A JURY has been sworn in to try a church minister accused of a string of alleged sexual offences dating back more than 30 years.

The Reverend John Wilson, 70, of Shann Avenue, Keighley, denies 24 charges of indecent assault, four allegations of conspiracy to commit indecent assault, two offences of rape and a count of sexual assault.

His wife, Mary Wilson, 79, of the same address, pleads not guilty to two charges of indecent assault and a single allegation of conspiracy to commit indecent assault.

A third accused, Laurence Peterson, 59, of Eric Street, Keighley, denies three charges of indecent assault and four allegations of conspiracy to commit indecent assault.

Wilson, who was a pastor at the Liberty Pentecostal Church in Sunderland Street, Keighley, appeared in the dock at Bradford Crown Court yesterday alongside with his wife and Peterson to witness the jury being sworn in.

Judge David Hatton QC ordered that two further potential jurors were balloted in case they were needed to take the place of any of the selected panel members.

He told the jurors, eight men and four women, that they were not needed in court today as the trial would not begin until Wednesday.

Prosecutor David McGonigal will open the case, telling the jury what the Crown was alleging against the three defendants and the first witness will begin giving evidence on Thursday.

The case concerns allegations of the historic sexual abuse of women congregation members at the church.

The judge warned jurors not to do any research into the case on the internet or elsewhere and advised them not to look at media coverage of it.

The defendants, who have all requested the hearing loop system to assist them throughout the trial, are all on unconditional bail.

The trial is listed to last up to six weeks, with the jury retiring to begin considering its verdicts by early September.