Senior members of the Conservative Party are lining up to attack the police and the Crown Prosecution Service over the failed trial of former Deputy Speaker, Nigel Evans. Mr Evans was the latest in a line of celebrities to have been acquitted of sex abuse allegations brought in the wake of the Jimmy Saville case.
Sir Jimmy Saville has been described by the NSPCC as “Britain’s most prolific sex offender” with hundreds of potential victims, but police did not act to stop him despite repeated complaints about his conduct. Since then the police have investigated a string of unrelated allegations about celebrities, most of which have proved to be weak in court.
In the latest example former Deputy Speaker Nigel Evans was accused of sex attacks against nine people. However in Preston Crown Court it emerged that only two had gone to the police, the others had only come forward once police began cold calling people associated with the MP. One alleged victim told the court that he did not consider himself to have been a victim of crime at all.
After the trial, David Davis MP, the former Shadow Home Secretary, told the Guardian: “This case has highlighted serious concerns over how the police and the Crown Prosecution Service bring sexual offence cases to court”.
“In particular we must now review the process whereby the police and the Crown Prosecution Service put together a large number of lesser, subsidiary cases in order to reinforce one serious case when prosecuting sexual offences. It is clear from the way that this case proceeded that there is a risk of a serious injustice being done to an innocent man, and I would call on the attorney general to urgently review this issue.”
Mr Evans’s solicitor, Daniel Berk, also questioned the amount of resources dedicated to the case.
Mr Berk told the BBC Radio 4 PM programme: “They put far more resources into this than they would if the complainant was a member of the public and the defendant was not somebody in the public eye”.
“In this case there was a large police team. It came out in evidence that the police had gone out of their way to find complaints – two of which dated back 10 years and both of whom said in evidence that they were somewhat surprised to find themselves in court.
“They also instructed senior Treasury counsel – a QC – which, again, would not be typical in a case like this.”
Bob Stewart MP suggested that Nigel Evans had paid out £100,000 in legal fees, despite the fact “his house is probably not worth that much” and that “he is not a rich man”.
The Evans case is the latest in a string of failed celebrity sex cases, including two Coronation Street stars, William Roache and Michael Le Vell. Both of whom were also investigated by Lancashire Police, and tried unsuccessfully at Preston Crown Court.
In November 2012, Dave Lee-Travis was arrested on suspicion of historic sexual offences. Mr Lee-Travis was found not guilty on twelve charges earlier this year, the jury was unable to reach a verdict in a further two.
Another less high profile case was that of BBC Radio Presenter Wilfred De’ath who was arrested but never charged. Mr De’ath referred to the Police as “over-zealous” in arresting him.
The same happened to Comic Jimmy Tarbuck, who was arrested for molesting a boy in the 1970’s. The married father of one was ultimately released without charge.
However both the Police and the Crown Prosecution Service defended their actions, stating that 86 percent of sex cases brought to trial are successful.