South Scotland

Video link witness gives evidence from Australia in Fred Talbot trial

Court sign Image copyright PA

A witness has given evidence via video link from Australia in the trial of former TV weatherman Fred Talbot.

The man told a court he awoke in his tent to find Mr Talbot making a sexual advance during a school trip to southern Scotland in the early 1980s.

He told a jury he found Mr Talbot, then a teacher at his school, stroking his hand in a sexual way.

Mr Talbot, 67, of Greater Manchester, denies assaulting several boys on school trips between 1978 and 1981.

He also denies a further charge of lewd, indecent and libidinous practices and behaviour towards a boy aged 12.

Six of the incidents are alleged to have happened on camping excursions in Moffat in Dumfries and Galloway, and three on boating trips on the Caledonian Canal in Inverness.

The 51-year-old witness, who now lives in Australia, was giving evidence on the third day of the trial at Lanark Sheriff Court.

He said Mr Talbot was a biology teacher at the school in the Manchester area where he was a pupil. He said he went on a camping trip to the St Mary's Loch area in the Borders in the 1980s, which was led by Mr Talbot.

Stroked hand

The man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, told how the group put up their tents and then went to a pub.

The witness, who was 15 at the time, said he had three or four pints of shandy and beer, and became "merry".

When they got back to the camping area, he went to his two-man tent, in which Mr Talbot and another pupil were also due to be spending the night.

"I think I had been asleep and then I was aware that my hand was being stroked in the tent," the witness said.

"The only person who could be doing that was Mr Talbot next to me.

"I can recall (doing) something to the effect of pulling my hand away and rolling over and saying 'I don't understand you'," he said.

He told depute fiscal Imran Bashir the stroking was in a "sexual way" and added: "My feeling at the time was it was a sexual advance."

'Very naive'

The witness said he felt "pretty embarrassed" about what had happened, adding: "I think I felt I'd been very naive about what other people had said about him, that there was actually some truth in it, it wasn't just rumour."

He said he did not report the incident at the time because it would have been "my word against his".

Mr Talbot's media career later developed and he left the school, jurors heard.

"I remember thinking it was a good thing that he'd taken himself out of the place where he was tempted into doing things that were inappropriate," the man said.

Alan Gravelle, defending, asked whether school gossip about Mr Talbot had influenced his perception of what happened.

"I would say 'no'," the witness replied.

Mr Gravelle also suggested any contact may have been inadvertent and accidental.

"There's nothing in my mind that would concur with that," the man added.

The trial continues.

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