to me.’
He said that unclipping bras was ‘a bit of a childish joke’ and said such behaviour happened ‘on many police do’s’.
He also claimed that officers touched each other on the bottom in the police station ‘quite regularly’.
He denied it was behaviour he could not control and described two of the alleged victims as ‘flirtatious’. He denied cupping the breasts of one woman and said that he only touched them later to check they were real but that was with her consent.
When asked if he felt he had done anything wrong in relation to the women he replied: ‘No.’
Richard Orme, defending, had told the jury in his closing speech Ford was ‘being made an example of by the politically correct brigade of the police and they have sought to find anything and everything to throw at him.’
He went on to describe the case as ‘absurd and ridiculous and blown out of all common sense in the brave new world in which we live now.’
Following his unanimous not guilty verdicts, Judge Andrew Menary, QC said: ‘You leave the court as you entered – a man with no previous convictions.
The jury at Liverpool Crown Court (pictured) found him not guilty on all charges today
‘But I say to you you should not take the verdicts of the jury as some verdict, by your own admission, on how you behaved in the past. There is much more to being a police officer than chasing around after drug dealers.’
‘I don’t know what is going to happen to you, as I say you have been found not guilty and I don’t know if there are pending disciplinary proceedings or not.
‘But at the very least I would think that those responsible for you in the police force ought to send you for some sort of diversity training because by own judgement your prehistoric attitudes towards women are quite appalling and you need to consider the way you behaved otherwise you will find yourself at risk of a similar situation in the future.’