Sex charge trials of veteran BBC DJ Dave Lee Travis and actor Bill Roache begin

Ageing British radio and TV personalities in the dock in wake of BBC Jimmy Savile scandal

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 15 January, 2014, 1:57am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 15 January, 2014, 10:01am

In three British courtrooms from London in the southeast to Preston in the northwest, three ageing television and radio personalities face charges over alleged sexual-abuse dating back almost five decades, with two of them starting trials yesterday.

Dave Lee Travis, a 68-year-old former DJ often called the "Hairy Cornflake," is accused by London prosecutors of 14 counts of assault on 10 women and a 15-year-old girl between 1976 and 1992. In Preston, 81-year-old soap-opera actor Bill Roache will contest unrelated accusations that he raped a 15-year-old in 1967 and two assault charges dating back to 1965 involving girls who were 16 or younger.

British police have arrested more than 15 people since 2012 as part of investigations that began with accusations against the late BBC television star Jimmy Savile, whose alleged actions triggered a scandal at the world's largest public broadcaster. Savile, who died in 2011 before the claims became public, committed more than 200 criminal sexual-abuse offences at the BBC, in schools and in more than a dozen hospitals, mental homes and a hospice, London police said last year.

Savile, who hosted the BBC's Top of the Pops wasn't prosecuted while he was alive, even after four women made reports about abuse they suffered as children to two police departments in 2007 and 2008.

Travis, whose real name is David Patrick Griffin, worked for BBC Radio 1 between 1967 and 1993 and its World Service until 2001. When Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi visited Britain to address Parliament in 2012 she met Travis, whose show she said she'd enjoyed while under house arrest.

Miranda Moore, a lawyer for the prosecution in London, said that Travis took advantage of his role as a celebrity. Jurors were shown a clip from a Top of the Pops episode hosted by Travis that Miranda said captured the moment around one attack.

Roache is the world's longest serving soap actor, having starred as Ken Barlow in Coronation Street since it started in 1960.

Both Travis and Roache have pleaded not guilty to all the charges.

London police started the investigation, known as Operation Yewtree, in 2012 following the Savile scandal. The Roache case wasn't part of Yewtree, but a similar probe conducted by police in Lancashire county.

At the same time as the two trials started yesterday, in a courtroom down the hall from Travis, Rolf Harris, an 83-year-old entertainer best known for novelty songs and hosting BBC children's programmes, pleaded not guilty to a dozen counts of indecent assault.