Belfast Telegraph

DLT sex claims 'completely untrue'

Claims that veteran DJ Dave Lee Travis was seen as a sexual predator while working at a commercial radio station are "completely untrue" , a former personal assistant told his trial .

Gemma Nurden described Travis, known as DLT, as a "lovely person".

"When Dave met people, he'd give them a big sort of bear hug," she told jurors. "He just sort of would always put his arms around people but not in a seedy way or anything - just in a friendly way."

Travis, now 68, is on trial accused of indecently assaulting 10 women and sexually assaulting another in incidents dating back to 1976 and the height of his fame. He denies all the charges.

Giving evidence, Ms Nurden, who said she worked for Travis from September 1992 to 2002, was asked about the period when he worked at Chiltern Radio, where he is alleged to have inappropriately touched three female colleagues.

Asked by Stephen Vullo, for the defence, if the defendant was known by his colleagues as a "determined sexual predator" as the trial has previously heard, Ms Nurden said: "That's completely untrue. I never saw anything to make me think that at all."

Asked to describe what Travis was like in her view, the witness told jurors at London's Southwark Crown Court: "He's great fun.

"He was a very sort of larger-than-life character. He would chat to anybody. He wasn't sort of like a big superstar that wouldn't talk to a doorman or anything like that, and just a lovely person."

Asked if she saw or heard anything to suggest Travis ever acted inappropriately with female staff at the radio station, Ms Nurden, who said she accompanied him to his show every day, told jurors: "No."

The witness said she began working for the former BBC Radio 1 presenter for a few days a week after his wife Marianne had an operation, carrying out household tasks for the couple and feeding their chickens and pigs.

She became his PA a year later when he left the BBC and began working in commercial radio.

Ms Nurden told jurors she was not aware of any of the women at Chiltern Radio ever accusing him of assaulting them and there was never an "atmosphere" at the station because of him.

When asked whether she noticed the smell of the defendant's "pungent aftershave" as he walked in the room - as other witnesses have said - Travis gave a loud sigh in the dock as Ms Nurden said: "Yes."

Travis - on trial under his birth name David Griffin - denies 13 indecent assaults between 1976 and 2003 and one sexual assault in 2008.

The charges relate to allegations from when he was working as a BBC DJ, as a broadcaster with Classic Gold radio, while appearing on Top Of The Pops and when starring in panto.

Asked if the reason that Travis left the radio station in 2002 was because of the allegations of indecently touching one of his colleagues, Ms Nurden said "That's ridiculous".

She said it was Travis who chose to quit due to proposals to reduce his show from five days a week to just one.

Caroline Bonfield, who worked at Chiltern Radio as PA to the group managing director at the time, told jurors she thought the allegations against Travis were "totally ludicrous".

"It makes absolutely no sense to me at all," she told jurors.

Ms Bonfield said she was never aware any of her female colleagues felt Travis acted inappropriately towards them and no allegations were made at the time.

She added: "I feel I would have known about it if there was."

Asked by Mr Vullo if she could have missed anything, the witness said: "I don't think that's a possibility, no. Anything like that would have gone around the station like wildfire. In any office it would, but particularly in the media. There was never any talk about it at all and we did talk about sleazy men."

Asked if Travis was ever thought of as a "sex pest" by his colleagues, the witness replied: "No, never ever, ever."

Mr Vullo asked whether, if there were concerns about the defendant's conduct at the time, the radio station might have covered it up due to him being their "big man".

Ms Bonfield said: "There was quite a robust HR department, there was no way it would have been allowed."

She described Travis as "fabulous" and said he was very popular among his colleagues.

"He was a breath of fresh air at the studio," she said. "He was funny, he was kind. Generous of nature. We loved having him about."

Ms Bonfield said Travis was "very tactile".

"He enjoyed the big bear hugs and cuddles," she said, adding that he would hug people in a "vice-like grip".

"There was no stroking or patting," she said. "It was just like 'grrrrr' and you got a big old cuddle and he let you go."

Ms Bonfield also said Travis would sometimes give her "shoulders a good old squeeze".

"I never had a problem with that," she said, but she admitted it might not have been "everyone's cup of tea".

Ms Bonfield was asked about an occasion when Travis was called into managing director Colin Wilshere's office, when prosecutors claim he was confronted about indecently assaulting one of the women, which Travis disputes.

She told jurors she was aware of a "kerfuffle" and was later told by Mr Wilshere: "There's been a bit of an upset with one of the girls."

Ms Bonfield described the woman in question as "quite strident, quite loud".

"Self-obsessed and a bit on the neurotic side," she added.

The court also heard from other women who worked at the radio station's office in Dunstable, Bedfordshire, where Travis was based.

Vicki Turner told jurors she had "not ever" witnessed him acting inappropriately and would have reported him if she had as she has done with other colleagues she has encountered in her radio career.

She described Travis as "fun, very professional, very helpful, very kind".

She added: "He was happy to be there. He wanted to be liked. I think most radio presenters have an ego which needs to be stroked."


From Belfast Telegraph