Consent will be the "central issue" in the trial of suspended Metropolitan Police officer PC David Carrick.

Mr Carrick, from Stevenage, appeared via video-link from HMP Belmarsh at Snaresbrook Crown Court in north-east London today (Friday, May 27).

He has been charged with 44 alleged offences, including 21 counts of rape relating to 12 reported victims.

Herts Advertiser: A court sketch of suspended PC David Carrick, after an earlier hearing at Woolwich Crown Court in February 2022A court sketch of suspended PC David Carrick, after an earlier hearing at Woolwich Crown Court in February 2022 (Image: Elizabeth Cook/PA Wire/PA Images)

Herts Advertiser: HMP Belmarsh, where PC David Carrick is in custody (File picture)HMP Belmarsh, where PC David Carrick is in custody (File picture) (Image: Anthony Devlin/PA Archive/PA Images)

During today's hearing, he spoke only to confirm his name, and to plead not guilty to 15 charges put to him today.

These relate to offences which allegedly took place between 2004 and 2020.

The suspended officer has now denied all 44 charges levelled against him since his arrest in October 2021.

Among the charges referenced today are accusations that Mr Carrick raped a victim in woodland, hit her with a belt and urinated in her mouth without her consent.

Another charge relates to alleged assault by penetration, when Mr Carrick is believed to have penetrated a victim's anus with a dildo without her consent.

Mrs Justice Cheema-Grubb set a trial date of February 6, 2023, which is due to take place at Southwark Crown Court in central London.

It is estimated that the trial will last eight weeks.

The judge warned of a "substantial trial of very serious criminal charges".

She added: "The issue is going to be centrally consent."

Throughout the hearing, Mr Carrick sat motionless in a room at the prison, which is in Thamesmead near Woolwich.

Mrs Justice Cheema-Grubb remanded Mr Carrick to custody.

The charges in full are: 21 counts of rape; nine counts of sexual assault; five counts of assault by penetration; three counts of coercive and controlling behaviour; two counts of false imprisonment; two counts of attempted rape; one count of attempted sexual assault by penetration; and one count of causing a person to engage in sexual activity without consent.

The PC was working in the Metropolitan Police's Parliamentary and Diplomatic Command when he was first arrested by officers in Hertfordshire on a single rape charge last October.

He was suspended from the Metropolitan Police and was handed the additional charges between the time of his initial arrest and May 9 this year.

A spokesperson for the Met said after today's not guilty pleas: "We recognise the very serious nature of the offences that Carrick is accused of.

"The Met’s Directorate of Professional Standards continues to monitor developments closely and misconduct proceedings will continue following the conclusion of the criminal case.

"We will continue to provide whatever support we can to Hertfordshire Constabulary and the Crown Prosecution Service as they prepare for the upcoming trial."