Ryan Hope
Dorset Lib Dem councillor Ryan Hope.

A Liberal Democrat councillor has been suspended from the party – four months after he was charged with raping a child.

Ryan Hope was charged with one count of raping a child, one count of rape, one count of sexual assault of a child and two counts of sexual assault.

He denied all counts when he appeared in court in Dorchester in September.

The allegations span the period from 2005-12 and related to a single victim who is now 17 years old.

His party said no action had been taken earlier against the 21-year-old representative for Weymouth and Portland because of a "communications failure".

A Liberal Democrat spokesman said: "These are extremely serious allegations. Cllr Hope has been suspended both as a Liberal Democrat member and councillor pending the outcome of his trial.

"This should have happened last year but a failure to communicate the situation from the local party to the national party meant this did not happen."

Hope, from Weymouth, was the youngest member of the borough council when he was elected at the age of 20 in May 2012.

He is due to face trial in April.