Former chancellor issues statement to Exaro after report on disclosure at Old Bailey trial
A spokeswoman for the Conservative grandee contacted Exaro today following our report at the weekend about how the Old Bailey was told, during a preliminary hearing in advance of a trial, that South Yorkshire Police was investigating Clarke over an allegation that he sexually assaulted a 14-year-old boy.
The spokeswoman read the following statement on behalf of Clarke: “The senior command team of South Yorkshire Police has assured Mr Clarke that they are not now, and have never in the past, investigated him for any allegation of sexual abuse or any other crime.”
Asked why the court was told otherwise, the spokeswoman said: “As I was not in court, I cannot tell you what was said in court, but that is what South Yorkshire Police has assured Mr Clarke.”
Exaro reported on Saturday how the issue was raised during a preliminary hearing at the Old Bailey in the case against Ben Fellows, who was cleared last week of attempting to pervert the course of justice by falsely claiming that Clarke had indecently assaulted him.
The judge, Mr Justice Peregrine Simon, said: “The complaint was when a 14-year-old boy was subjected to a serious indecent assault by two men, one he later recognised as being Ken Clarke.” But he did not allow the other case to be raised in the Fellows trial.
The judge made an order to prevent reporting of the development because of the risk of prejudice to the Fellows case.
Clarke told the Old Bailey that the allegation by Fellows against him was “preposterous”, adding: “I have never had the compulsion to grope a man.”
At the end of the trial, Exaro asked the judge to lift the order. The prosecution objected, but Exaro argued that there was no legal basis for continuing the order.
The prosecutor, Duncan Atkinson, withdrew his objection after he told the judge that there were not even any active proceedings in relation to the other case, meaning that no one so far had been arrested or charged.
Exaro asked South Yorkshire Police to comment on the statement by Clarke, but declined to confirm or deny what he said.
In a statement to Exaro, South Yorkshire Police would only say: “Our position is, we do not confirm or deny any individuals who may or may not be being investigated.”
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