A FORMER English teacher and sports coach at a now-closed school near Keighley has gone on trial accused of sexual offences against 20 boys.

Peter Holmes, 73, who taught at the former Malsis school, in Cross Hills, has denied more than 40 charges relating to allegations of buggery, indecent assault and indecency with a child covering a 25-year period beginning in the late 1970s.

A jury at Bradford Crown Court heard how Holmes allegedly told some boys to strip down to their underwear to use a rowing machine in his flat while he watched them.

He is also alleged to have indecently assaulted other boys by applying Deep Heat cream to their legs and thighs.

Holmes, of King Street, Bristol, is also accused of two offences of buggery in relation a complainant who reported his allegations to the police in 2020 after memories of the abuse came back to him after he attended therapy sessions.

Opening the trial to the jury prosecutor Michael Morley said Holmes had been employed at the Cross Hills school between 1976 and 1991 as an English teacher and a rugby and cricket coach.

He outlined details of a series of allegations which included an incident when Holmes instructed a boy to massage him and another when he took a sauna naked with another youngster.

Holmes is also alleged to have “cuddled” another boy in a tent during a camping trip to the Lake District.

Mr Morley alleged that some of the offending was clearly sexual in nature, but he alleged that other incidents were also motivated by the defendant seeking sexual gratification.

During police interviews Holmes denied any sexual abuse or improper conduct.

Mr Morley told the jury: "We anticipate he will say the incidents you are going to hear about either simply did not happen or his actions were innocent in nature and have simply been misunderstood.”

The jury heard that police inquiries were carried out into activities at the school in the 1990s and although Holmes was not the focus his name and behaviour was raised as a matter of concern.

But Mr Morley said by then the defendant was working abroad and the investigation went no further at that time.

The trial is expected to last several weeks.