A radio announcer has told the court in the trial of DJ Dave Lee Travis that she was in a “panic” after he allegedly grabbed her breasts when she was speaking live on air.
Former Radio 1 DJ Dave Lee Travis left a BBC trainee terrified for her job after fondling her breasts as she introduced Women’s Hour live on air in the early 1980s, a court heard today.
The woman, 26 at the time, said the broadcaster "thought it was a joke” and that there was “no way” she could complain to managers because the broadcaster was a “big star”. She was the first witness to give evidence in the trial of the 68-year-old, who denies 13 counts of indecent assault and one of sexual assault.
Mr Travis, charged under his real name of David Griffin, allegedly assaulted 11 victims on BBC premises and elsewhere between 1978 and 2008.
The former BBC trainee, speaking behind a white screen at Southwark Crown Court in London so only the judge, jury and barristers could see her, said Mr Travis “put one hand on each breast” when she read a link following Radio 4 news. He then held his hands there throughout the announcement, which lasted 10 seconds, the court heard.
She said: “His hands came around my armpits and he put one hand on each breast. He started to move my breasts up and down.” He then “sat down as if nothing happened,” and thought it was a “joke” or “prank” adding that she was afraid she was going to “mess up the announcement”.
When asked if she made a complaint, she said: “I was on probation. There was no way I was going to start telling off this big star of Radio 1. If I had gone to the management I imagine it would have been ‘so what? You’re a big girl, deal with it.’
“I think I would have had a black mark against my name on my file – ‘this woman can’t take a joke she has no sense of humour’.”
Prosecutor Miranda Moore QC asked the woman how she would have reacted if the same incident happened off air. The witness replied: “I wouldn’t have been very ladylike. I’m sure I would have screamed at him to get off me.”
The court heard that Mr Travis denies the allegation and has no recollection of it. The woman contacted the press after the DJ Liz Kershaw gave an interview saying she had been groped by a man live on air, saying she thought she was referring to Mr Travis.
The witness worked at the BBC between 1981 and 1983 and is now an after-dinner speaker. She denied being motivated by money telling the court that she was not paid for her newspaper interview and has not sought compensation.
Another former journalist who worked with Mr Travis at Dunstable-based Chiltern FM in the early 2000s, when she was in her late 20s, told the court the first time she met the broadcaster he gave her a bear-hug and rubbed his hand down her body and touched her breast.
She said: “It felt like how a father should initially hug a daughter, not a man you had just met.”
The journalist told the court of three incidents “seared into my memory” that allegedly occurred between 2001 and 2004. Referring to one allegation, she said: “He walked over to me. I knew what was coming. I didn’t have a chance to move. He was inches away from my face. He put both hands on the tops of my thighs and he began to rub my thighs. He pushed my skirt up, his left hand went up under my skirt and I could feel his hand under my knicker elastic.”
The woman said she “snapped” and shouted at Mr Travis to stop. She told the court: “I pushed him away and started screaming in his face: ‘You’re a pervert, how are you getting away with this? Why are you doing this?'"
She said the pair had to be dragged apart by colleagues before she pleaded with bosses to “please help us”, referring to female colleagues who she said desperately tried to avoid the DJ whenever he was in the same room. The news editor of the station, now called Heart FM, ordered Mr Travis to stay away from the newsroom and he soon left the station, the court heard.
Video: DJ Dave Lee Travis arriving at court yesterday
Mr Travis shook his head in the dock when the woman told the court she did not make a formal complaint to HR at the time and the pair worked together in the newsroom for 18 months.
She said the incident had left her “terrified” and “sick”. Ms Moore asked why the woman had not complained. The woman, who no longer works at the station, replied: “I’ve asked myself that same question a hundred times. I don’t know. Fear. I had the job of my dreams. I was a news journalist. I had a job that was my whole life. I’d worked very hard to get to where I was. I was terrified that no one would believe me… and of losing my job.”
Chiltern programme controller Donald Douglas told the court he was aware a complaint had been made by the former journalist regarding “inappropriate” behaviour by Mr Travis but that he was unaware of any “campaign of sexual harassment”.
Another Chiltern journalist who also gave evidence today said Mr Travis made her feel “incredibly uncomfortable” and “couldn’t keep his hands off me”. She was one of three women who eventually made a formal complaint.
Stephen Vullo, defending, suggested to the woman that Mr Travis was a “tactile person” and his behaviour was not inappropriate. She disagreed.
The trial continues.