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Christopher Holmes: Blind Tory Lord and Paralympian swimmer denies sexually assaulting woman

Catherine Wylie, Molly Lymn

A Conservative peer and one of Britain’s most successful Paralympians has denied sexually assaulting a woman at a five-star hotel.

Lord Holmes of Richmond, a nine-time Paralympic swimming champion, is accused of touching the alleged victim at the luxury venue in central London on 7 March this year.

The 47-year-old, who is blind, pleaded not guilty at Southwark Crown Court on Monday morning.

Dressed in a dark suit, he was led into the court by his instructing solicitor Andrew Gilmore and sat on a seat in front of the dock behind his lawyer Alexander dos Santos.

The Conservative life peer confirmed his name as Christopher Holmes, stated his date of birth and said his nationality was British during the hearing.

His unconditional bail was renewed by Judge Jeffrey Pegden QC.

The court heard a High Court judge will be allocated to the case. A trial date has yet to be set.

Lord Holmes was a champion swimmer, winning six gold medals at the 1992 Barcelona Games and three at the Atlanta Paralympics.

He also broke 35 world records before moving into top roles in sports management and politics.

He was director of Paralympic integration for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games before taking his seat in the House of Lords in 2013.

His website says he campaigns for more accessible environments for disabled people and has been asked to head a government review that will make recommendations on how to encourage more disabled people to apply for public appointments.

Lord Holmes has also sat on a number of House of Lords select committees and has introduced a private members bill to tackle unpaid internships.

Press Association