AN ex-Witherslack Hall teacher has described a former colleague as "a verbal bully" - but insists he never saw him assault any pupils.

Five men who formerly worked at a Grange school are on trial at Carlisle Crown Court. They each deny charges alleging mistreatment of boys during the 1970s and 1980s.

Roger Whitehouse, 78, of Sea View, Haverigg, is one of those on trial.

He was cross-examined yesterday while giving evidence.

Asked by prosecutor Keith Sutton whether he ever made a boy walk barefoot in a quarry, as alleged by a senior staff member, Whitehouse replied: "He says that happened. It didn't."

Asked about allegedly assaulting that same boy, he responded: "What he describes didn't happen." And, when asked whether he allegedly assaulted a second boy, Whitehouse insisted: "No. That didn't happen either."

Co-defendant Alec Greening, 69, taught at the school for around a decade, and also gave evidence.

Greening denies one charge alleging cruelty. Asked whether he made a boy stand outside in snow while wearing only PE kit, he told jurors: "Absolutely not."

Greening spoke of empathising "very strongly" with pupils, saying: "They respected me because I was fair but firm."

In a police interview, Greening described Whitehouse - who later sacked him from another school - as "evil", "vindictive" and a "bully".

"The word I regret using is 'evil'," he told the jury, later adding: "I didn't like the man but I could work with him." On reflection he felt the word "nasty" was more appropriate to describe the "strict disciplinarian".

"I think he was over-strict," said Greening. "I didn't like the way he imposed discipline. He would pick on children for minor things. He would tear them apart."

He described Whitehouse as a "verbal bully" but insisted: "He did care for the boys." Asked if he ever saw Whitehouse hit a child, Greening said: "Oh, never. I can't see him ever hitting anybody."

Greening's barrister, Rosalind Emsley-Smith, asked: "Did you witness any violence being used towards children at the school?"

"No," Greening replied. "I saw some very strict discipline but not violence."

Asked about "positive" times at Witherslack, Greening, of Dalton, Burton-in-Kendal, stated: "There were so many positives we could be here a week, easily."

The trial continues.