A GRANDFATHER accused of abusing a boy at his farm in the 1970s was today (Thursday, August 28) cleared by a jury in less than an hour.

The verdict came after Gordon Currie was described as "a very straightforward and honest man" with "a strong moral base".

Mr Currie, 81, called a number of people to give character references on the third day of his trial at Teesside Crown Court.

Retired social worker Charles Mortimer often visited the Currie family at their North Yorkshire home because they fostered a child.

Mr Mortimer described him as "a gentleman of good character" and said: "I found them a family of great strength."

He added: "I thought they were a good family to be foster parents because they were totally supportive and open with us."

Mr Mortimer, who later knew the one-time newspaper columnist socially through Ripon Rotary Club, said he 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, told the jury: "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 the court that the defendant is a "transparently honest man" who often helped him with his "expert" weather forecasting.

Mr Currie, from Wath, near Ripon, denied gross indecency with a boy - later to become a police officer - at his farm at Bagby, near Thirsk, in the 1970s.

His accuser had earlier told the jury of eight men and four women that he had nothing to gain by lying about what he alleged had happened to him as a child.

During the defence case, Mr Potter asked Mr Mortimer: "Did you have any concerns with any aspect of the Currie family?"

Mr Mortimer, a former area social services officer for North Yorkshire County Council, replied: "None whatever."