£300k libel trial begins for woman sued by Freddie Starr over grope claims made to BBC and ITN

Comedian Freddie Starr is suing a woman who says he groped her when she was in the audience at a Jimmy Savile show when she was a 15-year-old.

The 72-year-old entertainer appeared in a wheelchair at the High Court in London to face his accuser, Karin Ward, at the start of a two-week defamation trial before Mr Justice Nicol.

He told the judge, who is hearing the case without a jury, that he did not at first remember appearing on Jimmy Savile's Clunk Click TV series in March 1974 – 41 years ago – until footage showed him in the studio, with Ward in the audience behind him (pictured above).

Questioned by Ward's advocate, David Price QC, Starr rejected the allegation that he had groped the teenager in Savile's dressing-room and called her a "titless wonder".

Starr told the court: "It just never happened. It was not in my moral compass. My moral compass will not allow me to do that."

Starr, who was married to the second of his four wives at the time, said he had never groped anyone in his life and it was untrue that he had "wandering hands".

The father-of-five also denied Ward's claim that he smelt of alcohol, which frightened her – he did not drink, and never had done, he said.

Starr, of Studley, Warwickshire, who is suing over interviews given to the BBC and ITV in October 2012 and statements on a website and in an
eBook about Ward's life, claims he has lost £300,000 because of shows cancelled as a result of the allegations.

Ward, 56, denies the claims and relies on the defences of justification and public interest.

She was interviewed by Newsnight in 2011 for a documentary which would have exposed Savile as a child abuser but which was never aired.

Her comments about Starr were broadcast by Panorama and she also gave an interview about Starr to ITN for ITV.

It was reported in February that both the BBC and ITN/ITV have refused to pay the costs of Ward's defence.

Price asked Starr about the evidence of another 15-year-old girl who, like Ward, was a pupil of Duncroft Approved School at the time, who said Starr gave her a piece of his pubic hair as a "souvenir" of the evening.

Starr said: "I've never heard so much garbage in my life."

Price said Starr's response in his witness statement was that it could not have happened because the very tight trousers he wore in the 1970s would have prevented him putting his hand down his groin.

Starr replied: "That would be sick."

Price said: "It would be sick if you did it, and would show a sexual interest in young girls of that age."

Starr said he was shocked when he heard about the girl's allegation: "I certainly wouldn't do that. It's sick and disgusting."

He also dismissed as "fiction and lies" a claim by another 15-year-old girl who attended the show that Starr had engaged in a "passionate French kiss" with her.

"My wife was with me at that show. I had three lovely children. I don't see how I could have acted so inappropriately."
 

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