Exaro’s David Hencke also due as witness in case of ‘false allegations’ against ex-minister
By Tim Wood | 17 July 2015
Television investigator Roger Cook is to be a witness in the trial of a man accused of falsely alleging sexual assault by ex-minister Kenneth Clarke.
Benjamin Matthew Fellows, 40, an actor, is set to go on trial next week at the Old Bailey over the accusations that he made to police. Cook, who used to front The Cook Report, and Exaro’s David Hencke are due to be witnesses in the case.
Clarke, a former cabinet minister and Conservative grandee, may also give evidence.
Ben Fellows alleged that Clarke sexually assaulted him during undercover filming for The Cook Report in 1994. Fellows was allegedly posing at the time as a 15-year-old boy during an investigation into political lobbying.
Clarke was chancellor at the time.
Fellows made the allegation to the Metropolitan Police Service’s ‘Operation Fairbank’, which launched in 2012 to investigate claims mostly against senior political figures of sexual abuse against children.
But it is Fellows who will end up in the dock, charged with attempting to pervert the course of justice.
Exaro saw off an attempt in January to bar reporting of Clarke’s name in the case.
Normal reporting restrictions at this stage of criminal proceedings apply, including a bar on publishing anything that carries a substantial risk of seriously prejudicing the case in favour of either the prosecution or defence.
Cook and Hencke, who worked as a consultant for The Cook Report’s planned programme on political lobbying that was never broadcast, are due to be called by the prosecution.
Cook is best known for his trademark confrontations on camera with his targets. He presented The Cook Report from 1985 to 1998, according to the IMDb, the industry bible for television and film information.
Hencke, Whitehall correspondent of The Guardian from 1986 to 2009, was named “political journalist of the year” in 2012 for his work for Exaro.
Fellows, who appeared in two episodes of The Bill in 1991 and 1993, was charged in December with “doing acts tending or intended to pervert the course of justice” in late 2012. The particulars of the claim are that Fellows falsely alleged to police “that he had been indecently assaulted by Kenneth Clarke.”
Fellows, of Olton, Birmingham, has pleaded “not guilty”. The trial is scheduled to last for two weeks from Monday.
Clarke, who remains an MP, has been home secretary, education secretary and health secretary. He was justice secretary from 2010 to 2012 in the coalition government led by David Cameron, and continued as a cabinet minister without portfolio until July last year.
Meanwhile, Exaro revealed just over a week ago that BBC chiefs are braced for condemnation from an inquiry into the broadcaster’s failure over the paedophilia of one of its stars, Jimmy Savile.
Related Stories : Child sex abuse, ‘Fernbridge’ and ‘Fairbank’: Exaro story thread