‘Lies,’ says charity worker accused of sexually assaulting clients

A Royal British Legion case worker accused of sex attacks on women has denied he did anything inappropriate to any of them.

Michael Furniss, giving evidence to the jury at Lincoln Crown Court, said he was “shocked” and in disbelief when he was arrested accused of sexual assaults on four women who he visited as part of his role of assessing their applications for help from the charity.

“I was shocked at being interviewed by the police. I’d done nothing wrong,” he said.

He admitted he hugged clients, but said he asked them first and only continued if he was given consent.

He also denied prosecution claims that he kissed women and put his hand up the skirt of one woman.

“A hug isn’t sexual. I hugged most of my clients. A hug is reassurance.”

When asked by his barrister Karen Walton, “have you ever used your position with the Royal British Legion to breach the trust of any woman by sexually assaulting her or touching her?” he replied, “No I haven’t”.

He said he had never given a client a hug or a kiss without consent and had never made lewd or crude comments to clients.

Furniss said the women who gave evidence against him had lied to the jury and he could not understand why they would do that.

He admitted he may have patted the knee of the woman who says he put his hand up her skirt and inside her pants but told the jury nothing further happened.

“It would been impossible. The table leg was in the way. I had no wish to do that and it would have been impossible. I never touched her under the table.”

Furniss, a former RAF serviceman who began working for the Legion on a voluntary basis after he retired, is accused of sexually assaulting four female clients while working for the Legion.

Furniss, 62, of Shuttleworth Court, North Hykeham, denies one charge of assault by penetration and five charges of sexual assault involving a total of four women.

The charges relate to the period between 2013 and 2017. He denies any of the incidents happened.

The trial continues.