Savile producer at BBC arrested over 'child sex assault'

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The Independent Online

A former BBC producer who told a television documentary that he had challenged Jimmy Savile over his behaviour around children has been arrested on suspicion of sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl.

Wilfred De'Ath, who produced a radio programme for Savile, was held at his home in Cambridge. Later released on bail, he said police had questioned him over claims he groped a teenager in a London cinema.

Mr De'Ath denied the allegations and said that he was the victim of a witch hunt following the cascade of allegations the followed the ITV documentary and the realisation that Savile was one of Britain's most prolific sexual abusers.

The pensioner – the third person to be arrested by the Scotland Yard team looking into historic abuse claims against Savile and others – claims he is the subject of mistaken identity after appearing on the widely acclaimed Exposure investigation into Savile's history of sexual abuse.

Mr De'Ath, who worked with Savile at the BBC in 1964 on a radio show called Teen Scene, had claimed on the programme that he had found the DJ with a young girl after being invited by him to a restaurant popular with celebrities.

The former producer said that he thought the girls could have been as young as nine. "I refused to eat with him and instead I just had a Coke, because I felt very uneasy about what was happening," he said.

"The next morning I called him at the hotel where he was staying and I could hear the girl in bed with him. She was saying, 'hello Mr Producer man'. It wasn't right."

The ITV programme led to hundreds of people coming forward to make further allegations against Savile and others. Mr De'Ath said that they included one woman, now in her 60s, who claimed that he had groped her at a cinema after they met at a party in north London in the 1960s.

"It's quite ironic I should be arrested like this after talking about Jimmy Savile's preoccupation with young girls," said Mr De'Ath who worked for the BBC between 1961 and 1965. "This is a witch hunt and I've got to think about what I'm going to do."

Scotland Yard said that a 73-year-old man had been arrested in Cambridgeshire and was questioned before being released to return on a date in December. The force declined to confirm the man's identity.

He was the third person to be arrested during the inquiry – codenamed Operation Yewtree – after the former rock star Gary Glitter and the comedian Freddie Starr.

Mr Starr, 69, said Savile, who died last year at the age of 84, was "despicable" and "disgusting" and denied allegations of sexual abuse.

Mellor's mishap: anger at 'weirdo' claim

Former Conservative minister David Mellor has been criticised for describing the child abuse victim at the heart of the current crisis engulfing the BBC as a "weirdo". Steve Messham had incorrectly identified one of his abusers at a north Wales care home as former Tory treasurer Lord McAlpine. On the Sunday Politics show Mr Mellor said: "I don't see how Newsnight as a brand can survive this…they rely on a man who the Mail on Sunday over two pages reveals ... is a weirdo." The NSPCC described the remarks as "unhelpful".