Stephen Fry left an audience in shocked silence at a Labour fundraiser attended by Ed Miliband by publicly criticising the Operation Yewtree investigation into historic sex abuse.
The Labour-supporting comedian, who was hosting the event, complained that less than 50 per cent of those people held under Yewtree have been found guilty and that those who make false accusations should be prosecuted.
But last night Mr Miliband’s office issued a rebuke to Mr Fry by insisting that the party fully supported Yewtree and making clear that Mr Miliband’s ‘thoughts were with the victims’.
Mr Fry singled out for criticism Keir Starmer, the former Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), who was present at the gala dinner last Wednesday.
Mr Starmer was the architect of the successful prosecutions under Yewtree – the Scotland Yard operation spawned by the Jimmy Savile abuse scandal – of entertainer Rolf Harris, publicity guru Max Clifford and TV presenter Stuart Hall.
But Yewtree has also led to failed prosecutions against entertainers including Coronation Street star William Roache. And cases were dropped against comedians Freddie Starr, Jim Davidson and Jimmy Tarbuck after months of destructive publicity.
Mr Fry’s friend, the BBC DJ Paul Gambaccini, was arrested in October as part of Operation Yewtree on suspicion of historical sexual offences, but was released on bail and has never been charged with any offence.
Mr Fry, 56, is understood to be infuriated that the failure to charge Mr Gambaccini has received significantly less publicity than his arrest, leaving an unfair stain on his character.
( moreCollapse )