MORE than 120 men have been identified as taking part in sexual activity in a public toilet, after a covert police sting in Wirral.

Hidden cameras were installed in the men's lavatories in Harrison Drive, New Brighton, following complaints that men were meeting for anonymous gay sex.

On Monday, three men appeared before Wirral magistrates after they were caught engaging in public sexual activity.

A police sergeant based in Liverpool was also caught and was fined 13 days' pay.

As part of undercover Operation Winchester, two tiny cameras were installed in the toilets at waist and head height and evidence was recorded on DVD. And after the three-month blitz, 32 people were cautioned and six people were charged under the Sexual Offences Act.

Cases are still being brought through the courts.

On Monday, Patrick Kevin Gallagher, from Meadowcroft Road, Meols, was fined £400 after he was caught on camera on three separate occasions.

Defending the 51-year-old married father-of-two, Chris Murphy said: "Mr Gallagher is a man of good character and he is very ashamed that he is in court.

"This has been very devastating to his life and things are not going to get any easier for him in due course.

"He has a good job and is a family man - he knows that what he did was wrong."

Magistrates ordered Gallagher to pay a fine totalling £400 including costs.

Shaun Murphy, 40 from Brighton Street, Wallasey, was given unconditional bail and will appear again before magistrates on December 17. And James John Clarke, 51 from Bloomfield Green, Liverpool, will return to court on December 10 while "all options open reports" are prepared.

A Merseyside Police spokesman said the operation had been a success despite criticism from the lesbian and gay community that officers used "strong arm tactics."

She said: "The integrity of the operation is not under question but the consultation period with local groups could have been better."