Dave Lee Travis found not guilty: Verdict on veteran DJ leaves Operation Yewtree bereft of credibility

Vindication for ex-Radio 1 star as fellow accused Max Clifford and Rolf Harris wait in the wings

The decision to prosecute historic sex abuse cases involving celebrity defendants has been called into question after veteran DJ Dave Lee Travis was acquitted of 12 sexual assault charges in the first high-profile trial brought by Operation Yewtree.

The near-full courtroom vindication for the 68-year-old former Radio 1 DJ came in the first criminal trial brought after a £3m police investigation into historic sex abuse cases that stemmed from the exposure of Jimmy Savile as one of the country’s most prolific paedophiles.

Mr Travis’s legal team claimed that the DJ was targeted as a scapegoat after police and prosecutors missed numerous opportunities to bring Savile to justice during his decades of crime. The former Radio 1 DJ said he had lost his home and his reputation, in a case that his legal team claimed had been a witch-hunt based on a lie.

Flanked by Marianne, his wife of more than 40 years, Mr Travis told reporters outside court that he had been through “a year and a half of hell on this which included costing me so much money to pay out for my part of this trial”. “Lots of people are worse off than me; however I did lose my reputation as well which I may try to get back later,” he added.

Prosecutors will now have to decide if they will press for a retrial for two charges on which the jury could not decide verdicts: an alleged indecent assault on a stagehand in his dressing room while he appeared in the pantomime Aladdin in the early 1990s, and an alleged sexual assault on a journalist who interviewed him at his home in Mentmore, Buckinghamshire, in 2008. From the outset, Mr Travis has denied the allegations against him and claimed that he was “tactile” by nature. “If I like someone I will hug them and give them a kiss because the whole world needs that,” he told the court. “But nowadays you can’t do that apparently,” adding that half of the country would be in jail by now “if patting somebody’s bottom in the 1970s was a crime”.

The case – which follows the acquittal of Coronation Street actor Bill Roache last week – will inevitably lead to questions as to the ability of the criminal justice system to secure convictions in cases involving high-profile figures with allegations that in some cases go back decades.

Mr Travis’s barrister, Stephen Vullo, told jurors the defendant’s name had been sullied because police and the authorities had missed catching Savile. “There is no justice whatsoever in overreaction, bringing a 68-year-old man of impeccable character to this court and muddying his name to make us feel better about Jimmy Savile,” he told the court.

Sixteen men have been arrested under Operation Yewtree, which was set up after an ITV documentary that exposed Savile led to hundreds of people coming forward with further allegations of abuse.

Files have been handed to prosecutors in 11 of the cases, which have resulted in seven being discontinued. Trials are scheduled to start in the next two months of the publicist Max Clifford and the entertainer Rolf Harris, with other people remaining on bail while investigations continue.

The first man who was due to stand trial after a Yewtree investigation was found dead on the day the case was due to go to court last year. David Smith, 66, a former driver reputedly for the BBC, was a prolific paedophile with 22 previous convictions, who was due to answer allegations that he had raped a 12-year-old boy in the 1980s.

Prosecutors declined to comment on the Travis case before a hearing later this month which will decide whether he will face a retrial. David Cameron’s official spokesman said the Prime Minister continued to have confidence in the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) in light of the not guilty verdicts for both Mr Travis and Mr Roache.

Operation Yewtree split its investigations into three strands into those involving Savile, those with Savile and others and those into allegations independent of Savile. Although Mr Travis knew Savile, he was investigated under the “others” strand that has led to the arrests of most of the high-profile suspects in the inquiry. Speaking outside court, Detective Chief Superintendent Keith Niven, who is leading Operation Yewtree, encouraged all victims to come forward and pledged “our commitment to support anyone who has been subjected to sexual abuse”.

Sixteen women gave evidence against Mr Travis during the trial. The charges, which related to 11 of the women, went back nearly 40 years with the latest in 2008.

“The Metropolitan Police take all allegations of sexual abuse very seriously,” said Det Chief Supt Niven.

“We fully investigate every case and once sufficient evidence is obtained investigators work with CPS lawyers and a decision whether to charge is made. In the case of Mr Griffin, the prosecution was brought, he was tried and the jury reached their decision.”

Human rights barrister, Barbara Hewson, questioned whether defendants such as Travis could have a fair trial given the time that has passed since the allegations.

“The original Yewtree operation was set up as a response to a moral panic created by the scandal of Jimmy Savile, the one person who cannot answer to anything,” she said.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Life and Style
A still from the 1939 film version of Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone with the Wind'
life
Sport
David Silva strokes home his and City's second goal
football
Arts and Entertainment
a clockwork orange, stanley kubrick
film
Extras
The Tesco Hudl2: An exceptional Android tablet that's powerful, well-built and outstanding value
indybest

News
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Sport
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricket
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
Life and Style
food + drinkAuthor DBC Pierre presents his guide to the morning after
Life and Style
food + drink
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas