THE ex-leader of South Somerset District Council will still trial for sexual assault after appearing at South Somerset Magistrates Court this week.

Richard Pallister, better known as Ric, appeared in the dock on Wednesday (July 8) charged with 23 counts of indecent assault.

Mr Pallister was originally due to appear before Yeovil Magistrates Court on Mach 31, but his case was delayed as a result of the coronavirus lockdown.

The 73-year-old, of Weston Street, East Chinnock, is a former Royal Navy officer, OBE recipient, and was first elected in 1999.

Mr Pallister was district councillor for the Parrett ward for nearly 20 years and the leader of SSDC for seven years. He stood down as leader in the summer of 2018, and did not seek re-election in May 2019.

Of the 23 charges, 12 of the alleged offences involved a victim under the age of 14.

Four of the alleged offences involved a victim who would have been under the age of 16 at the time.

The accusations stretch over a 19 year period, from 1985 to 2004.

At South Somerset Magistrates Court on Wednesday, Mr Pallister pleaded not guilty to all 23 charges.

He is now set to stand trial at Taunton Crown Court on August 10. He was released on unconditional bail.