Dave Lee Travis acquitted: did sex case become a witch-hunt?

Feb 14, 2014

'I have been through a year and a half of hell' – DJ loses reputation and £1.2m home over sex claims

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FORMER Radio 1 DJ Dave Lee Travis was described as the victim of a "witch-hunt" after being acquitted yesterday of indecent assault charges dating back 37 years.

Travis could still face a second trial after a jury failed to reach a decision on two of the 14 charges and three other women contacted police with new allegations.

"I don't feel like there is a victory in any way, shape or form," Travis told reporters outside court yesterday. "I have been through a year and a half of hell."

The former presenter said he had lost his reputation, as well as his £1.2m home to pay for his legal fees.

He was the first person to stand trial as a result of Scotland Yard's Operation Yewtree, set up after the police's failure to bring serial abuser Jimmy Savile to justice. Detectives have arrested 16 other people, two of which are awaiting trial, while the remainder are on bail or face no further action.

But even now, it is not over for Travis, says the Daily Mail. "He will soon discover, like many before him that sex allegations, even false ones, stick like chewed gum to a shoe."

Travis's barrister, Stephen Vullo, has described his case as a "witch-hunt" founded on a "total lie", while celebrity lawyer Nick Freeman called for a time limit on sex abuse investigations.

Freeman suggested a three-year limit, the same as personal injury claims in civil courts, with the time limit for children starting when they reached the age of 17.

It is time for prosecutors to "consider something as fundamental as whether they have done the job properly", says The Times today. The newspaper says it is hard to believe that due care was taken to ensure the allegations against Travis stood up on their own account.

"The disturbing thought occurs that the authorities were not concerned about the strength of each case against the accused because they hoped the sheer number of the allegations would do the work in securing a guilty verdict that the evidence failed to do. This is no way to carry on at all," it says.

But writing in The Guardian, Keir Starmer, the former director of public prosecutions, says high-profile sex cases "inevitably evoke strong reactions". In the event of a conviction, police and prosecutors are asked why the case was not brought sooner or more robustly, while in the event of an acquittal they are accused of a witch-hunt, he says.

"This lurching from one side of the road to the other only serves to store up problems for the future," says Starmer. One of the reasons that some of the victims' allegations against Savile were not pursued was because police had in the past been criticised for "trawling" for victims and became "over-cautious", not telling victims that others were making similar claims

"Do we really want another Savile moment?" he asks.

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Keir Starmer, who when DPP, always made me slightly nervous is clearly confused. The DLT case was about DLT and the burden of proof. Not 'strong public reactions.' Not another Savile moment. Not Harris or Hall. Not Roache or any other high profile case either. It was about Dave Lee Travis and the rule of law and whether there was sufficient evidence to bring a prosecution by an impartial and independent prosecution service. No political imperative or gazing into the middle distance of public opinion. No noble cause corruption. Because if we could not rely on the DPP under Starmer or indeed cannot under his successor, it is a sad day for British justice.

...I worry that there seems to be no end in sight to these "victims" emerging out of the wood-work. They should face the real prospect of civil damages if their allegations are proven to be vexatious, malicious or just plain fabrications.

Until such time, I fear, opportunistic lawyers (unburdened with too many scruples, methinks) and politically-correct public prosecutors will continue to ride this gravy train, simply because it is profitable for them to do so, while the whole process remains risk-free to the accusers.

The "elephant in the room" might be a grant of anonymity to all parties until or unless there is a guilty verdict. The argument that to go public with the identity of the accused might encourage other "victims" to come forward is entirely specious - all it seems to provide is the opportunity for more "victims" to damage the accused's reputation and livelihood - a guilty verdict might only be a secondary objective for such people - they will be satisfied in the knowledge that the damage has been done and they can walk off, scot free, whistling into the sunset - ready for their next victim.

With regard to Jimmy Saville have any of the accusations against him been tested through any form of legal process or has a "kangaroo" judged and found him guilty of sex crimes?

Well said Deloki!!!!!! Savile has been "tried" in the Court of Media Frenzy and Public Opinion - but NOT in any court of law. He has not been able to defend himself or his reputation, neither have any of his accusers or "victims" been obliged to substantiate their claims in a criminal trial.

While not being a particular fan of Jimmy Savile (during his lifetime or post mortem) surely it has to be a fundamental principle of this country's laws - innocent until proven guilty - such is definitely NOT the case with Savile.

This latter-day series of Salem Witch Trials should NEVER have been countenanced by Starmer or others in the "legal system" - shame on Britain.

You shouldn't expect a balanced unbiased view from Starmer; the man is from the feminist loony left. This is the man that has allowed the definition of domestic violence/abuse to become a catch-all definition that can get a man convicted for texting an ex to say he'll be late picking up the kids, or having a disagreement about the selling price of the former family home. Unfortunately his left wing, feminist politics have trickled down through the CPS, infected our justice system and corrupted our magistrates and district judges. The CPS will prosecute with inadequate evidence because with Politcal hot buttons such as DV or indecent assault/sexual abuse, it is easier for them to prosecute than not. They have a lot of paper and explaining to do if they decide not to prosecute and they know in magistrates courts, the scales of justice are tipped well and truly in their favour. Travis was lucky to have a jury not a district judge or a bench of magistrates.