Paul Gambaccini considering suing Met Police over sex abuse 'witch hunt'


Broadcaster Paul Gambaccini has revealed he is considering suing the Metropolitan Police after he endured a year of suspicion before being told he would not be prosecuted for historic sexual abuse.

The presenter and DJ told how he was dropped by the BBC and had his life turned upside down when he was arrested in October 2013 over a claim he sexually assaulted two teenage boys.

The American-born presenter spent a year on bail before finally being told he would not face charges because of insufficient evidence.

Speaking at the Gibraltar Literary Festival, he told how he had been the victim of a celebrity "witch hunt" launched by police in the wake of the Jimmy Savile scandal.

And he told how the outgoing Met Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, who he called "the villain of my life", has never apologised to him.

He said: "The Metropolitan Police of Bernard Hogan-Howe attempted to destroy my life and end my career for their own public relations purposes in a 100% fraud.

"And when they failed, as they have done, they did not admit it, they did not apologise, they did not offer restitution.

"There can be no organisation more vile than the Metropolitan Police.

"Bernard Hogan-Howe is the villain of my life, but more than that, he is the coward of my life."

Mr Gambaccini said the police chief, who has announced he is retiring, has repeatedly failed to answer questions directly about his case when questioned by the Home Affairs Select Committee and by journalists.

And he revealed that while the police chief has "embarked on an apology tour" of other public figures who have been exonerated of historic sexual offences, he has not been invited to a meeting.

He said: "I've not been invited, and there had been no apology."

Mr Gambaccini also revealed that he is considering suing the Met Police after recently discovering that his case file has errors in it and that allegations relating to a second complainant, who he calls secondary, do not feature.

He said this second complainant "appears to have been brought in to justify my arrest" before being dropped by police.

He said: "On Tuesday I did instruct my lawyers to make preliminary investigations to seek information concerning my case with particular reference to secondary with the idea this may lead to action."

He said no final decision has yet been taken, but said he changed his mind and decided to consider suing because "I cannot live with the stifling dishonesty of the Metropolitan Police".

He added: "I may sue the Metropolitan Police."

Mr Gambaccini described how a knock on the door early in the morning one day in October 2013 changed his life forever.

He opened it to find eight Met Police officers who searched his home, confiscated his belongings which were carried out to the waiting cars in black bin liners, and arrested him.

But Mr Gambaccini said that while he is entirely innocent and he has never been charged, he had anticipated suspicion might fall on him as he was the latest in a long list of celebrities who had been arrested under Operation Yewtree, set up in the wake of the revelations about paedophile Savile.

He said: "After the exposure of the activities of Jimmy Savile, the public went into a moral panic.

"They did not feel comfortable knowing that something so dreadful had happened and no one had stopped it."

He accused the institution of the Met Police of trying to "divert" attention from their own failure to confront and prosecute Savile by carrying out a "round up of his contemporaries".

And he said that when police went on the news and said accusers would be believed his "heart sank" and he feared he could be next because he had been one of the first celebrities to speak publicly about Savile - having waited "30 years" for his crimes to come out.

He said he warned his husband and lawyer that he could be in the line of fire "because this is happening to people".

But police did not recognise the special place celebrities can have in the minds of the public, he warned.

"Whereas the man in the street is known to the people he or she has met in their lives, celebrities are are known to these people plus millions of others", he said. "To some of them they have fulfilled emotional needs. Everyone of us has a stalker or a fantasist, you don't have to be beautiful. Some people fall in love with a voice."

This leaves celebrities particularly vulnerable to false accusations, Mr Gambaccini said.

When news of his arrest was made public, he said the BBC could not dump him fast enough. He went from being the subject of special programmes praising his 40 year career to being suspended.

He said: "This is one of the most incredible features of the entire experience, from the moment I was arrested until this moment, no BBC manager from outside of radio has gotten in contact."

He said his immediate managers were "instructed to dump me" and that the director general Lord Hall, who he has known for many years, has never been in contact even after he was exonerated.

"Unfortunately in all of the witch hunt cases the BBC has acquiesced in totalitarianism", he said.

Mr Gambaccini said the BBC was not the only institution to dump him after his arrest. He has cut Amnesty International out of his will because of how they treated him at the time.

Over the course of a year he was repeatedly re-bailed without being charged in what he believes was a tactic designed to turn him into a "flypaper" in the hope other complainants would come forward and stick. None did.

The experience seriously damaged his faith in British justice and his adopted home land of the UK.

He said: "Britain originated the expression of fair play, and the expression that's not cricket.

"The centuries old, internationally respected, evidence-based system has mutated in the last five years into a rumour and accusation based system."

Alongside Sir Cliff Richard, who was cleared of sexual abuse allegations after his home was searched by police in front of the BBC's rolling cameras, he is calling for those accused of such offences to be given anonymity until charged. He believes this will help stop other people having to go through the ordeal he did.