Police 'witch hunt' criticised as former school master is cleared of abuse
The case against a former approved school housemaster accused of sexual abuse was thrown out by a judge today - amid stinging criticism of police investigators.
Roderick Ryall's legal team argued he had been subject to a "witch hunt" by police and alleged victims seeking to take advantage of his past convictions for child abuse.
Walking free from Teesside Crown Court, the 68-year-old condemned police handling of the case.
He was alleged to have abused two teenage pupils at Aycliffe Approved School, in County Durham, in the mid-to-late 1960s.
He was also accused of molesting a nine-year-old cub scout in the mid-1970s when he was director of social services in Calderdale, West Yorkshire.
But Mr Ryall's barrister, Tania Griffiths QC, said the complainants had used knowledge of sex offence convictions from 1988 to "jump on a bandwagon" to win compensation.
She branded the latest investigation, by Durham Police, as a farce from start to finish - an accusation that was denied.
She said: "This has been a witch hunt. It has been a trawling exercise, and it is quite unforgivable."
Outside court, his solicitor Chris Saltrese said investigators were relying on the jury's prejudice against a convicted sex offender to win the case.
Mr Ryall had described the charges made against him as "complete and utter rubbish".
Directing the jury of eight women and four men to return not guilty verdicts after they heard two weeks of evidence, Judge George Moorhouse said it had been impossible for Mr Ryall to receive a fair trial.
He said: "I have had submissions made to me to the effect that it is an abuse of process to proceed further with this trial, as a result of which there has been a great amount of publicity.
"I have concluded it would be an abuse of process to proceed further.
"It is clear that the officers conducting the investigation have not conducted themselves in a proper way."
He said an internet search using the keywords 'Ryall 2010' had produced 16,700 hits, including one directing browsers to a Leeds solicitors' website inviting people to make compensation claims against Mr Ryall.
Speaking on Mr Ryall's behalf after he was cleared, Mr Saltrese said: "Our case was that the allegations were complete fabrications.
"The real story in the case was the laziness and incompetence of the police investigation.
"They have simply sought to rely on Mr Ryall's previous convictions and the prejudice that invokes with members of the jury.
"Rather than investigate the matter properly they presented three complainants of extremely poor quality."
Mr Ryall, of Wheatley Drive, Mirfield, West Yorkshire, had denied ten counts of indecent assault on three alleged victims.
The jury has been told that Mr Ryall, who graduated from both Oxford and Cambridge universities, had previous convictions for abusing young people.
In 1988, at Leeds Crown Court, he admitted four offences of indecent assault, two of gross indecency and a charge of buggery.
Out-of-touch MPs ‘don’t get it’, says ex-Civil Service chief
George Clooney and Amal fail to get special treatment at New York restaurant
'A girl is more responsible for rape than a boy': The statement that shocked the world... except India
African jawbone discovery pushes birth of humanity back by 400,000 years
The 'sex selfie stick' lets you FaceTime the inside of a vagina
Durham Free School: 'Creationism taught at' free school facing closure
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
Ukraine crisis: Top Chinese diplomat backs Putin and says West should 'abandon zero-sum mentality'
Boris Nemtsov shot dead: Outspoken Putin critic who had expressed fears for his life is killed near the Kremlin
- 1 What happens to your body when you give up sugar?
- 2 Drugs Live cannabis trial: Hash is less harmful than any other drug, expert claims
- 3 Have sex with your iPad thanks to the new sex toy no-one asked for
- 4 African jawbone discovery pushes birth of humanity back by 400,000 years
- 5 The 'sex selfie stick' lets you FaceTime the inside of a vagina