Former BBC chauffeur charged in Savile sex abuse probe

LONDON, April 03, 2013 (AFP) - British police investigating the Jimmy Savile abuse scandal charged a former BBC driver on Wednesday with sexually assaulting a teenage boy.

David Smith, 66, is the first person to be charged under Operation Yewtree, the high-profile Scotland Yard probe set up in the wake of revelations that late BBC star Savile was a prolific sex offender. The scandal rocked the BBC and has led to the arrests of several celebrities, including singer Gary Glitter, comedians Freddie Starr and Jim Davidson and radio presenter Stuart Hall.

Smith was charged with five offences including gross indecency on a boy under the age of 14 and buggery of a boy under 16. The offences are alleged to have taken place in 1984 and relate to one victim.

The Crown Prosecution Service said Smith, who was arrested last December, would appear at London's Westminster Magistrates' Court on May 8.

A BBC spokesman said she could not confirm whether Smith was employed by the broadcaster at the time of his alleged offences, as its records did not date back to 1984.

Savile was one of the BBC's biggest TV and radio personalities from the 1960s until the 1990s, known for his shock of white hair, love of gold jewellery and ever-present cigar.

A police investigation has concluded that the presenter, who died in 2011 aged 84, had abused children as young as eight over more than 50 years, using his fame to "hide in plain sight".

The BBC's new director-general Tony Hall, who started work on Tuesday, has been tasked with restoring the reputation of the world's biggest broadcaster in the wake of the scandal.

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