THE former chairman of Cleveland Police Authority appeared in court today charged with perverting the course of justice.

Dave McLuckie, a Redcar and Cleveland borough councillor, indicated a not guilty plea when he appeared at Newcastle Magistrates’ Court.

The charge relates to an incident that took place between April 14 and May 31 in 2005 when he is accused of persuading a man, named in court as Maurice Ward, to accept responsibility for an endorsable road traffic offence.

Mr McLuckie, whose address was given as Skelton, east Cleveland, represented himself during the short hearing this morning .

Outside court, he said that he felt there had been a “witch hunt” against him but didn’t elaborate on the claim.

The councillor, who is currently suspended by the Labour party while the legal proceedings are active, was a prominent member of the police authority at the time of the alleged offence.

The incident took place just weeks before Mr McLuckie moved from being the vice chairman of the police authority and replaced Ted Cox as the chairman in June 2005.

He stood down as the chairman in May last year after almost six years in the post.

The borough councillor was arrested on October 16 this year more than seven years after the incident is alleged to have occurred.

The 51-year-old was given conditional bail and will appear at Newcastle Crown Court on December 20.