In Depth

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

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

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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