In the days before the Internet and mobile phones, radio was uppermost in the dissemination of pop music and showbiz gossip. In particular, BBC Radio 1 was the Holy Grail and its DJs were like the Simon Cowell’s of their day.
One such DJ was Dave Lee Travis, affectionately dubbed The Hairy Cornflake or ‘DLT.’ Disc jockeys like Travis had real credibility and kudos amongst their fans as Radio One was one of the few places young people could gain access to information and updates concerning their favourite stars. Travis and his colleagues would also make regular TV appearances on the weekly music show Top of the Pops.
It is clear since the actions of Jimmy Savile came to light that there was a culture of “anything goes” at the BBC when the fame, celebrity and notoriety enjoyed by Travis and his colleagues was at its peak. Fame can also result in chutzpah, and a feeling that one is untouchable and irreplaceable.
Yet, it was all these qualities and more which were in evidence as he irascibly preached to the assembled media outside Southwark Crown Court yesterday. In his statement to the waiting media he tried to wheedle and cajole the public into believing that the offence with which he was charged somehow happened due to circumstances beyond his control. He spoke demonstrating no remorse in relation to the offence committed, nor did he show any empathy for the victim. Instead, he painted himself as the victim, the wronged and inconvenienced party who had been crippled by the court case.
This brings us back to much more familiar territory. Familiar, because this is what perpetrators so often do. As a disc jockey, Dave Lee Travis was a master of the use of language. He wanted to convince us that he had done nothing wrong, and avoid taking responsibility. His courting of the media yesterday showed that he is a man unwilling to rescind the grip of celebrity, a man who wants to be in ultimate control. Yesterday represented a show of defiance, and a point-blank refusal to take any responsibility for his own actions, preferring instead to blame the Crown Prosecution Service for wasting money on two trials.
In plentiful evidence here are the hallmarks of most abusers, power and control. In his own small way, David Griffin probably wanted to control the reporting of yesterday’s events. He is a man in denial, at least publicly. He spoke of being mortified. How then must his victims have felt?
At best, he is delusional. At worst he is a cruel and cold-blooded narcissist who painted himself as a victim in all of this. Seeing him on the steps of Southwark Crown Court yesterday outraged me. The cruelest irony is that the statements he made could have been from the victim. When he suggests that it is of little comfort to him that he was acquitted of so many offences, I am in no doubt that it is of little comfort to his victims too. In an ultimate act of hubris he denies that he is a sexual predator. A conviction for indecent assault however makes his denial somewhat incorrect.
The victim spoke in an impact statement of her pain at being called a liar and a fantasist. Dave Lee Travis is a perpetrator. He is absolutely not a victim. Perhaps he is in complete denial about what he has done.
That is what annoyed me about his appearance in front of the cameras yesterday. He refused to acknowledge that he had brought this upon himself. If he had never indecently assaulted his victim, he would never have been in court. People do not receive convictions for criminal offences for no good reason. He wants us to believe that he and his family know the truth. His victim also knows the truth. Combative and remorseless to the last he even shouted in court at the Sunday Times journalist Camilla Long, telling her she was making him uncomfortable. How must your victim have felt then? When you squeezed her breasts for 10 to 15 seconds? I suppose she was highly comfortable and ecstatic? Not.
When they are convicted of a criminal offence most people would leave the courtroom quietly by the nearest exit. Not so Travis – a showman until the end. Perhaps times were not so different when Travis was at the height of his fame on Radio One. Misogyny was rife and victims were disbelieved, but what Travis seemed to resent most of all was being held to account for his actions. His faux bemusement did not fool me however.
What I fail to understand though is why the media allowed this man to showboat in front of the cameras after being convicted of a criminal offence. It is because of such showboating, the ability to talk and manipulate that The Hairy Cornflake thought he was untouchable. Well, not this time. The milk has soured and we know the truth. The actions of the media were disrespectful to victims everywhere. There should not have been a single microphone outside the court room to allow DLT to spread his message. There was no hint of contrition. Unlike radio, it is one incidence where silence would have been better.
The people whose humanity he disregarded will have to live with the trauma his actions he visited upon them for the rest of their lives. Yet, all too often women are told to get over it, don’t get angry, he didn’t mean anything by it. I say don’t get over it, be angry, and to quote him “we know the truth.”