A FORMER pub landlord who was accused of multiple sexual charges involving young women has had the case against him dropped after police found evidence of collusion between the complainants before any allegations had even been made.

Colin Lord, 61, who previously ran the Lord Longworth pub in Oswaldtwistle, always denied the claims against him and the Crown Prosecution Service yesterday offered no evidence against him in relation to all allegations.

They were seven charges of sexual assault, paying for the sexual services of a 17-year-old girl, three charges of inciting a 15-year-old girl to engage in sexual activity, attempting to pay for the sexual services of a 15-year-old girl and four charges of inciting prostitution for gain.

The court heard Mr Lord, of Pride Close, Blackburn, was the joint owner of the Lord Longworth pub in Oswaldtwistle and also ran a modelling and escort agency as a side business at the time the allegations were made.

Outlining the reasons why the Crown Prosecution Service had decided to offered no evidence in the case, Emma Kehoe said the police had initially struggled in obtaining social media records for all seven of the complainants, who cannot be identified for legal reasons.

She said officers were eventually granted access to one of the complainant’s social media accounts and found a group chat involving all seven of Mr Lord’s accusers.

Ms Kehoe said: “It appears they had been discussing this case, prior to them making these complaints to police and thereafter.”

She said those discussions impacted on the credibility of all seven complainants.

The court heard that three of the complainants were no longer in contact with the police and the prosecution therefore believed they no longer wished to support a prosecution. Ms Kehoe said prior to the hearing the prosecution had already decided not to proceed with one of the charges on the indictment.

Ms Kehoe said: “In a nutshell it is because of non-cooperation of complainants, not being able to prove one of the counts on the indictment, and significant undermining material that has been discovered on social media that the Crown no longer feel there is a realistic prospect of prosecution.”

Defending Rachel Cooper said the allegations reported in the press had caused Mr Lord and his family a great deal of distress.

She added: “My client is very unhappy it got to this stage. At his interview he had provided a great deal of information to the police about things that have been said which simply can’t be true.”

Recording not guilty verdicts on all charges, Judge Philip Parry said: “The matters have come crashing down as far as you are concerned. There seems to have been lying through all of this and an element of collusion between all the complainants. I suspect this has been a rather harrowing experience for you. The prosecution offer no evidence to all the allegations in this case. I record not guilty verdicts on all counts.”

Judge Parry ordered Mr Lord’s legal fees to be paid from public funds.