Birmingham Actor Cleared Over Sex Abuse Claims

An actor from Solihull has been cleared of perverting the course of justice by making up a story that he was molested by former chancellor Kenneth Clarke during a cash-for-questions TV sting 20 years ago.

Ben Fellows, 40, alleged that the leading politician 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.

Mr Clarke insisted he had never in his life ``had the compulsion'' to grope another man as he dismissed the claim as ``preposterous'', ``off the Richter scale'' and ``like Martians landing''.

After eight hours of deliberations the jury at the Old Bailey found Fellows, of Redstone Farm Road, Olton, not guilty of perverting the course of justice between November 14 2012 and December 1 2012.

The court had heard how in the autumn of 2012, Fellows told national news reporters about the alleged assault when he was 19 years old and stories were published in print and in his own blog.

He went on to make a statement to police officers from Operation Fairbank - the high profile investigation into Westminster historic child sex abuse.

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.''

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 former child actor had also claimed he had been abused by a number of people in the entertainment industry, including a senior female executive at the BBC whom he claimed seduced him when he was aged between 14 and 16.

Fellows, who was described as ``an inventive and sometimes persuasive fantasist'', claimed he had been invited to a cocaine-fuelled party on BBC premises hosted by two of Britain's biggest stars of the day.

Giving evidence in his defence, Fellows stood by his allegation against Mr Clarke.

Asked how he felt about it afterwards, he said: ``It was not upsetting at all. It was weird but not upsetting. To put this in context - this was no more than a minor groping you would get in a nightclub on a Saturday night.''

Fellows told the jury he was upset when police told him that abuse in the showbiz world was just about Jimmy Savile and limited to the BBC.

Asked if he had anything personal against Mr Clarke, he said: ``No, nothing whatsoever, apart from what happened in that office. I did not take it personally. I was part of the team.''

However, veteran broadcaster Roger Cook told the trial that he had never even heard of Fellows until someone pointed out his blog claiming to have worked on the Cook Report in 1990.

He told the court that particular show was never aired and if there had been any allegations around at the time, it would have been ``an enormous story''.

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