£50,000 bail as Owen Oyston is charged with four rapes

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The Independent Online
Owen Oyston, the multi-millionaire chairman of Blackpool Football Club, appeared in court yesterday charged with four rapes, three indecent assaults and conspiring to procure girls under the age of 21 for sexual intercourse.

Mr Oyston, 60, married with five children, was arrested on Thursday morning at his Claughton Hall home in Hornby, near Lancaster, and spent nearly two days being questioned at Altrincham police station in Greater Manchester. He was remanded on conditional bail at Trafford magistrates' court.

The four rapes are alleged to have taken place between April 1988 and December 1992, including two at Claughton Hall and another in London.

The three indecent assault charges relate to a period between September 1989 and December 1991.

One alleged assault is said to have taken place in Lancashire, another in Sale, Greater Manchester.

In addition, it is alleged that between 1 April 1988 and 31 May 1993, Mr Oyston conspired to procure girls under the age of 21 to have sexual intercourse in any part of the world with a third party.

Mr Oyston was accompanied by two police officers during the 10-minute hearing.

He spoke to confirm his name and also gave his address to the court. John Lord, for the prosecution, applied for a remand on conditional bail. That was agreed by Anthony Scrivener QC, for the defence.

The conditions are that Mr Oyston resides at Claughton Hall, does not contact any named prosecution witness and pays into the court £50,000 as surety. He was remanded until 27 March and ordered to surrender his passport.

Mr Oyston later posed for pictures outside Altrincham police station. Dressed in a brown Fedora hat and suede coat over an immaculate suit, he spoke briefly in the presence of his solicitor, Samuel Lee. "I am entirely innocent of these charges. I have had a lot of support from my family and friends in the very difficult last few hours. I am terribly shocked and angry about what has happened after all these years."

Mr Oyston made his initial fortune when he sold his private chain of estate agents to the Royal Insurance Group for £30m. He then expanded into the media, acquiring extensive magazine, newspaper and cable television interests. He controlled Red Rose Radio, Piccadilly Radio, Radio Aire and Red Dragon Radio before again selling out last summer.

He recently unveiled a £200m scheme to redevelop his football club's ground, and once stood for Labour in local elections, earning himself the title "the socialist millionaire".