Stagecoach director in gay sex case quits

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The Independent Online

A senior executive in the Stagecoach travel company run by Brian Souter, the anti-gay rights campaigner, has resigned after being arrested for allegedly soliciting gay sex in Houston, Texas.

A senior executive in the Stagecoach travel company run by Brian Souter, the anti-gay rights campaigner, has resigned after being arrested for allegedly soliciting gay sex in Houston, Texas.

William Barry Hinkley, an executive director, was detained last month at a plush hotel, by an undercover vice officer posing as a prostitute.

Mr Hinkley, 51, from Cumbria and one of Mr Souter's most trusted executives, had resigned as chairman of Stagecoach's UK buses division with immediate effect, the company said yesterday.

Mr Hinkley, who was appointed in December 1998, was in America to complete the takeover of a new Stagecoach subsidiary, Coach USA.

The affair is a huge embarrassment to Mr Souter, the company's owner and co-founder, and a devout Christian. A major donor to the Scottish National Party, Mr Souter bank-rolled a £1.5m campaign against proposals by the Scottish parliament to scrap Section 28, which bans council from promoting homosexuality.

In May, his campaign, Keep the Clause, staged Britain's first privately funded mass opinion poll, attracting 1.09 million votes, nearly 87 per cent of those cast, against scrapping Section 28. Despite that result, the Scottish parliament repealed the measure last month.

John Cannon, a spokesman for Houston police, would not comment on reports that Mr Hinkley had telephoned a fake escort agency set up by the vice squad. He said: "Mr Hinkley agreed to pay money in exchange for a sex date. Then he was arrested."

Mr Hinkley was taken to county jail, and charged with solicitation of prostitution, a misdemeanour. He was bailed, and is expected to appear in Harris County Court Number 13 next month.

Mr Hinkley was promoted to become head of the bus division of Stagecoach UK during afundamental shake-up of the company's operations when two other directors left.

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