A GRANDFATHER accused of abusing a boy at his farm in the 1970s has been described as "a very straightforward and honest man" with "a strong moral base".

Gordon Currie, now aged 81, called a number of people to give personal character references on the third day of his trial at Teesside Crown Court today.

Retired social worker Charles Mortimer, who visited the Currie family often because they fostered a child, described him as "a gentleman of good character".

He added: "I thought they were a good family to be foster parents because they were totally supportive and open. I found them a family of great strength."

Mr Mortimer, who later knew the one-time dairy farmer and newspaper columnist socially through Ripon Rotary Club, said Mr Currie had "a strong moral base".

He said: "Mr Currie is a very well-respected member of the local community with many contacts. I've never heard anyone speak of anything to his detriment."

Family friend William Stockhill, also a member of the Rotary Club, said: "I have known him as a very straightforward, honest man who you could trust."

Asked by defence barrister, David Potter, if he had ever had "the slightest concern" about Mr Currie in the 50 years he had known him, he replied: "Never."

Farmer Peter Snowdon told he jury that the defendant is a "transparently honest man" who often helped him with his "expert" weather forecasting.

Mr Currie, from Wath, near Ripon, denies gross indecency with a boy - later to become a police officer - at his farm at Bagby, near Thirsk, between 1971 and 1976.

Prosecutor Joanne Kidd and Mr Potter made their closing speeches to the jury of eight men and four women after the personal testimonials this morning.

Judge Tony Briggs began to sum-up the case before a break for lunch, but will continue this afternoon before sending the jury out to consider its verdict.