Paralympian peer sex assault trial collapses due to sickness

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Lord Holmes of Richmond leaves Southwark Crown Court, in London, where he is due to stand trial for sexual assault.Image source, PA Media
Image caption,
As Christopher Holmes, he represented Great Britain at four Paralympic Games

The trial of a Paralympian accused of sexually assaulting a masseuse at a five-star hotel has collapsed after the prosecutor became unwell.

Lord Holmes of Richmond, who is blind, is alleged to have grabbed the massage therapist's buttocks during a treatment last March.

The 48-year-old denies the allegations.

Jurors at Southwark Crown Court were dismissed only a day after the trial began as prosecutor Linda Strudwick was unable to continue.

High Court judge Mr Justice Nicol told jurors: "I am afraid I have been told Ms Strudwick is unwell; she was unable to continue this case.

"As a result of this, there is not somebody who can stand in at such short notice and I am afraid I have no option but to discharge you from dealing with this matter."

The case will be referred to the Director of Public Prosecutions to decide if the peer will face a second trial.

Champion swimmer Lord Holmes won nine gold medals and broke 35 world records during his sporting career.

He later worked as a director of Paralympic integration for the London 2012 Games and took his seat as a Conservative peer in the House of Lords in 2013.

He is currently non-affiliated and does not belong to any parliamentary group.

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