England

Ex-Tremeloes Leonard Hawkes and Richard Westwood acquitted of assault

Leonard "Chip" Hawkes (left) and Richard Westwood, who were members of the 1960s pop group The Tremeloes, celebrate outside Reading Crown Court after being formally acquitted Image copyright PA
Image caption Leonard "Chip" Hawkes (left) and Richard Westwood celebrate outside Reading Crown Court after being formally acquitted

Two former members of the 1960s' pop group The Tremeloes have been acquitted of indecently assaulting a 15-year-old girl after a gig almost 50 years ago.

Leonard "Chip" Hawkes, 70, and Richard Westwood, 73, were due to stand trial next year over allegations they assaulted the teenager in a hotel room in Chester in April 1968.

However, a judge at Reading Crown Court ordered both men be found not guilty.

Prosecutor Owen Edwards said there was no evidence to offer.

Outside the court, Mr Hawkes - father of 90s' pop star Chesney Hawkes - said he and Mr Westwood were delighted a "black cloud" had been taken away by the verdict.

"The past two years and seven months have been the worst time of our lives," he added.

"Our families have had to endure the stress and media publicity and it's taken its toll on all of us."

Mr Hawkes, from Surrey, has undergone treatment for bone cancer.

He said the case had badly damaged his career and revealed he had been attacked by a member of the public before a previous court appearance.

He thanked the two men's families, friends and fans for their "unfailing loyalty and putting up with two grumpy old men".

Image copyright PA
Image caption Richard Westwood, 73 (second left), and Leonard "Chip" Hawkes, 70 (far right), with their wives Lynn (left) and Carol outside court

Mr Westwood, from Berkshire, said his 50-year career had been "tarnished" on the basis of "spurious allegations" and added the accusations had caused "years of trauma".

In a statement, read by his solicitor, he said: "It is too late for me and my family to get back the years of our life that have been destroyed in this process.

"We were punished and suffered for something that was simply not true."

He added he had faced trial by media before police had gathered evidence.

"It is a disgrace and wholly misleading that a single claim dating back more than 48 years ago was never properly investigated before my good character was attacked," he said.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Richard Westwood (left) and Leonard Hawkes, pictured here in 1971, were both members of The Tremeloes

The Tremeloes formed in 1958 in Dagenham, London, and first charted in the UK in July 1963 with a version of Twist and Shout.

They had a string of hits throughout the 60s, including a number one with Silence Is Golden.

Guitarist and vocalist Mr Westwood left in 2012. Bass player and vocalist Mr Hawkes left in 1988.

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