SEVEN men have appeared in court following one of the country's biggest inquiries into sexual and physical abuse.

The men who worked at Medomsley Detention Centre, near Consett, County Durham, appeared before Newton Aycliffe Magistrates' Court today.

Christopher Onslow, 71, John McGee, 73, Johnson Brian Greenwell, 70, and Neil Sowerby, 61, face charges of misconduct in public office, physical abuse and sexual offences.

David McClure, 62, Alan Bramley, 69, and Kevin Blakey, 65, face charges of misconduct in public office and physical abuse charges only.

Their addresses cannot be reported for legal reasons.

The charges arises from an investigation – named Operation Seabrook – which was launched in August 2013 and is one of the largest of its kind in the UK.

All seven defendants spoke only to confirm their name and date of birth.

None entered pleas and were all released on unconditional bail to attend Teesside Crown Court on January 16.

Medomsley closed in 1988. Teenage inmates at the young offenders' centre typically spent six to eight weeks at the Home Office-run facility before being released.

Such offending would now typically be dealt with by community punishment.