Belfast Telegraph

Police defend Starr bail length

A senior police officer has defended the amount of time that comedian Freddie Starr has been left on bail over sex crime allegations.

The performer, who was first held in November 2012, is taking High Court action after he was re-bailed again despite assurances that a charge or release decision would be made.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Martin Hewitt said that additional alleged victims coming forward had lengthened the investigation.

He said: "Clearly we do not keep anyone on bail any longer than necessary for us to effectively investigate. We have a duty to thoroughly investigate any allegation of a sexual offence that is reported to us, and that is what we will do.

"They are always complex cases to investigate, and when they are historic allegations that are being made they are particularly complex investigations.

"One of the particular challenges that we face when the suspect in the allegations is a well-known person is that what happens, and that has happened in this case, is that during the life of that initial investigation you then get further allegations made by other individuals. All of those allegations deserve a thorough investigation."

Starr, 71, was first arrested in the autumn of 2012 over claims made to detectives from Operation Yewtree, the inquiry launched after abuse allegations against Jimmy Savile.

Since then he has been rearrested three times over further claims.

His lawyer Dean Dunham said yesterday: "In January 2014 we wrote to the police and Crown Prosecution Service to express concern for the amount of time that the investigation was taking and to put them on notice that we believed that the decision to keep Mr Starr on bail was unlawful.

''Both the police and CPS responded by saying that a decision whether to charge or release would be forthcoming by 12 February 2014, at the latest. We are therefore disappointed that this has not transpired and as such Mr Starr will now be filing an application in the High Court for Judicial Review in relation to the conduct of the police and CPS.''

Mr Dunham said that the additional allegation behind yesterday's re-arrest was not a new claim, and police had previously decided not to question Starr about it.


From Belfast Telegraph