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Driver charged with sex abuse in wake of Jimmy Savile scandal

Former BBC employee is the first person to be prosecuted as part of Operation Yewtree

A former BBC driver has become the first person to be charged as part of the police investigation prompted by the exposure of Jimmy Savile as a serial sex abuser.

David Smith, 66, will stand trial on five allegations of abuse against a boy aged under 14 that date back to the 1980s, the Crown Prosecution Service announced yesterday.

Mr Smith, from Lewisham in southeast London, was the seventh person to be arrested as part of Operation Yewtree, the Scotland Yard child abuse inquiry that exposed Savile as one of Britain’s most prolific paedophiles.

Mr Smith was used by the corporation to ferry guests to programmes, the BBC reported yesterday, but a spokeswoman said it could not establish if he was an employee at the time of the alleged offences. It is understood that he was never a driver for Savile.

Operation Yewtree had three strands: allegations against Savile alone; another into those linked to him; and a third strand of “others” that had no connection with Savile. Mr Smith was arrested under the “others” strand of the inquiry.

Mr Smith, who was named for the first time yesterday, was arrested on 10 December and later bailed. A file was passed to the CPS 11 days after his arrest and he was charged after further police inquiries requested by prosecutors.

Alison Saunders, Chief Crown Prosecutor for London, said: “We have concluded… that there is sufficient  evidence for a realistic prospect of  conviction, and that it is in the public interest for David Smith to be charged with five offences.”

Mr Smith was charged with two counts of indecent assault, two counts of gross indecency and one serious sexual assault, all allegedly committed within two months in 1984, police said. He is due to appear at Westminster magistrates’ court on 8 May.

Eleven people have been arrested so far during the inquiry into historic abuse, including some of the best-known names in entertainment.

The comedians Freddie Starr and Jim Davidson, former Radio One DJ Dave Lee Travis and the PR consultant Max Clifford are among those who have been arrested. They all deny any wrongdoing. The former glam rock star Gary Glitter was also arrested but has not since commented. They all remain on bail while the inquiry continues.

A former BBC radio producer, Wilfred De’ath, was told last week that he would not face any further action because of a lack of evidence against him, in the first decision made by the CPS.

Peter Watt, head of the NSPCC helpline, said: “While criminal investigations continue, and the justice system takes its course, it’s important that victims and witnesses continue to take the brave step of coming forward even where arrests or charges have already been made.”

Operation Yewtree was launched by Scotland Yard after an ITV documentary last October that interviewed victims of Savile’s abuse. The programme led to 600 people coming forward to give information about historic abuse – three-quarters relating to Savile.

Scotland Yard said in January that Savile’s crimes had spanned 54 years and the scale of abuse was “believed to be unprecedented in the UK”.