Operation Yewtree

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Operation Yewtree (also known as the Yewtree Inquisition and the Savile Inquisition) is a police investigation into historical sexual abuse allegations in the UK[1], some dating back more than 50 or 60 years. It began with the investigation into the British media personality Jimmy Savile (who died in 2011). The investigation led by the Metropolitan Police Service started in October 2012 but quickly expanded. After satisfying its original objectives instead of disbanding, it became a full criminal investigation involving inquiries into many living people (mostly involved in the entertainment industry). Described as a modern day witch hunt, it has so far led to 16 arrests [2] and one death. [3]

During the course of the Yewtree Inquisition, a new term emerged in the British press called, historic or historical sex abuse investigation and allegations.

Barbara Hewson

In May, 2013, a leading barrister Barbara Hewson [4] came under fire in the British press for an article she wrote that appeared on the Spiked news website where she described Yewtree as a "witch-hunt" against aging celebrities that echoed the Soviet Union. She stated, "I do not support the persecution of old men. The manipulation of the rule of law by the Savile Inquisition – otherwise known as Operation Yewtree – and its attendant zealots poses a far graver threat to society than anything Jimmy Savile ever did." The article which was entitled, "Yewtree is destroying the rule of law", [5] lead to a storm of controversy and moral panic where Hewson was descibed in the British press as " ‘vermin’, a ‘fucking animal’ who deserves to ‘rot in hell’, a ‘cretin’, a ‘scumbag’, a ‘paedophile sympathiser’, a ‘whore’, a ‘cunt’, a ‘paedo-loving slag’, and, of course, a ‘witch’." [6] Hewson summed up her article with the following statment:

"It’s time to end this prurient charade, which has nothing to do with justice or the public interest. Adults and law-enforcement agencies must stop fetishising victimhood. Instead, we should focus on arming today’s youngsters with the savoir-faire and social skills to avoid drifting into compromising situations, and prosecute modern crime. As for law reform, now regrettably necessary, my recommendations are: remove complainant anonymity; introduce a strict statute of limitations for criminal prosecutions and civil actions; and reduce the age of consent to 13." [5]

Other criticism

Some have labelled Operation Yewtree a "witch-hunt",[7][8][9] including director Terry Gilliam,[7] TV presenter Chris Tarrant,[7] and newspaper tycoon Eddy Shah.[9]

In an article for The Spectator, Rod Liddle criticised the handling of these cases by police, especially in the case of Freddie Starr, who was arrested four times and bailed nine times before being told he would not be charged, claiming: "the way the police have conducted the process is hugely unfair".[10] In the aftermath of Cliff Richard's August 2014 property search, human rights barrister Geoffrey Robertson wrote in The Independent that the long delays before announcing charges amounted to "outrageous treatment", adding: "This has been one of the most intolerable features of other high-profile arrests for 'historic' offences, namely the inability of police and prosecutors to deliver Magna Carta’s truly historic promise that justice will not be delayed."[11] After others, including Jim Davidson and Paul Gambaccini, were left on bail for many months before being told they would not face charges, Home Secretary Theresa May proposed that bail time be limited to 28 days.[12][13]

People arrested

[1] Former pop star and convicted sex offender Gary Glitter was arrested as part of the investigations into Savile on 28 October 2012;[14][15][16] he was questioned at a London police station for more than nine hours and bailed until December.[16]

Comedian Freddie Starr was arrested on 1 November on suspicion of related offences and released on bail the following day.[17][18] He was re-arrested on 24 April 2013.[19]

On 11 November, former BBC producer Wilfred De'ath, who had been interviewed for the Exposure documentary, was arrested in Cambridge on suspicion of connected sexual offences; he was later released on bail,[20] denying the claims made against him.[21] No charges were brought against De'ath after the complainant withdrew her statement, confirmed Alison Saunders the chief crown prosecutor for CPS London in March 2013.[22] De'ath was later told that he would not face any charges, and said that the police action had been "overzealous".[23]

A fourth man, DJ Dave Lee Travis, was arrested in Bedfordshire on 15 November;[24] and was later released on bail. The police said allegations against him were unrelated to Savile, and Travis said his arrest had been on matters not linked to children.[25] Travis was re-arrested on 13 March 2013 on suspicion of further sexual offences.[26] Travis was charged on 15 August 2013 on suspicion of twelve historical sex offences.[27] Following a trial at Southwark Crown Court, on 13 February 2014 Travis was found not guilty on twelve counts of sexual assault, with the jury unable to reach a decision on a further two counts.[28]

On 6 December, it was reported that publicist Max Clifford had been arrested as part of Operation Yewtree, on suspicion of sexual offences;[29] after his release on bail, he denied what he termed the "damaging and totally untrue allegations".[30] On 26 April 2013, Clifford was charged with 11 indecent assaults against girls and young women between 1965 and 1985.[31]On 28 April 2014, Clifford was found guilty of eight charges of indecent assault, acquitted of two charges of indecent assault and the jury was hung on one charge of indecent assault.[32] On 2 May 2014, Clifford was sentenced to eight years imprisonment at Southwark Crown Court. [33] [34]

A man in his sixties unnamed at the time, later reported to be former BBC chauffeur David Smith, was arrested in London on 10 December.[35] Smith was the first suspect to be charged in the investigation, on 3 April.[36] Smith was found dead (suicide) on 28 October 2013, after failing to appear for a court appearance.[3]

An eighth man, former BBC radio producer Ted Beston, was arrested on 19 December.[37] On 14 May 2013, it was reported that Beston would not face prosecution due to insufficient evidence.[38]

Comedian Jim Davidson and DJ Mike Osman were arrested on 2 January 2013.[39] Another man, aged 65, was arrested in south London on 5 February.[40] It was later announced that Davidson and Osman would face no further action.[41]

In late November 2012 an unnamed man in his 80s was questioned by the Metropolitan Police and his Berkshire house was searched.[42] He was arrested in Berkshire on 28 March 2013.[43] On 19 April this was stated by the BBC and other media sources to be Rolf Harris.[44] On 29 August Harris was charged with 13 separate offences relating to the abuse of minors.[45] On 23 December 2013, Harris was charged with 3 further separate sexual assault charges which are against females aged 19 in 1984, aged seven or eight in 1968 or 1969, and aged 14 in 1975.[46]

Another unnamed man, aged 65, was arrested in Somerset on 4 April.[47] On 16 October it was confirmed he would not be prosecuted.[48] Comedian Jimmy Tarbuck was arrested by North Yorkshire Police after an Operation Yewtree file was passed to them concerning a claim he sexually abused a young boy in the 1970s.[49]

Two unnamed men aged 64 and 74 were arrested on 29 October at separate addresses in South London,[50] on 1 November 2013, it was reported that BBC broadcaster Paul Gambaccini was the 64 year old man arrested on suspicion of historical sexual offences as part of Operation Yewtree. His spokesman said that he denied the allegations.[51]

On 17 December 2013, Dr Michael Salmon, aged 78, who worked at the Stoke Mandeville Hospital where Savile allegedly abused some of his victims, was accused of assaulting four girls under the age of 16 between 1972 and 1985, including one count of rape.[52]

On 8 April 2014, an unnamed 73 year old man was arrested in North London on suspicion of sexual offences.[53]


Date of arrest Suspect Background History [1] Status
28 October 2012[14][15][16] Gary Glitter Former glam rock pop star and convicted sex offender After being questioned at a London police station for more than nine hours, Glitter was released on bail until December 2013,[16] upon which he was rebailed until February 2014.[54] Following a further rebail, he is currently on bail until June 2014.[55] On bail until June 2014.[55]
1 November 2012[17][18] Freddie Starr Comedian Arrested a total of four times by February 2014.[56] On 6 May 2014, the Crown Prosecution Service announced that Starr would not be prosecuted.[57] No prosecution.[57]
11 November 2012 Wilfred De'ath Author, journalist and former BBC producer Arrested in Cambridge on suspicion of connected sexual offences; he was later released on bail,[20] denying the claims made against him.[58] No charges were brought against De'ath after the complainant withdrew her statement, confirmed Alison Saunders the chief crown prosecutor for CPS London in March 2013.[59] De'ath was later told that he would not face any charges, and said that the police action had been "overzealous".[60] No prosecution.[59]
15 November 2012[24] Dave Lee Travis Disc jockey, radio and television presenter Arrested in Bedfordshire on 15 November, Travis[24] was later released on bail. The police said allegations against him were unrelated to Savile, and Travis said his arrest had been on matters not linked to children.[61] Travis was re-arrested on 13 March 2013 on suspicion of further sexual offences.[62] Travis was charged on 15 August 2013 on suspicion of twelve historical sex offences.[63] Following a trial at Southwark Crown Court, on 13 February 2014 Travis was found not guilty on twelve counts of sexual assault, with the jury unable to reach a decision on a further two counts.[28] Not guilty.[28]
6 December 2012[64] Max Clifford Controversial publicist after his release on bail, he denied what he termed the "damaging and totally untrue allegations".[65] On 26 April 2013, Clifford was charged with eleven indecent assaults against girls and young women between 1965 and 1985.[66] On 28 April 2014, Clifford was found guilty of eight charges of indecent assault, acquitted of two charges of indecent assault and the jury was hung on one charge of indecent assault.[67] On 2 May 2014, Clifford was sentenced to eight years imprisonment at Southwark Crown Court.[68] Incarcerated on 2 May 2014 for eight years in HM Prison Wandsworth.[69]
10 December 2012 David Smith BBC chauffeur Smith was the first suspect to be charged in the investigation on 3 April, and was arrested on 10 December.[70] On 28 October 2013, Smith was found dead after failing to appear for a court appearance.[71] The coroner found that he had taken his own life.[72] Deceased.[71]
19 December 2012 Ted Beston BBC radio producer Arrested on 19 December.[73] On 14 May 2013, it was reported that Beston would not face prosecution due to insufficient evidence.[74] No prosecution.[74]
2 January 2013 Jim Davidson Comedian Arrested on 2 January 2013.[75] It was later announced that he would face no further action.[76] No prosecution.[76]
5 February 2013 Unnamed 65-year-old man Unknown Arrested in South London on 5 February.[77] No prosecution.[76]
28 March 2013 Rolf Harris Australian-born musician, singer-songwriter, painter, and television personality In late November 2012 an unnamed man in his 80s was questioned by the Metropolitan Police and his Berkshire house was searched.[78] He was arrested in Berkshire on 28 March 2013.[79] On 19 April this was stated by the BBC and other media sources to be Rolf Harris.[80] On 29 August Harris was charged with 13 separate offences relating to the abuse of minors.[81] On 23 December 2013, Harris was charged with 3 further separate sexual assault charges which are against females aged 19 in 1984, aged seven or eight in 1968 or 1969, and aged 14 in 1975.[82] Harris's trial began on 6 May 2014,[83] involving him being accused of grooming a friend of his daughter's from the age of 13 with evidence being an 'apology letter' allegedly written by Harris to the victim's family. Sasha Wass QC, prosecuting, said "Mr Harris was too famous, too powerful and his reputation made him untouchable".[84] Found guilty on 30 June 2014. Sentenced to five years and nine months in prison.[85] Incarcerated at HM Prison Wandsworth.
4 April 2013[86] Unnamed 65-year-old man Unknown Arrested in Somerset on 4 April.[86] On 16 October it was confirmed he would not be prosecuted.[87] No prosecution.[87]
26 April 2013[88] Jimmy Tarbuck Comedian Arrested by North Yorkshire Police after an Operation Yewtree file was passed to them concerning a claim he sexually abused a young boy in the 1970s.[88] On 24 March 2014, it was announced that he had been released without charge.[89] No prosecution.[89]
June 2013[90] Chris Denning Former Radio 1 disc-jockey and convicted sex offender Arrested in June 2013 and bailed until September. On 22 May 2014, he was charged with 41 sex offences.[91] Awaiting trial.
29 October 2013[92][93] Paul Gambaccini American-British radio and television presenter and author Two unnamed men aged 64 and 74 were arrested on 29 October at separate addresses in South London,[94] on 1 November 2013, and it was reported that BBC broadcaster Paul Gambaccini was the 64 year old man arrested on suspicion of historical sexual offences as part of Operation Yewtree. Gambaccini was given bail, and his spokesman said that he denied the allegations.[95] On bail.[96]
29 October 2013[97][98] Unnamed 74-year-old man Unknown Arrested in South London, and given bail, alongside Gambaccini. On bail.[99]
17 December 2013 [100] Michael Salmon Medical doctor at the Stoke Mandeville Hospital, where Savile allegedly abused some of his victims Accused of assaulting four girls under the age of 16 between 1972 and 1985, including one count of rape.[100] On bail.[100]
8 April 2014[53] Unnamed 73-year-old man Unknown Arrested in North London on suspicion of sexual offences.[53] On bail.[53]

Operation Hydrant

Operation Hydrant is a British police investigation into allegations of child sexual abuse. It co-ordinates a number of other investigations by police forces throughout the United Kingdom.[101][102][103] It is headed by Simon Bailey, the Chief Constable of Norfolk.[104]

According to the National Police Chiefs' Council, as of May 2015, Operation Hydrant had information on "1433 suspects of which 216 are deceased, 666 suspects related to institutions, 261 classified as people of public prominence, [of which] 506 are classified as unidentified, [and] 357 institutions have been identified within the scope of the operation".[104] "The traditional role of the police – to solve crimes brought to the police’s attention – has been transformed. This new inquisitorial form of policing is oriented towards the discovery of crimes not yet reported. So by regularly calling for people to come forth as victims of abuse, the police are indulging in a form of crime construction."[105]

References

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External links