Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Paul Gambaccini: Fly Paper

Paul Gambaccini, the broadcaster, has backed a 28-day limit for police bail after telling how the police and prosecutors “sat on me” for 12 months before he learnt he would not be charged over an allegation of sex abuse.

Mr Gambaccini told MPs that he had forfeited more than £200,000 in lost earnings and legal costs over a year on bail in which he was unable to work because of publicity surrounding the allegation.

The former Radio 1 DJ, who has since returned to work on Radio 2 and Radio 4, said he was used as “fly paper”, as his arrest was publicised by police in the hope that other people would come forward to make allegations against him.

He said he suspected his bail was extended until the end of high-profile cases involving other celebrities, because detectives on Operation Yewtree — the investigation into historical sex offences — did not want juries to hear that a former DJ had been cleared.

Mr Gambaccini was giving evidence to the Commons home affairs committe after Theresa May, the home secretary, announced in December that she was consulting on a 28-day bail limit in all but exceptional cases.

She said that it “cannot be right that people can spend months or even years on pre-charge bail with no oversight”.

Mr Gambaccini said: “I faced the full weight of the state with unlimited financial resources for 12 months for no reason — it was a completely fictitious case, a science fiction case which would have required time travel, and I don’t have a time machine.”

The broadcaster was arrested on October 29, 2013 and police handed papers to the Crown Prosecution Service on February 10, last year, but it was October 10 before he was told no case would be brought against him, he said.

By Christmas 2013, the press regarded it as a “nothing case” and a character witness later told him police had stood him down because there was no prospect of a trial, Mr Gambaccini said.

He said that his bail was extended on seven occasions with only “vague” explanations from the police, but he gradually realised that the dates often coincided with important developments in the Yewtree investigation...

What a world, what a world!

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