On 6th May 2014 Freddie Starr learned that he would not be prosecuted for offences investigated by the Operation Yewtree team,
Why is someone not being prosecuted news?
Well, he is a celebrity, someone in the public eye, and he has been on bail for about 18 months and so there was clearly an amount of public interest in it.
Why was the decision made?
The CPS have issued a short press release, including the following :
“Having carefully reviewed this case, we have decided that there is insufficient evidence to prosecute Freddie Starr in relation to allegations of sexual offences made by 13 individuals. Each allegation was considered on its own merits and we have concluded that the available evidence does not offer a realistic prospect of conviction for any of the alleged offences.
“In relation to one further complainant, we have decided that although there is sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction, according to the Code for Crown Prosecutors, a prosecution would not be in the public interest“
This could seem odd on the face of it – the twelve cases where there is not sufficient evidence is straightforward – if there’s not enough evidence then a prosecution should clearly not be started. But what about the case where there was evidence to prosecute?
The ‘public interest’ test is a complicated one and many different factors are at play. In this case it is probably that the offending was low-level and would not lead to any punishment, even if Mr Starr was to be convicted.
This does not mean that Mr Starr was guilty of the final offence. As the CPS acknowledged, “It must be remembered that a determination by a prosecutor that there is sufficient evidence to prosecute under the Code does not mean that the suspect is guilty of the offence“. This is important to stress – the presumption of innocence means just that and is a backbone of our legal system. Just because an allegation is made, does not mean it is true and in this case Mr Starr is entitled to proceed on the basis that he is innocent of this allegation.
Why was he on bail for so long?
Mr Starr was first arrested and bailed in November 2012. We looked at whether the police abused bail last year, and this would seem to be a inordinately long time. We would suggest that this is a good example of where it was too long. One suggestion that we made was that when a bail period went past, say, 3 or 6 months, it would have to go in front of a Judge for this to be justified.
Whatever the answer, it does seem that this is an area that should be looked at.