Saturday 1 October 2016

Comedian Freddie Starr brings damages claim against woman who claimed he groped her at Jimmy Savile show

Jan Colley

Published 15/06/2015 | 17:56

Freddie Starr leaves the High Court in London at the start of a slander and libel claim against a woman who says he groped her when she was in the audience at a Jimmy Savile show when she was a 15-year-old Credit: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire
Freddie Starr leaves the High Court in London at the start of a slander and libel claim against a woman who says he groped her when she was in the audience at a Jimmy Savile show when she was a 15-year-old Credit: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

Comedian Freddie Starr has brought a damages claim against a woman who says he groped her when she was in the audience at a Jimmy Savile show when she was a 15-year-old.

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The 72-year-old entertainer was at London's High Court in a wheelchair to face his accuser, Karin Ward, at the start of a two-week slander and libel trial before Mr Justice Nicol.

He told the judge, who is hearing the case without a jury, that he did not at first remember appearing on Clunk Click in March 1974 - 41years ago - until footage showed him in the studio, with Ms Ward in the audience behind him.

Questioned by Ms Ward's advocate, David Price QC, Starr rejected the allegation that he had groped the teenager in Savile's dressing-room and called her a "t**less wonder".

He said: "It just never happened. It was not in my moral compass. My moral compass will not allow me to do that."

Starr, who was married to the second of his four wives at the time, said he had never groped anyone in his life and it was untrue that he had "wandering hands".

The father-of-five also denied Ms Ward's claim that he smelt of alcohol which frightened her - as he did not drink, and never had done.

Starr, of Studley, Warwickshire, who is suing over interviews given to the BBC and ITV in October 2012 and statements on a website and in an eBook about Ms Ward's life, claims he has lost £300,000 because of shows cancelled as a result of the allegations.

Ms Ward, 56, denies the claims and relies on the defences of justification and public interest.

Mr Price asked Starr about the evidence of another 15-year-old girl who, like Ms Ward, was a pupil of Duncroft Approved School at the time, who said Starr gave her a piece of his pubic hair as a "souvenir" of the evening.

Starr said: "I've never heard so much garbage in my life."

Mr Price said Starr's response in his witness statement was that it could not have happened because the very tight trousers he wore in the '70s would have prevented him putting his hand down his groin.

Starr replied: "That would be sick."

Mr Price said: "It would be sick if you did it, and would show a sexual interest in young girls of that age."

Starr said he was shocked when he heard about the girl's allegation: "I certainly wouldn't do that. It's sick and disgusting."

He also dismissed as "fiction and lies" a claim by another 15-year-old girl who attended the show that Starr had engaged in a "passionate French kiss" with her.

"My wife was with me at that show. I had three lovely children. I don't see how I could have acted so inappropriately."

Questioned about sexual attitudes in the 70s, Starr said that he used to have a voracious sexual appetite and have sex eight times a night.

But he said he never cheated on his second wife, Sandy, in 22 years.

He said that he liked older women in their early 20s - not 16-year-olds who were too young and inexperienced.

He was not a bottom pincher but would lightly slap a young woman's bottom.

"It wasn't anything sexual. It didn't mean anything. It just meant she had a lovely bum.

"I'm sorry about the 70s. That's the way it was. If someone reacted adversely, I would apologise immediately."

He added that he was an "arse and legs" man, not a bust man.

"It's as simple as that. I don't care how small or big they are. It makes no difference. They all work the same."

Starr said that Ms Ward and the other two women who made allegations about him that night had stayed in touch over 40 years: "They all went to the same school, wore the same school tie and they are all telling lies, and that's the truth of the matter. This whole thing is ridiculous."

In his witness statement, Starr said that he was made to feel "like a criminal" the moment Ms Ward published her version of events.

"I was sexually abused as a youngster and I know what that feels like. It is something I could never do to anyone."

He said that the police undertook a full investigation into the allegation made by Ms Ward and a further 13 additional complainants who put forward allegations, and the Crown Prosecution Service decided that no charges would be brought.

As well as the financial loss, he had suffered loss to his reputation and damage to his health and family life, the court heard.

"I had been recovering very well from heart surgery up until the allegations were made. The stress and embarrassment of the false accusations have contributed significantly to a decline in my health. I have had suicidal thoughts."

Starr finished his evidence and the hearing was adjourned until tomorrow.

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