A senior policeman accused of a string of theft and deception offences against his own force has denied the charges.

Sussex Police Detective Chief Inspector Peter John Salkeld is charged with 18 offences - eight of theft, nine of obtaining property by deception and one of obtaining a money transfer by deception - between May 1997 and July last year.

The 41-year-old, of The Avenue, Shoreham, pleaded not guilty to the charges at Maidstone Crown Court today.

It is alleged he used a Sussex Police credit card to purchase goods, including padlocks, a mini-fridge, a watch, a DVD player, compact discs and road atlases, from high street stores.

He is also accused of deceiving his employer by claiming more than £1,200 from the Sussex Police Welfare Fund to pay for caravan equipment.

Some of the charges of theft from his employer relate to an expensive fountain pen, and dry cleaning and car valet service costs.

Salkeld is also accused of deceiving a woman called Eileen Savage, of Hove, East Sussex, over whom he had power of attorney, by falsely representing that the £55,000 sale price for her home was fair.

He is also accused of stealing more than £84,000 from her, and of dishonestly obtaining more than £70,000 from Brighton and Hove City Council by falsely claiming that she had insufficient capital assets to pay for her care.

Salkeld was suspended from his job in the police operations department at Gatwick Airport in January last year.

A directions hearing was set for April 27 at Maidstone Crown Court and Salkeld was granted conditional bail.