Barrister rejects 'lost childhood' claims of Damilola trial witness

Radio 4 is again at the centre of controversy after giving a platform to the young witness whose flawed evidence was responsible for the collapse of the Damilola Taylor trial.

The station, already under pressure over its journalistic standards after the David Kelly affair, said it had not paid the girl, who was seen on a police videotape at the trial singing, "I'm In The Money" as she contemplated spending a £50,000 reward for identifying the killers of the 10-year-old from Peckham, south London.

Radio 4 said the programme would show how the girl "has lost both her childhood and her future" from her involvement in the case.

But the barrister who cross-examined her in the trial, Courtenay Griffiths, who is chairman of the Bar Council's public affairs committee, said: "The idea that this poor child has been damaged beyond recognition as a consequence of that experience is, I suggest, complete nonsense."

The trial jury heard the girl, known as Bromley, boast that police paid for her to have a free holiday in Spain. She also made frequent references to a national newspaper's offer of a reward, saying: "Just give me the £50,000. Gimme, gimme, gimme, gimme, gimme."

The court heard that Bromley and her mother had run up a bill of £4,000 in eight days at a hotel in Croydon, south London, mostly on telephone calls and drinks.

The Damilola Taylor trial, one of the most expensive and high-profile cases in recent times, collapsed when the judge, Mr Justice Hooper, concluded that no jury could trust what Bromley said.

Radio 4 said its programme, to be broadcast on Thursday, would show that Bromley had also been a victim of the disastrous £10m prosecution. "The events of the last three years have taken their toll on the teenager and her mother," the station said. "In this programme she reveals how her life has been blighted by the trial and her ensuing experiences and how she has lost both her childhood and her future."

During the trial last year, Mr Griffiths tore Bromley's evidence to shreds. The 12-year-old witness swore at him and at one stage stormed out of the courtroom.

Radio 4 said Bromley chose to do the interview "because she wants to end the speculation about her motives and attempt to put the harrowing events of the past few years behind her".

Mr Griffiths revealed yesterday that Bromley had recently verbally abused him after sitting beside the lawyer on a London bus. "She chose deliberately to come and confront me. There were plenty of other seats she could have sat on," said Mr Griffiths. "She turned to me and said, 'Who the f*** are you looking at?' "

When the barrister asked if she knew who he was, he received more verbal abuse.

"She said, 'Of course I know who you f****** are,' and continued to abuse me for five minutes, until she eventually got off with the parting shot, 'F*** off!' "

In the programme, Bromley says she was never interested in reward money and had turned down lucrative newspaper deals. Mr Griffiths said: "It's quite clear from her behaviour during the videotaped interviews that money was very high on her agenda."