THE jury in the “grooming trial” of 10 men accused of raping and sexually exploiting two teenage girls in Bradford has been told that such cases “have baggage and attract a lot of comment”.

Barrister Robin Frieze said in his closing speech on behalf of Naveed Akhtar: “Any person in the dock facing a trial like this starts off in a considerable position of disadvantage.”

Akhtar, 43, of Bradford, denies three allegations of raping one of the girls, now a woman in her mid-20s, when she was 16 or 17.

Mr Frieze said at Bradford Crown Court: “These are not counts of moral impropriety or being sleazy, these are counts of non-consensual sex.”

He said the teenage was “friendly, flirty and talkative,” with Akhtar.

“He may not have wanted a meaningful, long-term relationship but it doesn’t make it rape,” Mr Frieze said.

“It doesn’t make it a non-consensual relationship because he did not take her for a walk in the park or to the cinema. There were not hearts and flowers involved, necessarily.”

Mr Frieze said Akhtar did not rape the girl or put pressure on her to have sex with anyone else.

“As far as he is concerned, the net has been cast too widely. Not all the people who sit in the dock in such cases are guilty,” he said.

Alphege Bell, Parvaze Ahmed’s barrister, said the girl loved him. She rang him in the early hours and was disappointed when she did not get to see him.

Ahmed, 36, of Bradford, who denies three counts of rape, was “clear, credible and consistent,” when he stated the girl always consented to the sex.

“She was confident, bubbly, witty and engaging,” Mr Bell said.

“She affirmed her consent again and again and again.”

Mr Bell told the jury: “The Crown is trying to suggest that ‘yes’ means ‘no’. That is an affront to common sense and against the weight of the evidence.”

Geraldine Kelly, for Izar Hussain, known as Billy Joe Joe, said the girl had made up the allegations against him after he had been rude and abusive to her.

Hussain, 32, of Bradford, denies three counts of rape and one of attempted rape.

Miss Kelly asked why the girl would have repeatedly gone back to his address if he had violently raped her.

She had been “mashed out of her head” on drink and drugs and the jury would need to be sure she was a truthful, reliable and accurate witness.

Frances Hertzog, for Zeeshan Ali, 32, of Bradford, said the girl was “paralytic” on the night she accuses him of a single charge of sexual assault.

The teenager had been drinking spirits for five hours and was “as drunk as she had ever been.”

She could not walk and could not remember the other men she was with that night.

“Her memory of all of this is hazy at best and completely unreliable at worst,” Miss Hertzog said.

She added: “The evidence against him is exceptionally weak and wholly unreliable.”

Also on trial are:

Mohammed Usman, 31, of Bradford, who denies two charges of rape.

Fahim Iqbal, 27, of no fixed abode, who denies a charge of aiding and abetting rape.

Basharat Khaliq, 38, of Bradford, denies who five counts of rape and one count of assault by penetration.

Saeed Akhtar, 55, of Bradford, who denies two counts of causing/inciting child prostitution and one of rape.

Yasar Majid, 37, of Milton Keynes, who denies one count of rape.

Kieran Harris, 28, of Dewsbury, who denies two counts of rape.

The trial continues.