A longstanding Barnstaple councillor and former leader of Devon County Council has denied sexually assaulting three different women in the 1990s and 2000s.

Barnstaple Councillor Brian Greenslade, aged 71, pleaded not guilty to two counts of indecent assault and one of sexual assault by touching when he appeared at Exeter Crown Court today (Friday, May 17).

Mr Greenslade, of Marwood, near Barnstaple, is alleged to have indecently assaulted two women between January 1, 1994 and December 30, 1995.

He is also accused of sexually assaulting a third woman by sexual touching between June 1, 2005 and January 30, 2006.

The offence of indecent assault was abolished by the Sexual Offences Act of 2003 and replaced by the new offence of sexual assault.

Judge Peter Johnson set a provisional trial date of February 24 next year and released Mr Greenslade on bail. He said any application to move the case to another court centre would be heard later.

The next hearing will be a pre-trial review on July 19 this year, at which Mr Greenslade will not have to appear in person.

William Mousley, QC, prosecuting, said he believed the case could be tried fairly at Exeter Crown Court.

Richard Crabb, defending, said Greenslade's case is a total denial that any of the alleged offences took place.

Mr Greenslade remains a non-aligned member of Devon County Council. He is a former Liberal Democrat leader of both Devon County Council and North Devon District Council.

He ceased to be a district councillor when he gave up his seat at the local elections held on May 2 this year.