A COUNTY councillor has issued a statement strenuously denying a rape charge after appearing in court.

In Warwick Crown Court last month, Mike Rouse pleaded not guilty to one count of raping a woman aged 16 or over and also denied sexually assaulting a woman aged 16 or over, between February 21 and February 23 last year in Coventry. The charges relate to one complainant.

READ MORE: Worcestershire councillor Mike Rouse denies rape charge

The Worcestershire County Councillor, who has been suspended from the Conservative party, has now issued a statement.

He said: "I wrote to the Group Leader in May to ask that he suspends me from the Conservative Group on Worcestershire County Council in keeping with party rules, which require my suspension in the event of being charged with a criminal offence. I have also referred myself to Conservative Central Office.

"I have been charged by the CPS in connection with an allegation relating to a single event in my private life involving an adult female, and which does not pertain to my official public responsibilities in any way.

"I have and continue to fully cooperate with the legal process. I attended one voluntary interview and was never placed under arrest. 

"For clarity, I vehemently refute any suggestion of illegality and am committed to vigorously defending my innocence against the charges in court in due course.

"The constraints of our legal system prevent me from providing further details on the case at this juncture. However, I want to reiterate my steadfast denial of any wrongdoing.

"I extend my heartfelt gratitude to all those offering unwavering support during this challenging period, and especially to my wife who has been my rock through all of this.

"I deeply regret the distress that news of this situation may cause to my friends and loved ones who may only be learning about this for the first time now, and earnestly request privacy for my family at this time".