Eddy Shah cleared of under-age rape
Former newspaper tycoon Eddy Shah has been found not guilty of raping an under-age schoolgirl at upmarket London hotels.
The 69-year-old, of Chippenham, Wiltshire, denied raping the girl on several occasions during the early 1990s when she was between 12 and 15.
After 17 hours and 46 minutes of deliberations, a jury at the Old Bailey cleared him of six counts of raping a girl under 16.
Wearing dark trousers and a blue shirt with the collar open, Shah said "Thank you" to the jury and appeared to fight back tears as the verdicts were read out. His wife, Jennifer White Shah, was present in court and wept after hearing that her husband had been cleared.
Former escort Susan Davies, 53, of Swanley, Kent, was cleared of forcing the complainant, now in her early 30s, to have threesomes with her and Shah. Mr Shah maintained that he met the girl twice in hotels while she was accompanied by Davies but never had sex with her.
Ms Davies was found not guilty of aiding and abetting rape, indecent assault and cruelty to a person under 16. A third defendant, businessman Anthony Pallant, 53, of West Malling, Kent, was also cleared of raping the girl during the same period with the assistance of Ms Davies. He was found not guilty of rape and indecent assault.
During the trial, Ms Davies described how she had a relationship with Mr Shah for several years, but claimed that it never felt like she was working as a prostitute. The court heard that Mr Shah would pay her around £100-£200 for sex and brought her gifts such as a Pierre Cardin watch.
Ms Davies referred to him as a "gentleman" and said that she had taken the girl twice to meet him because she thought he could have a positive influence on her life by talking to her. "With hindsight it was a stupid decision,'' she told the court.
Ms Davies also had a relationship with Mr Pallant, a three-times married medical equipment entrepreneur with whom she had a son.
Mr Shah, whose birth name is Selim Shah, founded the now-defunct Today newspaper in 1986. After clashes with unions he was the first person to invoke Margaret Thatcher's anti-union laws. He went on to write several novels.