Comedian Freddie Starr has lost his damages claim against a woman who said he groped her when she attended a Jimmy Savile TV show when she was 15 years old.
The entertainer told London’s High Court last month that he did not at first remember appearing on Clunk Click in March 1974 – 41 years ago – until footage showed him in the studio, with Karin Ward in the audience behind him.
He rejected her allegation that he groped and humiliated her in Savile’s dressing room by calling her a “t**less wonder”.
Ms Ward, 56, denied the slander and libel claims and relied on the defences of justification and public interest.
Starr was not in court for the ruling.
Starr told Mr Justice Nicol: “It just never happened. It was not in my moral compass. My moral compass will not allow me to do that.”
The 72-year-old comedian, 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”.
He sued over interviews given to the BBC and ITV in October 2012 and statements on a website and in an eBook – and claimed he has lost £300,000 because of shows cancelled as a result of the allegations.
Ward said that she was sexually abused by her stepfather from the age of four and Starr’s “extremely unpleasant” smell reminded her of him.
The mother-of-seven, a pupil at Duncroft Approved School at the time, said she had performed a sexual act on Savile more than once in return for going to BBC Television Centre in London for his Clunk Click show.
She said she was given lithium at the school, which had affected her memory, but “very vividly” remembered that Starr stank of alcohol and cologne.
Starr had denied her claim that he smelt of alcohol – as he did not drink, and never had done.
Ms Ward told the court: “He called me a ’t**less wonder’. I carried that phrase with me all my life and it certainly helped to wreck three marriages.”
Ms Ward told the judge, who heard the case without a jury, that Starr had behaved in the same way that every red-blooded male did in 1974 – when it was perfectly acceptable.
She said she had no idea that what she had written about her life was going to be spread all over the globe.
“Had I ever ever anticipated that anything like this might possibly happen…I am very very naive, I am very silly, I am a complete technophobe.”
When she was contacted by the BBC in 2011 for a Newsnight interview about Savile, she was reluctant as she was having treatment for advanced bowel cancer.
She felt pressured to do the interview – in which she included the words complained of by Starr but did not identify him by name – but was convinced that the BBC would never air it and, as she felt she would not survive, did not think she was exposing herself to a great risk.
When the Newsnight programme did not go ahead, she had no control over the use the BBC made of the interview and never imagined that other programme makers would take the footage.
She said that when she spoke about Starr for the ITV interview about Savile to a journalist, who said he was building up a dossier, she did not know or intend that her words would be broadcast.
She told the court: “I am not prepared to apologise to the claimant or retract what I have said, because I have told the truth about him.”