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Ex-Stagecoach chief is fined for soliciting male prostitute

A FORMER executive employee of Stagecoach millionaire and Keep the Clause campaigner Brian Souter yesterday admitted in a US court to soliciting a male prostitute, and was fined $1500 (#1000) by a Texas judge.

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William Hinkley, 51, commonly known as Barry, was the executive director responsible for Stagecoach UK bus operations stretching from Inverness to Devon, as well as forging links between Scotland and the American transport company Coach USA. But yesterday, the once prominent businessman, of Bassenthwaite, Cumbria, spoke in a barely audible voice when he informed Harris County Court Judge Mark Atkinson that he would not fight the prostitution charge against him. Married father-of-two Hinkley was fined and also ordered to pay $250 in court costs. He could also face being barred from re-entering the United States due to tough immigration rules. Crimes like his, although a class B misdemeanour, can be grounds for deportation. He had arranged through an escort service that turned out to be a police sting operation for a ''sex date'' costing $100, prosecutor Warren Diepraam said. His arrest proved an embarrassment for Stagecoach tycoon Brian Souter, who led and bankrolled the Keep the Clause campaign, and backed a private referendum on the Scottish Executive's proposals to change the law banning the promotion of homosexuality in schools. Although the clause has now been repealed, Ministers have agreed to recognise the importance of heterosexual marriage in classroom lessons. Hinkley had become caught up in an undercover police sting in June after telephoning a fictitious escort agency while on business in Texas. The man he subsequently invited to his bedroom in the luxury Omni Hotel where he was staying was actually an undercover vice squad officer. When asked what kind of sex he wanted, the executive replied: ''All of it.'' After attempting to hand over money for intercourse, Hinkley was arrested, and later charged. After coming home in disgrace, he was subsequently forced to resign from his #222,000-a-year position at Stagecoach. Last night his wife Helen, who has been married to Hinkley for 12 years, refused to discuss the outcome of the case. Stagecoach entered the North American bus transport market last year by agreeing to the $.8bn purchase of Houston-based Coach USA Inc, the United States' leading bus charter service. Hinkley had been a member of the team which was integrating Coach USA into Stagecoach and also played key roles in the company's UK and Hong Kong operations.

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