Sunday Mirror columnist Carole Malone says too much money was wasted on chasing a celebrity scalp when thousands of rapists go unprosecuted
Dave Lee Travis walked free from court with a three-month suspended sentence for groping a woman’s breasts 19 years ago. He has been found not guilty of 14 other charges of sexual and indecent assault.
So the sentence fits the crime. But was it worth two years of police and court time? Was it worth the destruction of Travis’ life, his reputation, his career?
What happened to Dave Lee Travis wasn’t done in the quest for justice. It was a witch hunt by a bunch of coppers smarting from the drubbing so many of them took over the Jimmy Savile case.
But DLT isnt Jimmy Savile. Nor is he Rolf Harris or Max Clifford.
He’s a bloke who groped a woman 19 years ago.
And do I think that grope would have scarred the TV researcher whose breasts he grabbed? Do I think the experience would have left her in need psychiatric counselling? No I don’t.
Being groped isn’t nice. It’s pesky, it’s irritating and blokes who do should expect a smack in the face or a kick in the goolies from the women they do it to. Maybe even a visit from plod.
But those two years police spent trying to nail Travis would have been better spent trying to catch paedophiles, rapists and real sexual predators.
Yes, men like Travis are pests. They’re also sleazy and a bit pathetic to have to get their kicks in this way.
And obviously no man should ever be allowed to think he can touch up women without there being consequences.
However, if police spent more of their limited time and resources hunting dangerous sex criminals – and less on celebrity gropers – the world would be a safer place.
A study this month from the Office of National Statistics says there are 473,000 sex attacks every year but of those only 54,310 are recorded by the police with just 5,620 convictions.
The same stats say fewer than one in 30 rapes lead to a conviction. And of the 78,000 victims raped every year only 1,070 rapists are convicted. How wrong is that?
More importantly rape convictions are at a four-year low – hardly surprising if officers are spending all their time chasing celebrity gropers.
So why aren’t they pursuing rapists, who really DO wreck women’s lives, with the same kind of zeal as they pursued Travis?
I’m not saying I’d want to be trapped in a lift with the bloke – although I suspect he’d come off worst. However there needs to be perspective here, a distinction between hardened sex attackers and those who try to cop a feel.
Yes, groping is unacceptable but in the scheme of sex crimes its pretty low down.
The TV presenter who said he’d assaulted her when she was a researcher on Mrs Merton said in court that recalling what had happened to her had been painful. What, so painful she now laughs and jokes about it with audiences?
As for journalist Camilla Long – who Travis shouted at in court before he was sentenced and who says he groped every part of her body during a 90-minute interview. Well, why the hell did she hang around for 90 minutes and let him? Why didn’t she slug him and storm out. But then maybe there wouldn’t have been a good enough feature in that?
Yes, DLT should have been exposed and humiliated for what he did.
Yes, he should have been convicted. But this case should never have been brought to court. It has cost taxpayers millions of pounds and it has cost Travis his home, his career, his sanity and his ability to ever work again.
And for what – a three month suspended sentence?