A Tory councillor is to go on trial today after pleading not guilty at Brighton Magistrates to public order charges after allegedly making homophobic remarks.

Cllr Peter Willows, 75, of Brighton and Hove City Council allegedly likened homosexuals to paedophiles.

The incident happened at a reception hosted by the mayor of Brighton and Hove. Many prominent members of the gay community and gay media were at the function.

Cllr Willows is facing charges under Section 5 of the Public Order Act, which outlaws language causing alarm, distress or harassment.

If found guilty by the magistrates Cllr Willows could face a maximum jail term of up to six months or a £2,000 fine.

Cllr Willows has been a long standing Tory councillor in the city.

The Conservative group on the City Council has suspended him from all committees pending the outcome of the case.