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27 July 2015, 14:18
Former chancellor of the Exchequer Ken Clarke has dismissed the suggestion he molested a young actor from Birmingham as ``like Martians landing''.
Ben Fellows, 40, is on trial at the Old Bailey for make a false claim to police that he was groped by Mr Clarke in 1994.
He alleged that the heavyweight politician had plied him with alcohol and carried out the sexual assault in the office of political lobbyist Ian Greer during a cash-for-questions sting operation by ITV's The Cook Report.
In the autumn of 2012, he told national news reporters about the alleged assault, and stories were published in print and online, jurors were told.
He went on to make a statement to police after being interviewed by officers as part of Operation Fairbank - the high profile investigation into Westminster historic child sex abuse.
In it he claimed he had been assaulted while working as an undercover actor for ITV's Cook Report and that there were a number of people who had also worked on the show at the time and were aware of the alleged assault.
But giving evidence, Mr Clarke categorically stated that in all his life he ``never had the compulsion'' to grope a man.
Describing Fellows as a ``stalker'', he said: ``It's preposterous. It's off the Richter scale. It was a remarkable series of events.''
Mr Clarke, who has been an MP for 45 years, told how he was visited by police in June 2013 who informed him of Fellows' claim.
He said: ``I was already aware of it before then. I was first alerted by my son, who uses the internet, and he spotted somebody called Ben Fellows was making rather nasty allegations against me on the internet which upset my son and upset me as well.
``My staff made attempts to get it taken down but it was hopeless.
``By the time the police arrived I was aware what there was on the internet and newspapers. This guy for some reason was making this allegation against me over and over again, trying to publicise it.''
``It was quite a detailed allegation about place, incident - nothing to do with me.
``Apparently, while chancellor of the Exchequer, I was hanging around the office of Ian Greer and groped a man.
``My recollection was it was like Martians landing.''
Mr Clarke went on to deny knowing Mr Greer or going to his Westminster office.
He said: ``I never had any dealings with Ian Greer Associates in my life. Our paths never crossed.''
It was a ``complete mystery'' to him why this ``extremely persistent'' man was making the claims.
Under cross-examination, he was pressed by Bernard Richmond QC about Mr Greer, whose office was near the Colonies pub where Mr Clarke used to go with his Treasury team for lunch.
But Mr Clarke insisted that while he knew of him he could not recall ever meeting him at a cocktail party or anywhere else.
Asked why his personal assistant had recorded his meeting with police, the MP said: ``She was extremely nervous about the press picking this up. That would obviously have done nothing to the general calm of the daily events.''
He went on: ``I was being pursued by some fantasist on the social media seeking notoriety.''
Asked why he had not taken legal action, Mr Clarke told the jury that he did not want to spend ``vast amounts of money'' on a court injunction which would have ``turned the whole thing into a circus''.
Giving evidence in his defence, Fellows maintained that he had been groped by Mr Clarke in the office of lobbyist Mr Greer.
Asked by Mr Richmond if he had any doubt about that, Fellows replied: ``No.''
He told jurors that he was not very knowledgeable about politics and did not even know who John Major was, but insisted it was Mr Clarke because they had been introduced.
Mr Richmond said: ``He is clear in his evidence that he had never, ever met you before. Is there any possibility that you could be mistaken?''
Fellows said: ``I don't believe so. However, when I came forward I was under the impression that the video tapes still existed so if I was lying or mistaken that could be proven.''
His lawyer went on: ``The jurors read your statement where you make an allegation about being touched firstly by Ken Clarke and secondly by Ian Greer. Did that happen or not?''
The defendant replied: ``Yes, it did.''
Asked how he felt about it afterwards, Fellows 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, a former child actor, 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.''
Fellows, of Redstone Farm Road, Olton, Solihull, denies perverting the course of justice between November 14 2012 and December 1 2012.
The trial continues.