Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Labour councillor Denies Paying Teenager For Sex

A 62-YEAR-OLD former councillor sat in the witness box yesterday and denied paying a teenage girl for sex.

Richard Manser's alleged sex partner, Joanne McKenna, now 20, is on trial accused of robbing him at knifepoint.

Manser denies giving McKenna cash for sex for three years, starting when she was 16.

The ex-Labour councillor, who quit after the scandal, insisted he did not admit to prosecutors in the case that he had a sexual relationship with the young woman.

And he compared his friendship with McKenna to the relationship between Henry Higgins and Eliza Doolittle in George Bernard Shaw's famous play Pygmalion.

In the play, Higgins turns street urchin Eliza into a fine lady by teaching her to speak properly.

Asked by McKenna's advocate why a man of 60 would have a relationship with a teenage girl, Manser replied: "I hesitate to mention the name of George Bernard Shaw but there was a bit of Pygmalion involved.

"I am no Henry Higgins and she is no Eliza Doolittle but she was a waif and needed a father figure. I was quite happy to help her."

McKenna, her dad and her then boyfriend deny attacking Manser with a Bowie knife and a Samurai sword and putting him through a two-hour ordeal at his home in Paisley near Glasgow.

Prosecutors claim the trio stole Manser's bank card and McKenna used it to withdraw £600.

Manser told the High Court in Glasgow that McKenna was "a friend and a nuisance" who was always pestering him for cash for cigarettes.

He said she came to his flat on the night of the attack, asked for money, then went to buy cigarettes.

Manser said McKenna then burst back into his home with her father Thomas McKenna and a man he didn't recognise.

He claimed Thomas McKenna was brandishing a Bowie knife and the other man had a Samurai sword.

Manser said that in the two hours that followed, Thomas McKenna hit him on the head with the Bowie knife and guided a kitchen knife in his daughter's hand to "dig" it into the side of his face.

He said his wrists were bound with plastic ties and a sponge was put in his mouth and held with tape.

Manser claimed Joanne McKenna left the flat with his bank card. He said Thomas McKenna told him that if she came back empty handed, he was dead.

Manser quit Renfrewshire Council and the Labour Party after Joanne McKenna spoke to a paper about their alleged relationship.

McKenna's counsel, Sarah Livingstone, accused him of falsely accusing her client of the attack and telling police "a pack of lies" to get back at her. He replied: "I emphatically deny that."

Manser admitted owning porn videos but denied showing them to Joanne McKenna. He also denied asking to film her as she took part in unnatural sexual activity with him.

The witness told Miss Livingstone he quit the council to get a redundancy deal and left the Labour Party because he did not agree with Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.

But after the judge warned him that he had to answer the questions, he admitted the party suspended him after a complaint from Joanne McKenna, and he resigned.

Manser said he was "completely exonerated" by the Committee on Standards in Public Life.

Joanne McKenna, Thomas McKenna, 40, and Joanne's then boyfriend Michael Collins, 25, deny forcing their way into Manser's flat on December 7 last year, detaining him against his will, assaulting him to his severe injury and robbing him of his bank card. Joanne McKenna also denies using the card. The trial continues.


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