Child actor ‘invented claims he had been groped by Tory MP Ken Clarke during undercover investigation’
- Ben Fellows alleged he was groped by former Chancellor of the Exchequer
- Claimed it was while he worked undercover for ITV’s Cook Report in 1994
- Gave statement to police probing historical child abuse at Westminster
- But now he is accused of fabricating claims and is on trial at the Old Bailey
Ben Fellows, who appeared at the Old Bailey today accused of perverting the course of justice after allegedly inventing claims he was groped by Conservative MP Ken Clarke
A former child actor invented claims he had been groped by Conservative MP Ken Clarke during a cash-for-questions TV sting 20 years ago, a court has heard.
Ben Fellows, aged 40, from Solihull, West Midlands, alleged that the former Chancellor of the Exchequer had plied him with alcohol and carried out the sexual assault in the office of a lobbyist while he was working undercover for ITV’s Cook Report in 1994.
In the autumn of 2012, Fellows, who also appeared on The Bill, told national newspaper reporters about the alleged assault and stories were published in print and both online.
But today, Fellows appeared at the Old Bailey, accused of perverting the course of justice after making allegedly making false claims in relation to Mr Clarke.
The court heard how Fellows made a statement to police after being interviewed by officers as part of Operation Fairbank – the high profile investigation into historical child sex abuse at Westminster.
But when officers checked out his version of events, they concluded they were false and began treating him as a suspect rather than a victim, the court was told.
Opening Fellows’ trial, prosecutor Duncan Atkinson said: ‘In that witness statement, the defendant said that in 1994, when he was 19 years old, he had been employed as an undercover actor by an investigative journalism programme on ITV, the Cook Report, during a sting operation against Ian Greer, the political lobbyist.
‘The focus of that sting operation was a suggested role by Greer in arranging for politicians to ask questions in Parliament in return for money – or cash-for-questions as it was known at the time.
‘The defendant said in a witness statement that whilst engaged in that capacity he had been sexually assaulted in Greer’s London office by Kenneth Clarke MP.
‘He named a number of persons as having been involved in the Cook Report investigation who he said were aware of the assault, which he said had been recorded by a covert video device with which he had been issued.’
Mr Atkinson told how police interviewed members of the Cook Report team who said they were all unaware of the allegation.
At the time, Mr Clarke was Chancellor of the Exchequer, so it would have been front page news, they said.
Fellows, left, alleged that the former Chancellor of the Exchequer, right, had plied him with alcohol and carried out the sexual assault in the office of a lobbyist
They had not seen a video showing abuse and none of them recalled Mr Clarke even being in the lobbyist’s office.
After Fellows was arrested, he insisted the allegations were true saying the Cook Report staff were too afraid of losing their jobs or ‘falling foul of the establishment’ to corroborate them, Mr Atkinson said.
He also claimed he was subject to intimidation and threats as a result of having spoken out.
In October 2012, Fellows was interviewed by journalist Jack Malvern from the Times newspaper.
The court also heard that when Fellows was interviewed by police, he repeatedly mentioned Hollywood actor Tom Cruise
Fellows told him the story about Mr Clarke and made a series of other allegations which the reporter found ‘troubling’ when he tried to check them out.
The reporter then discovered at the time the trained actor said he had been seduced by a BBC executive he was 19 and not 14 as he had said.
He also found inaccuracies in his claims about his time at the Sylvia Young Theatre School and as a result of his checks, no story was published in the Times.
Jurors were also told that Fellows was described as an ‘inventive and sometimes persuasive fantasist’, who said he had been invited to a cocaine-fuelled party on BBC premises hosted by two of Britain’s biggest stars of the day.
However, the Express ran two stories in October 2012 headlined ‘Sex abuse rife at the BBC says Ben Fellows’ and ‘My hell with Britain’s biggest stars says Ben Fellows’, without naming names.
Meanwhile, Fellows published an internet article himself with an account of his interview with Mr Malvern alleging that the Times was seeking to protect those he had named.
Mr Clarke was interviewed but detectives took no further action and shifted their investigation to Fellows.
The court was also told that Fellows handed a list of names to police, which included a Hollywood actor, a Dynasty star and Max Clifford.
He went through the list during a meeting with head of the paedophile unit, Detective Chief Inspector Paul Settle in November 2012.
Summarising the list, Mr Atkinson said: ”The top name is an actor… he says he was a big BBC star, a Dynasty star. He goes on to deal with Max Clifford.
‘He talks about a party in connection with The Word TV programme and another Hollywood actor and something which he witnessed in relation to that actor.
‘There is a reference to cocaine in relation to two TV personalities.’
Fellows also repeatedly mentioned Hollywood star Tom Cruise during the meeting.
He referred to a premiere of the film Days of Thunder and added: ‘You laugh when you say Tom Cruise because he’s a movie star.’
Jurors at the Old Bailey, pictured, were also told he that Fellows was described as an ‘inventive and sometimes persuasive fantasist’
Detective Chief Inspector Paul Settle, head of the Metropolitan Police paedophile unit, told Fellows: ‘There’s very little we can do with that unless we had a detailed statement.’
The discussion then moved on to Cruise suing a magazine for 50 million dollars for saying he is not a good father.
At the end of the meeting Fellows told the officers ‘he didn’t wish to substantiate any allegations other than the one he had made against Ken Clarke MP’, the court heard.
But Bernard Richmond QC, representing Fellows, suggested that DCI Settle ‘crossed the boundary’ during the meeting by stating Joanna Lumley was involved in pornographic films.
Detective Inspector Keith Braithwaite, who also worked with the unit, said: ‘I am aware Mr Settle made reference to Joanna Lumley, I was a bit surprised by that statement, that she had been involved in pornographic films.
‘Whether it is a matter of rapport building with Mr Fellows, it is not the best way to do that, I think I would have dealt with that situation differently.’
DI Braithwaite denied there was ‘pressure to start delivering’ on his unit after Labour MP Tom Watson asked a question in parliament about a paedophile ring in the Palace of Westminster.
He explained: ‘There was no pressure to deliver but what was required was a thorough and meticulous investigation.
‘The purpose of the visit was to provide reassurance that the matter would be dealt with impartially and thoroughly and if he was to substantiate the allegation he would be offered the support.’
Fellows denies perverting the course of justice and the trial continues.
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