Birmingham & Black Country

Ken Clarke sex abuse accuser Ben Fellows is cleared

Ben Fellows Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Ben Fellows said the MP had plied him with alcohol

A man who claimed he was sexually assaulted by former Chancellor Kenneth Clarke has been cleared of perverting the course of justice.

Ben Fellows, 40, of Solihull, in the West Midlands, had said the Conservative MP abused him in 1994.

In the trial at the Old Bailey Mr Clarke - the MP for Rushcliffe - described the claims as "preposterous".

The jury took eight hours to find Mr Fellows, of Redstone Farm Road, Olton, not guilty of the charge.

'Like Martians landing'

During the trial, the court heard that in 2012 Mr Fellows told national news reporters Mr Clarke had assaulted him in the office of a political lobbyist during a cash-for-questions sting by ITV's The Cook Report.

Mr Clarke said he had never in his life "had the compulsion" to grope another man as he dismissed the claim as "off the Richter scale" and "like Martians landing".

The court heard Mr Fellows had made a statement to officers from a high-profile investigation into Westminster historical child sex abuse.

Prosecutor Duncan Atkinson said: "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.

"The defendant said in a witness statement that whilst engaged in that capacity, he had been sexually assaulted [by] Kenneth Clarke MP."

'Persuasive fantasist'

When officers checked out Mr Fellows' version of events, they concluded they were false and began treating him as a suspect rather than a victim.

The former child actor 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.

Mr Fellows was described in court as "an inventive and sometimes persuasive fantasist".

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

Image copyright PA
Image caption Kenneth Clarke was a "victim and a witness", his representative said

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

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

Speaking after the trial, a representative for Mr Clarke said: "The police always made it clear they regarded Mr Clarke as a victim and a witness in this case.

"Since receiving the verdict, they have assured Mr Clarke they regard this matter as closed, and Mr Clarke takes the same view."

Speaking outside the court, Mr Fellows said: "I shall make no further comment now or in the future about Mr Clarke."

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