Newcastle crown court. The jury at Newcastle crown court heard there was a pattern to Colin Gregg’s offending. Photograph: Alamy Press Association
The son of the founder of Greggs bakery has gone on trial accused of sexually abusing boys.
Colin Gregg, 74, a former headteacher, social worker and charity boss, denies 26 charges of indecent assault dating from the 1960s to the 1990s, relating to nine complainants.
Newcastle crown court was told on Thursday that the married father-of-three, who became wealthy after helping the family business expand, had a “strong determination to sexually abuse boys” and there was a pattern to his offending. He is accused of molesting boys in his car, at schools where he worked and in the gym at his home.
Paul Greaney QC, prosecuting, told the jury that Gregg, of Gosforth, Newcastle, held the position that “each and every one of the complainants is telling calculated and deliberate lies”.
Gregg trained as a teacher and taught at the prestigious Durham school, which he had attended as a boy, the court heard. In 1967 he joined the family business, which was started by his father, John, when it was still a modest outfit, Greaney said.
Gregg worked with his brother for three years and the pair “created a very successful and large business which, in due course, became the public limited company Greggs PLC”, Greaney said. “As a result of the growth in his family business, the defendant became a wealthy man.”
The prosecution said Gregg would claim the allegations against him were motivated by people trying to gain compensation.
In 1970 he returned to working with children but continued to work for the bakery during the holidays and remained a board member. The following year he became a social worker, then head of Talbot House, a school for what he termed delinquent children, the court heard.
Gregg later became head of the junior school at King’s school, Tynemouth, and in 1989 became director and administrator of a children’s charity which raised substantial sums.
“On the surface, he has lived a life of decency, indeed one of distinction,” Greaney said.
The prosecution case was that Gregg was a child abuser who regularly molested boys in a breach of trust. The complainants, now aged from their 30s to their 60s, were aged 10 to 15 at the time, the jury was told. As well as the nine complainants, the court will hear evidence from three others who claim they were abused.
Gregg stood trial in 1997 and was acquitted of abusing one of those three, the court heard. The other two complainants came forward after publicity about that case but it was decided those allegations should not proceed to trial.
When Gregg faced fresh allegations in 2012, he told police that similarities between the stories put forward by the nine were due to them reading details about the trial in 1997.
Greaney said: “He was asserting that those allegations with which you are concerned were copycat allegations.” He said there was evidence that Gregg “finds young boys attractive” and had a propensity to commit sexual abuse.
Gregg was said to have abused a boy in a school swimming pool, another while letting a boy drive his car by holding the steering wheel.
Greaney said: “The overall picture is now of complainants from different backgrounds, across many years, indeed decades, and across many aspects of the defendant’s life, but all making similar allegations against Colin Gregg, namely he has a strong determination to sexually abuse little boys when he gets the chance.”
The trial, expected to last six weeks, continues.