Peer and former Paralympian 'grabbed masseuse' and asked for 'extras'

4 March 2020, 19:33

Lord Christopher Holmes
Lord Christopher Holmes. Picture: PA

By Maddie Goodfellow

A masseuse allegedly sexually assaulted by a blind peer has told a court she was "ashamed" but did not leave the room due to fears he would accidentally injure himself.

Lord Holmes of Richmond, 48, denies a charge of sexual assault against a masseuse by grabbing her buttocks and asking to touch her breasts.

During the treatment on March 7 last year, Holmes also allegedly asked her if she "did extras" while pointing at his groin.

The blind nine-time swimming champion is one of Britain's most successful Paralympians and took up a position in the House of Lords in 2013.

Prosecutor Linda Strudwick told jurors at Southwark Crown Court that Holmes assaulted the woman near the end of his 90-minute treatment after asking to touch her to "see" what she looked like.

Giving evidence from behind a screen, the alleged victim said she was "very confused" but agreed to be touched.

She said: "I thought he wanted to see how I looked, touch my face or something - I thought blind people did that."

The court heard Holmes, who was accompanied by a guide dog, started to touch her head and was touching her face using his fingertips.

She said: "By that time I felt truly uncomfortable so I was moving my body away from him.

"Then he grabbed my bum with his hands and squeezed them."

Ms Strudwick asked: "Had he asked to do that?"

The witness replied: "No. I felt extremely uncomfortable and confused and I did not want to be there. I was trying to move myself away."

She added she felt "ashamed" by the incident.

Lord Holmes faces a charge of sexual assault
Lord Holmes faces a charge of sexual assault. Picture: PA

Jurors were told Holmes then asked to touch her breasts, and she said no.

She continued: "Then when I said this was making me uncomfortable, he pointed his hands to his crotch and said did I do extras.

"I said this was inappropriate and this made me uncomfortable and he was shushing me."

Ms Strudwick asked what the woman thought Holmes meant by "extras".

She replied: "He asked me if I was doing some sort of extra, some job or something and he doubted me and was pushing me, 'are you sure you've never done it?'"

The witness said Holmes was being "patronising, making remarks and being a disgrace" before apologising repeatedly.

She said: "When he was shushing me, he asked me to come closer to him and I refused.

"I just wanted to do the other leg, to finish the treatment and be out of there."

She said she finished the massage and stayed in the room to help Holmes.

She told jurors: "If it was not a blind person I would have left the room and called security but because he's blind I didn't want him to injure himself and be unprofessional."

The woman told her managers straight after the treatment and reported it to the police after she was seen crying at work the following day.

The court also heard messages between the alleged victim and one of her managers after she reported the incident.

One message from the woman heard in court read: "What a d**k, I don't know. I should have left but he shushed me and apologised so many times. I felt bad for the dog."

The court also heard messages from the woman's boyfriend, who told her to go to the police, report Holmes to the House of Lords and the "blind association".

Holmes, of Priory Road, Richmond, Surrey, denies grabbing the woman, pointing towards his groin or asking for sexual services, and said he only lightly touched her.

The trial continues.