A FORMER pub landlord who walked free from court after he was cleared of molesting a teenage girl has talked of his 18 months of hell.
A judge at Bradford Crown Court directed a jury to find Charles Cartwright not guilty of indecently assaulting the 17-year-old at his pub, the Beaumont Arms in Kirkheaton.
Now, the 43-year-old has spoken out about the dramatic impact the allegations had on his life.
Mr Cartwright said: "A charge like this is one of the worst things a man can go through.
"When rumours start they grow legs and run.
"I just hope that laws will change in this country to protect people from these type of allegations, which have caused some to take their own lives or caused irreparable damage to the lives of others," he added.
"The thing that kept me going was my belief in the truth. I can't believe how far this case went. I reckon it will have cost British taxpayers around £150,000."
Mr Cartwright said his life had been a nightmare.
"I've had the possibility of a prison sentence hanging over me," he said. "I've had to endure all sorts of accusations and insinuations.
"I've had letters through the door, weird phone calls, bookings cancelled at the pub and new staff not turning up for work after the allegations were made. Derogatory posters were stuck up round Kirkheaton, on bus stops, at the church and the pub. I've had to face all this in the public eye."
The 17-year-old was a waitress at the pub and claimed Mr Cartwright groped her after he had sent her a text message asking her to return to work because he had taken a big booking.
The prosecution alleged that he asked her to help do the Mother's Day menus on the computer in the study upstairs and that is where the incident is said to have taken place.
But Mr Cartwright said his computer was away for repair at the time and he had given the police his phone so they could check if he had sent the text message.
The incident was supposed to have happened in March, 2003, and Mr Cartwright said eight police officers turned up at the pub one Sunday afternoon soon after and arrested him - in front of 150 shocked customers and his daughter, Charleda, who was then 10.
"She was distraught to see her dad taken away like that," he said.
"I was locked in a cell for five hours before I was interviewed.
"Eventually, I was told what the accusation was and totally refuted it."
Mr Cartwright went through one trial in May. But the jury could not come to a decision after several hours deliberation.
The judge intervened on Monday - the first day of the second trial - and stopped it.
Mr Cartwright's barrister, John Elvidge, had said the evidence against him was tenuous and inconsistent.
Mr Cartwright said: "This supposed event never took place. Not even 1% of the allegation is true and there was no circumstantial evidence. It did not happen.
"I've been running businesses in Huddersfield for 18 years and employed hundreds of people, mainly women," he said.
"I have never had an accusation made against me before.
"I've felt I had to speak, to let everyone know my name has now been cleared in court.
"I want to thank all my friends, work colleagues and customers who have supported me through this terrible ordeal.
"I now want to move on, because my life has been on hold for 18 months."
Mr Cartwright sold the pub in July and is now moving to Spain, to set up a leisure business in the Malaga area.
He is moving there with his partner, Lorraine Meenan, and Charleda.