A gay verger told a court today he had “no wish” to touch the breasts of a woman he stands accused of sexually assaulting in Wakefield Cathedral.

Nicholas Whitaker, 34, said the “brief hug from behind” was only intended as a platonic greeting, the Yorkshire Post reports.

He told Leeds County Court: “Certainly not my intention to touch her breasts. I would have no reason to touch her breasts, no wish to touch her breasts.”

The gay church assistant denied the charges, which relate to a meeting last July at Wakefield Cathedral, the tallest church in Yorkshire. Whitaker said he may have touched the woman’s breasts, but it would have been unintentional.

Whitaker said the embrace lasted for around two seconds. The woman he is alleged to have assaulted said it was between thirty seconds and a minute.

The unnamed woman had previously told the court: “He put his arms underneath my arms and just grabbed hold of my bust and groped and felt and squeezed. It was awful.

“He just stopped doing it and went off … I just felt sick, really sick.

“I just went straight to the toilet and stood there in disbelief. I gathered my thoughts, I just couldn’t believe what had happened.”

The verger said he had never “made a secret” of being gay.

The case continues.