Monday, I managed to slip loose from the protective cordon that has been thrown around me – “for my own good” – and take the train down to London. It has been frustrating sitting here, behaving myself, whilst the Starr v Ward libel case played out in the Royal Courts of Justice.
It was the words, spoken and/or implied, by Karin Ward that became the foundation stone of the tottering edifice we know as ‘Operation Yewtree’. Contrary to popular belief, Karin never appeared in the infamous ‘Exposure’ programme that led to a mad clamour of allegations regarding Jimmy Savile. Yet without Karin Ward, that programme would never have been made. If you are not up to speed on that, start reading here, and come back in a month or so when you’ve caught up!
I had been getting regular reports as to the goings on in court – not from the media, who arrived to report on the initial lurid allegations, but haven’t been seen or heard of since. Pesky details like someone proving that ‘x’ allegation simply couldn’t be true, are just soooo boring to your modern media man.
I was intrigued to hear that part of the proceedings had included a line by line reading of my ‘Savilisation’ blogs – to the point that Mr Justice Nicol had said ‘we’ve heard quite enough about Jimmy Savile’ – quite, the current case is concerning what Karin Ward said about Freddie Starr…even so, I shall be framing the transcript when I get it. Not often a blogger gets to feature in a High Court libel case without being sued themselves!
I’m not going to discuss what was said in the court before Monday until I have the transcript – I wasn’t there and my notes have come second hand; in a libel trial where every word counts, it would not be right to do so. That may be doubly frustrating for you – because by order of Mr Justice Nicol, some of what occurred on Monday I cannot tell you.
Monday was of particular interest to me, because the one and only witness speaking in support of Karin Ward who was allegedly at the infamous Clunk-click filming when Freddie Starr was appearing was due to appear. I have long been aware of the names of the girls on that trip, and was as interested to see who was speaking up to support Karin’s allegations as I was to be able to discern who wasn’t prepared to speak up.
I can’t give you the name of the one girl who was prepared to speak to Karin’s version of events – not because she has anonymity by virtue of being a victim of sexual abuse, but because of lengthy legal wrangling, and the intervention of Mr Bunting, a barrister who was working pro bono, on her behalf. She wanted anonymity because:
1. These events took place 41 years ago, she was now employed, her life had changed, and her children and grandchildren didn’t know of her past as a ‘Duncroft girl’.
2. She feared she would be subject to harassment on social media.
3. Weighing Article 8 against Article 10 – the right to a private and family life versus freedom of expression.
5. The knowledge that the media will continue to report indefinitely should she be named in open court for having done her civic duty by giving evidence.
It was stated that this witness was not prepared to co-operate willingly, and had been subpoenaed to appear.
Powerful arguments as to why section 39.24 of the Court procedure rules should be invoked to protect her identity. The court thus ruled that she should only be identified as Miss ‘C’.
You must be agog to hear what exceptional revelations Miss ‘C’ had to make that the court, and Karin Ward’s solicitor-advocate (it is noticeable that neither party is using a barrister in this case) should go to so much trouble to protect her?
Hold onto your seats.
Miss ‘C’, Karin Ward’s sole contemporary witness and supporter, “Doesn’t recollect anything in particular”. In fact her memory is “Quite hazy”.
She explained that she was not present in the famous picture of the ‘Freddie Starr appearance (the ‘bean bag’ photograph) “because she was in the audience”. She didn’t explain why.
She confirmed that she was only present on ONE trip to Clunk-click. However, she ‘did not recollect’ the name of the show.
She “doesn’t recall” Gary Glitter being on that show.
She doesn’t recall “How many went to that show”.
She doesn’t recall “which girls” went to that show.
In fact she “wasn’t sure” whether Freddie was there. Leading Mr Dunham to comment that there seemed to be a lot that she didn’t recall. Her response was “Not a lot, No”.
However, there was one detail of which Miss ‘C’ was abundantly clear. Despite having given evidence that she ‘had never asked a celebrity for an autograph’, she told how she was ‘standing in a doorway with another girl’ – neither the girl nor the doorway, nor the occasion was identified – when Freddie Starr came to the door. She asked him ‘for something to remind her of the trip’.
He said -‘You can have a lock of my hair’. Put his hand down his trousers and produced a pubic hair. She said “I thought ugh!”. Then he disappeared. She stated that Jimmy Savile was in the room at the time.
I do have e-mails written by Miss ‘C’ stating that she did not witness any abuse of Karin Ward, but obviously cannot now release them since that might identify her. Since I am also aware that Mr Price has the same e-mails I am slightly bemused as to why he went to so much trouble to introduce her evidence. There were at least three other Duncroft girls who he could have called in evidence, and it is impossible to believe that he couldn’t trace them since they have all been prolific on social media and in forums, including the shy Miss ‘C’.
Another girl on that trip to Clunk-Click was, of course, Susan. All of the reasons advanced above in favour of anonymity even for people who were not sexually abused applies to her – but no such protection was afforded to her. I continue to hold her bravery and sense of civic duty in high regard.
Susan gave evidence for five solid hours. A large part of that time was expended on taking her through a line by line reading of my blog posts – posts that related to Savile – eventually Mr Justice Nicol said ‘we’ve had quite enough of Jimmy Savile’ and reminded Karin Ward’s solicitor-advocate that this trial concerned the comments his client had made about Freddie Starr.
Not before David Price, said solicitor-advocate, had entered onto the court records my married name, rather than my maiden name which I use for professional purposes as the author of the Anna Raccoon blogs. I understand that yesterday he also identified me as having been sitting in court on Monday – for what reason I do not know. Perhaps he was mindful of the noisy group of ‘CSA’ activists who were clustered outside court taking photographs of everyone leaving the court.
I further understand that yesterday he also labelled me a ‘Savile Denier’ – notwithstanding that I was not a witness in court and have no right of reply nor to qualify that comment by saying that I have only decried those claims which I personally knew to be untrue – the claims prior to 1974 which Operation Outreach has now confirmed could not have occurred.
There is a lot of further evidence to be digested, but that will do as a first dispatch from the murky trenches. For the benefit of doubt, Freddie Starr was not in court, nor were there any journalists in the press box. Apparently both parties had decided to spare themselves the agony of listening to Mr David Price speaking for eight solid hours trying to score points, an experience akin to watching your pet tortoise mate with a reluctant female.
I realise that the many Duncroft girls who read this blog will quickly figure out who the hapless witness ‘C’ is – any attempt to name her will result in your comment disappearing into cyberspace without ever appearing in public. I have set the spam filter with her name as a swear word.