A RENOWNED chef from Worcestershire has been cleared of sexually assaulting a young woman in his hotel room.

TV chef Patrick McDonald – who is food ambassador at New College Worcester for blind and visually impaired children – had always maintained his innocence and as he was released from the dock yesterday he called out ‘thank you’ to the panel of jurors.

The 56-year old, who was head chef for England’s senior rugby team and lives in Suckley, was cleared of one count of sexual assault by unanimous verdict at Oxford Crown Court after jurors deliberated for two hours and 21 minutes.

After the verdicts had been handed down, presiding Judge Maria Lamb thanked the panel for their commitment to the three-day case.

During the trial prosecutors had alleged that Mr McDonald had invited a woman – who cannot be named for legal reasons – up to his hotel room at the Randolph in Oxford on February 27.

Jurors were told that the chef, who was working as a caterer for the England rugby squad at the time, groped his alleged victim after forcing his tongue into her mouth and rubbing his hands over her clothing.

Taking to the witness box to defend himself on Thursday, Mr McDonald denied any wrongdoing. He said: “I suffer from a bad back. I went to pick [my key] up by kneeling down. As I got up I rested my hands either side of her to support myself.

“I said ‘come on we need to go’ and I was ushering her out the door.

“She turned and put her hand on top of mine. I looked at her and withdrew my hand immediately. I am stood upright at this point and she lunged forward and kissed me full on on the mouth. I was pretty shocked...I said let’s go, I am busy.”

He went on to deny shutting and dead-locking his hotel door before running his hands over the woman’s body.

The father-of-three was arrested later that night and said that he was ‘mortified’ to find he was facing allegations and had been let go by the England team when the charges came to light.

Mr McDonald had told the jury that the alleged victim had “launched herself” at him earlier on the day of the incident. “She shouted ‘hi’ then came bounding to me, gave me a huge hug, wrapped her arms around me and there were pecks on the cheek. It was so over the top, it was not normal,” he said.