The former newspaper tycoon Eddy Shah was found not guilty torday of raping an underage schoolgirl at a string of London hotels.
The 69-year-old denied repeatedly raping the girl in the early 1990s when she was aged between 12 and 15.
After nearly 18 hours of deliberations, a jury at the Old Bailey cleared him of six counts of raping a girl under 16. Susan Davies, 53, a former escort from Swanley, Kent, was cleared of forcing the complainant, who is now in her early 30s, to have three-way sex with her and Shah.
A third defendant, businessman Anthony Pallant, 53, of West Malling, Kent, was also cleared of raping the girl during the same period with the assistance of Davies. He was cleared of rape and indecent assault.
Speaking outside the court, Mr Shah, of Chippenham, Wiltshire, said the case was brought because of “cheap policing and cheap prosecution”. He called for a review of how such cases were dealt with by police, telling reporters: “Anybody walking down the street can point at a celebrity and say, ‘he raped me’. I was brought to trial with no real evidence at all – all they had was the word of a girl and nothing was actually backed up.”
Mr Shah maintained that he met the girl twice in hotels while she was accompanied by Davies but never had sex with her.
Mr Shah, whose birth name is Selim Shah, founded the now-defunct Today newspaper in 1986. After clashes with print unions, he was the first person to invoke Margaret Thatcher’s anti-union laws.