Wren's lover says no-touch rule unbroken

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THE LOVER of the senior Wren at the centre of a military sex scandal yesterday denied breaking the "no-touching rule" while they both served on the aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious.

Lieutenant Nigel McTear admitted having sex with Lieutenant Commander Karen Pearce in a hired car during shore leave in Malta in February, 1996. But he denied taking her back to her cabin after a party with up to 70 people on board the ship.

During the court martial of Lt Cdr Pearce's former lover and boss, Lieutenant Colonel Keith Pople, Lt McTear confirmed that the men's showers were close to his lover's cabin and it would have been possible for men to visit her early in the morning or late at night.

And during cross examination by Rhyddian Willis, for the defence, he said that her cabin could have been set out with cushions and bedding on the floor so two people could have sex. But he added: "There is a no- touching rule on ship."

Lt Col Pople is accused of having a three-year affair with Lt Cdr Pearce while he was her superior at a key Ministry of Defence team in Whitehall. Lt Col Pople, 42, is also accused of bombarding her with threatening phone calls and letters after their break-up in June, 1996.

He denies two charges of scandalous conduct and conduct to the prejudice of good order and military discipline.

If found guilty at the court martial in Aldershot, Hampshires, he would be dismissed from the Army after a 20-year career.

The hearing was told yesterday that Lt McTear moved in with the Wren in October 1996 after her affair with Lt Col Pople had broken up.

But he moved back with his second wife over Christmas and only decided to move back again with Lt Cdr Pearce, 34, after he left Britain on Illustrious in the January. He continued to contact Lt Cdr Pearce and kept the relationship secret from his wife.

When Illustrious returned to Portsmouth he moved in with his lover and told his wife over the phone about the end of their marriage. Ms Willis said: "She had been in the dark about what you were doing?" Lt McTear said: "Yes".

The hearing continues.