Former national radio broadcaster Dave Lee Travis has told a London court it is “absolutely 100 per cent wrong” that he thought it acceptable to grab women’s bottoms during the 1970s, but said if it was a crime then “half the country would be in jail”.
In an often animated cross-examination at Southwark crown court in London on Wednesday, the former BBC Radio 1 disc jockey, whose real name is David Patrick Griffin, said it was a “different world in the 70s” but that he never indecently assaulted women.
“Put any person on the stand and ask them about those days and they will say it was flirtatious, you could touch someone on their shoulder and they wouldn’t get arrested for it,” he told jurors. “You could put your arm around someone’s waist and it wasn’t misread as an attack.”
The former Top of the Pops host maintained that he was “totally innocent” of the sexual assault charges against him, telling the court he would have admitted touching a woman’s bottom in the 1970s.
“These are things that have happened in the 1970s and 1980s and on that basis I said then, and I’m still saying it, it was just flirtatious behaviour at the time, not that it was just flirtatious at the time and I partook of it, because I still don’t like the idea of doing that.”
He told jurors: “If in 1973 or 1981 or 1982 I had grabbed somebody’s bottom and I was asked about that by the police I would say: ‘Yes, I did that,’ because it’s not … you’re not attacking someone. I’m not saying it’s right, wrong or indifferent.
“If patting somebody’s bottom was a crime in the 1970s half the country would be in jail now I suppose.”
On the witness stand for the third day in his trial, the veteran broadcaster grew increasingly agitated as he was questioned by the Crown counsel Miranda Moore QC.
At times raising his voice in frustration, Travis told jurors he was “mad as hell” at the allegations of indecent assault made against him.
At one point, Travis expressed mock outrage when it was suggested he was “not really a sex symbol”.
“Oh! I take that as a personal insult. I would have thought I was fair to middling,” Travis told the jury, adding that he was a “big, hairy, cuddly bear”.
Later Travis was stopped by the judge, Anthony Leonard, after explaining why he was “incredulous” about the allegations made by 10 women and one 15-year-old girl. “I apologise. It’s been over a year it’s been boiling up for me and I guess it’s the time I can speak, but I do apologise,” he told the judge.
Questioned about his interviews with police officers after his arrest, Travis said: “I’ve been aggravated by this, I’ve been annoyed by it, I have been as mad as hell about it and therefore any of these chats with the police would have been [me] just being me and opening up and saying things how I felt.”
Travis told jurors that a former carnival queen who accused him of thrusting his hand up her skirt at a hospital radio station opening in the 70s was a fantasist who was talking “complete nonsense”.
Then jurors heard Moore, for the Crown, suggest Travis was a liar. “You can suggest away. I’m afraid that’s not right,” he answered.
When the accusation was put to him a short time later, Travis put his head in his hands and said: “Oh my God. I’m sorry I don’t understand … I understand your job is to belittle me and tell the jury what a terrible person I am but I would not stand for that.”
Travis denies 13 counts of indecent assault and one of sexual assault relating to 10 women and a 15-year-old girl between 1976 and 2008.
The trial continues.