Sunday, September 06, 2015

Excessive use of the power of arrest in Britain.  Great distress was caused to a British celebrity when he was arrested based on unsubstantiated accusations

With his warmth, humour and supreme knowledge of music, broadcaster Paul Gambaccini is loved and respected by millions. So when he was arrested over flimsy abuse claims, there was disbelief.

Yet within weeks he was out of work, denounced, shunned by former friends – a witch-hunt worthy of the Soviets.

Until today he has kept silent. Now, though, in this truly disturbing first account of his ordeal, he describes becoming the helpless victim of official prosecutors – who seemed determined to stop at nothing to secure a celebrity conviction...

October 10, 2014

I rise at 6.30am in still-dark New York City. Today is the last day on which my bail might be renewed. I will either be released or charged. As I shave, a panic attack sets in. I manage to stagger to the bedroom where my husband Christopher is still sleeping. The room swirls around me.

At 7.45am, Chris takes a phone call. ‘I have good news,’ he says with tears in his eyes. ‘No further action.’

Suddenly, I can move without fearing I’m going to fall over. I no longer think I’m going to be sick and I’ve stopped sweating.

The official statement from the Crown Prosecution Service is both gratifying and horrifying: ‘We have decided there is insufficient evidence to prosecute in relation to allegations of sexual offences made by two males believed to be aged between 14 and 15 at the time of the alleged offending.’

In other words there is no – and never was – a case against me.

But this is the first time the specific allegations have been made public. The CPS is trying to drag me down with a smear that will stay with me to the grave and beyond.

The CPS disseminates lies. It’s time to stop respecting it just because it has the word ‘Crown’ in its name.

One year earlier... October 29, 2013

My name is Kafka. Franz Kafka.

At 4.38am I am woken from deep sleep by my doorbell. I decide to ignore it. When it rings again, I look through the peephole and instantly know what is happening.

I open the door to Officer One who tells me he is from Operation Yewtree and I am under arrest for blahblahblah sexual offences.

Christopher emerges from the bedroom in time to hear: ‘You are under arrest.’ I look at Officer One and ask: ‘Is this what you wanted to do when you grew up?’

I am to accompany One and his companion, Officer Two, to Charing Cross police station. The rest of the posse remain to search my home for incriminating material. I am asked if I have diaries and reply that I have 38 years of them. All are taken.

Officer One and Two are polite and encourage me to have my normal breakfast of orange juice and croissant before I go. ‘I would not recommend the food in the canteen,’ one says. I put on a blue suit and my wedding shirt, kiss my husband goodbye and enter the underworld.

I have considered a visit from operation Yewtree likely ever since the Metropolitan Police, having failed to stop the serial offender Jimmy Savile in his lifetime, set up a dedicated phone line and website, and encouraged members of the public to accuse celebrities of sexual offences.

I had been the first to speak out about my former Radio 1 colleague, and as a result, my photo had appeared next to his in the newspapers. All it would need was a couple of fragile individuals to take up the Met’s invitation, add two and two and get five. For several months I have been plagued by periods of darkness.

When I step into the cell in Charing Cross police station, I have been there in my mind before. Now the day is here. I am Yewtree 15, following in the footsteps of Gary Glitter, Dave Lee Travis, Max Clifford, Rolf Harris, Freddie Starr, Jim Davidson [he was never charged] and Jimmy Tarbuck.

I resolve to say something that is obviously by me and not a battery of lawyers. It comes to me instantly, because it is the truth. ‘On Monday 28 October, I attended an excellent production of the musical The Scottsboro Boys at the Young Vic. It concerned a group of black men in Alabama in the 1930s who were falsely accused of sexual offences. Within hours, I was arrested by Operation Yewtree. Nothing had changed, except this time there was no music.’

Anyone knowing the story of The Scottsboro Boys would know that a lynch mob gathered outside their cell, just like the witch-hunt mentality that has gripped Britain in the wake of Savile. As Christopher later points out, there is another parallel: the Scottsboro Boys were falsely accused by two white girls whom they had never met. I am being falsely accused by two white men whom I do not recall meeting.

My solicitor, Zahir Ahmed, arrives and reads me the accusations, which involve a variety of sexual acts that supposedly took place between 1978 and 1984 when my accusers were aged between 14 and 17. All are said to have taken place in my old flat and that of a neighbour in Hyde Park Square, London. I’ve never seen so much horse manure in all my life. How could the police be so dumb as to fall for this?

I write out a statement before we enter the interview room. I agree I lived in the flat between 1975 and 1983, but vehemently deny the offences. I also deny performing most of these acts during those years, even in consenting adult relationships. It is possible that I may have met my accusers while I lived in Hyde Park Square, but I do not recall them.

Both Officer One and Officer Two are civil throughout a six-hour interview in which the conversation ranges from the banal to the titillating. I describe the layout of the building and amuse the police with a terrific story involving a rock star friend.

After a couple of hours we have a break and I phone Christopher. It is like a hit of oxygen. He tells me the police have taken away sack-loads of stuff and that the BBC website is reporting that two men have been arrested – a 64-year-old and a 74-year-old. I am Yewtree 15 and he is Yewtree 16.

Back in the interview room, I am hit with a further accusation – that I engaged in a threesome with my neighbour, Yewtree 16. I react spontaneously. ‘Not only have I never had a threesome, if I did it would not involve 16.’

I tell police about everyone who lived in my flat. I mention an American ex-girlfriend, Debbie, who is now married and living in New York. ‘I’ll take that one,’ Officer One jokes. I realise he’s actually not joking and that someone is likely to fly to New York to see Debbie.

I emerge from the lengthy session to be informed that I am not charged with any offence at this time. I am released on bail until January 8, 2014. Both of my computers are gone and so is Christopher’s. His cameras are gone. So are my US and UK passports, my diaries and iPhone. A number of my tapes have also been removed. I imagine an officer with his feet up on a desk watching my old shows.

Luckily, no one took the iPad. I call my brothers and a few close friends and colleagues. I realise I am now living in a parallel universe. I am going to need a heavyweight team to meet the Met.

The press are circling. An email from a tabloid claims I was seen by eyewitnesses leaving my building shortly after 5am, that the paper is going to name me the next day and invites my comment. Of course, they cannot name me unless I do comment. Curious eyewitnesses at 5am. The weight of the State against me. The press at 20 paces. I am going to have an interesting year.

October 30 & 31, 2013

My arrest is one of the worst-kept secrets in police history; a cordon of journalists, photographers and TV cameramen surrounds my apartment block.

My neighbour, Lee Evans, comes over to sympathise. ‘You want me to get the boys to take care of them?’ he asks in one of his comedic voices. I might have expected humour from Lee. I didn’t expect him to stand at his 12th-floor window and moon the press.

I dread the bandwagon effect. Everyone accused in the recent witch-hunt has experienced fresh allegations of molestation after their name has been publicised.

Otherwise, my attention is focused on my Saturday night Radio 2 show. The BBC makes it clear I will continue on air until I am named or charged and will then return when I am cleared.

November 1, 2013

The press cordon is still in full effect. We cheer whenever it rains. A tabloid website names me in the afternoon. The BBC goes with the story of my identification on its 6pm newscasts.

I am off air indefinitely.

More here

(And don't forget your ration of Wicked Thoughts for today. Now hosted on Wordpress.  If you cannot access it, go to the MIRROR SITE, where  posts  appear as well as on  the primary site.  I have reposted  the archives (past posts) for Wicked Thoughts  HERE or HERE or here

No comments: