British comedian Freddie Starr was arrested on Thursday by police investigating sexual abuse allegations against the late TV star Jimmy Savile, media reports said.
Police said they had arrested a man in his 60s on suspicion of sexual offences. The BBC and Sky News named him as Starr, who has previously denied claims that he groped one of Savile’s alleged victims.
He becomes the second person arrested in the investigation after former glam rocker Gary Glitter was held and then released on bail on Sunday.
Starr found fame as a comedian in the 1970s and is best known as the subject of one of the most memorable headlines in British newspaper history, when The Sun ran the 1986 front-page splash: “Freddie Starr Ate My Hamster.”
“Officers working on Operation Yewtree have this evening … arrested a man in his 60s in connection with the investigation,” police investigating the Savile claims said in a statement.
“The man, from Warwickshire [central England], was arrested … on suspicion of sexual offences and has been taken into police custody locally. The individual falls under the strand of the investigation we have termed ‘Savile and others.’ We are not prepared to discuss further,” it added.
The arrest follows claims by a woman who has publicly accused Savile of abusing her that Starr touched her while they were both in a BBC dressing room in the 1970s, when she was just 14.
The 69-year-old comedian denied this and in a television interview last month said he wanted to speak to police to clear his name.
“I would never, ever, ever touch an underage girl,” Starr said, and branded Savile “despicable.” He urged police to contact him over what he described as “false accusations.”
Savile, who died last year aged 84 after a long career in British television and radio, has been accused of abusing around 300 victims over a 40-year period at a number of institutions, including the BBC and three hospitals.
The scandal has snowballed since claims that Savile molested underage girls were aired in a television documentary last month, leading to the arrests of Glitter, whose real name is Paul Gadd, and now Starr.
NatWest bank said on Thursday it had frozen Savile’s estate, which the Financial Times said was worth ￡4.3 million (US$6.9 million). Of this, ￡3.7 million was to be held by NatWest on behalf of Savile’s charitable trust.
Lawyers representing Savile’s alleged victims are expected to sue for damages.