A Three Towns police sergeant has walked free from court after rape charges against him were dropped.

Blair Pettigrew, 35, from Ardrossan, was due to stand trial at Edinburgh High Court charged with rape and sexual assault but the case collapsed last week.

The former Volunteer of the Year was yesterday re-instated as President of North Ayrshire Athletics Club.

And the Executive Board of the club this week accused Police Scotland of conducting a “fishing trip” or “witch hunt” in their bid to make a case against Mr Pettigrew.

The club claimed officers “contacted, interviewed then re-interviewed countless female volunteers, coaches and parents of club members in what we believe was an entirely fruitless attempt to discover criminality”.

Sgt Pettigrew had always denied the allegations – which spanned from 2005 until 2015.

The dad-of-two now faces an internal enquiry by Police Scotland, with a national newspaper claiming that one of the alleged victims was coerced by other police officers into making false allegations.

A spokesperson for the Crown Office said: “It is the duty of the Crown to keep cases under review and after full and careful consideration of the facts and circumstances, including the admissible evidence currently available, Crown Counsel instructed there should be no further proceedings at this time.

“Should the evidential position change, the Crown reserve the right to re raise proceedings. “The complainers in the case have been advised of the decision.”

A spokesperson for Police Scotland said: “We acknowledge the decision by COPFS.

“Any reports of crimes committed by police officers or staff are investigated thoroughly.

“As soon as the circumstances in this case were reported an investigation was conducted and a report was submitted to the Procurator Fiscal.

“Police Scotland is absolutely committed to thoroughly investigating reports of sexual crime and providing the necessary support and advice to victims, irrespective of who the person suspected is or when the incident took place.”

They added: “A report will be submitted to the Assistant Chief Constable, Professionalism and Assurance for his consideration.”

The Herald contacted Blair Pettigrew for comment but he refused as he is still employed by Police Scotland.

In their full statement, the Executive Board of North Ayrshire Athletisc Club said: “North Ayrshire Athletics Club note with interest the conclusion of the criminal matter surrounding our Trustee and President, Blair Pettigrew.

“The club have not made any public comment until today due to the matter being sub-judicial but feel strongly that now is the right time to share our views on the matter.

“We want to state on the record that the work Blair has done for the club over the past five years since he became involved in the charity has been nothing short of remarkable.

“Being named the Scottish and then British Volunteer of the Year was completely deserved and he has transformed this club and the life of many of its members.

“Everyone at the club has been completely behind Blair since he voluntarily disclosed the matter to the board of the club a number of years ago.

“What then followed was, what can best be described, as a fishing trip, or possibly, more accurately, a witch-hunt with little regard for proportionality by Police Scotland who contacted, interviewed then re-interviewed countless female volunteers, coaches and parents of club members in what we believe was an entirely fruitless attempt to discover criminality.

“Concerned at the central position the club was playing in the enquiry without any contact or disclosure from police, the club wrote to Police Scotland to clarify its position.

“It was provided with a bland and unhelpful response.

The athletics club board added: “Blair tendered his resignation against the wishes of the board of the club in an attempt to prevent any further damage to its reputation.

“We are delighted to have him back in his role at the club and hope the relevant authorities review in detail the matter in question.”