Trains & tunnels - England football icon Paul Gascoigne pleads 'not guilty' to rail sex assault
British Transport Police (BTP) confirmed on November 19 that former Tottenham Hotspur, Lazio, and Newcastle United midfielder Gascoigne, who won 57 caps for England, had been charged with the offence and was due to appear in court on December 11.
On Tuesday, Gascoigne, 51, pleaded not guilty at Peterlee Magistrates' Court and opted for a crown court trial, which will take place on January 8 at Teesside Crown Court.
BTP released a statement confirming that Gascoigne, known widely by his nickname 'Gazza', had been charged with "one count of sexual assault by touching, contrary to Section 3 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003. The charge relates to an incident on board a train on August 20 this year."
Following the news, Gascoigne posted a series of tweets, that were afterwards swiftly deleted, denying the allegations of the offence and even stating that the police officers who detained him asked for photographs and autographs, which was denied by BTP.
In one message, Gascoigne writes he is "crying his eyes out" and suggests that the incident in question occurred when he let a woman kiss him on the cheek after he defended her from insults she was receiving from a third party on the train.Also on rt.com ‘I did nothing wrong’: Paul Gascoigne tweets then deletes his response to sexual assault charge
The first of the series read: “Hi as u know ive been charged with a sexual assault from 4 mths ago plus the police who charged me asked me for selfies&an autograph?
“Why if I did wrong ok I’m sticking up4myself my manager SHANE said say nothing leave it2 the lawyers no I’m my own lawyer I did f*** all wrong.”
On Tuesday, prosecutor Jolyon Parks told the court: "The charge has been the subject of a reveiw by the appropriate lawyers and at present the prosecution is satisfied that sexual assault by touching is the appropriate charge."
In his playing heyday, Gascoigne endeared himself to the world after shining at the Italia 90 World Cup, his tears at being suspended for the final following being booked in the semi-final match announced him to a global audience.
Since the end of his career, Gascoigne has been dogged by a catelogue of personal problems, most notably alcoholism - for which he has spent several spells in rehab - allegations of domestic violence, and also a bizarre event in which he attempted to intervene in the police manhunt for killer Raoul Moat.