Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Two members of Sixties pop group The Tremeloes strongly criticised British police yesterday after they were cleared of a sex attack almost 50 years ago

Leonard ‘Chip’ Hawkes and Richard Westwood had been due to stand trial next year accused of indecently assaulting a 15-year-old fan at the height of their fame.

But the case collapsed after it emerged that the complainant had mental health issues and her account was riddled with inconsistencies.

Police knew the alleged victim had been sectioned, raising questions as to why detectives and prosecutors dragged the stars to court.

The woman’s allegations that she was assaulted after a concert in Chester in April 1968 emerged only in May 2013 when she approached police.

Mr Hawkes and Mr Westwood were questioned later that year and charged last year but a judge at Reading Crown Court ordered yesterday that they should be acquitted after the discovery of a diary in which the alleged victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, detailed her abuse.

The diary gave a contradictory account of events and there were concerns over when it had been written.

There has been no apology to the two men from either the Crown Prosecution Service or Cheshire Police, who investigated the case.

It is the latest in a series of high-profile inquiries into historical sex abuse claims to be dropped after the evidence was found to be spurious.

Sir Cliff Richard, Jim Davidson, Jimmy Tarbuck and Paul Gambaccini all faced false accusations.

Outside court singer and bass player Mr Hawkes, 70, father of Nineties pop star Chesney Hawkes, accused detectives of failing to investigate the accusations properly amid the clamour to prosecute historical sex offenders in the wake of the Jimmy Savile scandal.

He said: ‘The past two years have been the worst time of our lives. 'Our families have had to endure the stress and media publicity and it’s taken its toll on all of us.’

Mr Hawkes, who was having treatment for bone marrow cancer when he was arrested, said the case had had a severe impact on his health. His wife Carol, a former actress and game show host, said: ‘We wondered if this was going to finish him off... we knew it was all totally untrue.’

Guitarist and lead vocalist Mr Westwood, 73, said his career had been tarnished on the basis of the ‘spurious allegations’.

‘I cannot begin to express the relief we feel now this nightmare has concluded,’ he said. ‘It is too late for me and my family to get back the years of our lives that have been destroyed.

‘It is a disgrace that a single claim dating back more than 48 years was never properly investigated before my good character was attacked. 'It was abundantly clear that these charges should never have been brought.’

Yesterday the Crown Prosecution Service and Cheshire Police released a joint statement saying: ‘A file of evidence was presented to the CPS and charges of sexual assault were authorised in December 2015.

Since then, fresh evidence has come to light which undermines the prosecution case and it has therefore been discontinued.’

Original report here

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