Paralympic gold medallist and blind peer Lord Holmes of Richmond has been cleared of sexually assaulting a beauty therapist during a massage.
The nine-time Paralympic swimming gold medallist had been accused of grabbing the woman towards the end of a 90-minute deep tissue massage at a five-star hotel in London on March 7 last year under the guise of seeing what she looked like.
The jury at Southwark Crown Court returned their not guilty verdict on one count of sexual assault after five hours of deliberations.
Christopher Holmes, of Priory Road, Richmond, Surrey, was accompanied by his guide dog in the dock and rubbed his eyes and repeatedly breathed sighs of relief after the verdict was given.
The 48-year-old was helped from the dock by his wife.
He is one of Britain’s most successful Paralympians.
After retiring from sport in 2002 he went into a career in law before being appointed to the House of Lords in 2013.
Asked if he wanted to give any comment following the verdict, Lord Holmes said: “Not at the moment.”
The 48-year-old, who went completely blind almost overnight at the age of 14, was accused of groping her after asking to touch her to see what she looked like – something she had consented to.
Holmes had admitted asking to touch the masseuse, but denied having any kind of sexual motivation.
He said he uses touch “to get a sense” of people when he feels vulnerable.