Freddie Starr not to be prosecuted

Freddie Starr not to be prosecuted

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Photo from the Telegraph
                    Photo from the Telegraph

Introduction

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

We have a piece on the Code for Crown Prosecutors.

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.

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Dan is a barrister at 2 Dr. Johnson’s Buildings practising in crime.

14 COMMENTS

  1. Dan i enjoy your blog’s, you are a very talented man,i’m at six’s and seven’s over this 1,
    i have been reliabley informed that the number of people coming forward claiming historic
    abuse has spiked since the jimmy savile cover up, this is the new compensation culture.
    i’m not standing in any 1’s corner,as being accused of such a crime when innocent
    is a horendous expereince!
    I look forward to future post’s from your good self.
    regard’s
    ANTHONY DOBSON.

  2. I’m not sure how you can say that people reporting criminal offences is a ‘compensation culture’. They do not receive compensation. Can you explain what you mean?

  3. Actually, they absolutely can claim compensation through the CICA. It may be difficult to claim via that system in the case of historic sex cars but the scheme is there.
    Moreover, a court can award compensation to victims of crime when a defendant is convicted or pleads guilty.
    So, whilst I think it highly unlikely that compensation is the driving force behind such allegations, to say that it is not something that can happen is incorrect.

  4. Presumably there is nothing at this stage preventing Freddie Starr’s legal team from releasing the details/evidence, which was considered by the CPS, in order to reach their decision, into the public domain as long as they respect the anonymity of the complainants why don’t they/he do this?

    • I agree with Ben – why would they do that?

      It would also be a difficult and lengthy exercise to do this whilst ensuring the anonymity is respected. Who would pay for this? And what is to be gained by it?

      An interesting question is whether the CPS could do this (though I doubt they could justify the expense).

      There is of course nothing to stop any of the complainants in bringing a private prosecution.

      • Because the accused, including Freddie Starr, frequently claim these allegations to be false or malicious. Well if the allegations are wholly without foundation let’s release the evidence.. Even in the case of an acquittal why not release it. Stating allegations are borne out of malice also then raises the question of why? And allows comments such as “crying rape”, “gold digger” and or “compensation culture”. Maybe this would allow a light to be shone under these matters.

        • I’m all in favour of being more open and think that there is a lot to be said for releasing more evidence to the public. Although, as I say, who pays for it? It’s an expensive exercise.

          The problem with doing it in sex cases is that so much of the evidence would have to be redacted to ensure anonymity that it would be impossible for anyone to assess the CPS assessment of it I would imagine.

      • In addition to Dan’s issue regarding cost, what you are suggesting is that the named defendant should subject himself to trial by media/bloggers/groups with vested interests one way or another whilst all the time maintaining the anonymity of the complainants.

        If the public doesn’t trust the CPS to apply the test for bringing proceedings in an impartial, fair and appropriate manner, the fix cannot be for the accused to prostrate himself before the Great British Public. The fix is to consider any requests by complainants to have the decision reviewed (a power brought about last year, I think?)

        Moreover, if the public was “with” the complainant, when it read all of the interview summaries and when the Defendant’s own account is set out for the public in great detail, what then? Most will already think Freddie Starr to be a sex-pest monster (just like Nigel Evans, Craig Charles etc etc) despite what a jury might or might not have concluded. That doesn’t help the complainants more than the IBelieveHer tweets that seem to ignore juries and the CPS alike.

        If the public broadly feels that the CPS got it right and that Freddie Starr might even (horror of horrors) be innocent of any criminal activity, what then? He has no redress against those who smeared him. He has no way of naming those who would make such allegations – in case they make allegations against others (like the argument in favour of naming suspects and defendants in such cases). He is not “cleared” because there was never a trial. All that has happened is that his private life has been probed in an invasive and offensive manner and all for nothing.

        In short, the system is not perfect and maybe a different approach ought to be taken to the test (though I do not advocate it), but calling for a trial by media after a decision on charge is to call for a return to mob justice. That helps neither accused nor victim.

        • Isn’t the point that the solicitors have called the correctness of the police/CPS into question
          already. They say they gave over conclusive evidence of innocence 18 months ago.

          Depends what it is doesn’t it?

          If it’s, for example, that he was on stage in front of thousands of people at the times alleged then surely it would be in the public interest for that to be widely known. It would show up a huge failing in the investigative process that all defence lawyers are very aware of.

          If on the other hand it’s all about social service records and pouring doubt on the complainant’s credibility generally then he’d be mad to even consider putting it into the public domain.

      • Dan, thank you for your feedback which gave me a perspective I hadn’t considered. Though I am interested in discussing further for reasons which you are probably aware of I’m stepping away from this one now.

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