Claims that Dave Lee Travis was seen as a sexual predator while working at a commercial radio station are ‘totally ludicrous’, a woman who worked there at the time has told his trial.
Caroline Bonfield, who worked at Chiltern Radio as PA to the group managing director, told jurors there was no way female colleagues saw the former BBC presenter as a ‘sex pest’.
She said that if anyone had reason to think so at the time, ‘it would have gone around the station like wildfire’.
Travis, now 68, is on trial accused of indecently assaulting 10 women and sexually assaulting another in incidents dating back to 1976 and the height of his fame.
He denies all the charges.
Ms Bonfield and three other women who worked at the radio station all spoke warmly of Travis’s ‘tactile’ nature as they appeared as defence witnesses at London’s Southwark Crown Court.
Travis, known as DLT, is alleged to have inappropriately touched three female colleagues while working there in the early 2000s.
Ms Bonfield said she was never aware any of the staff felt Travis acted inappropriately towards them and said no allegations were made at the time.
“It makes absolutely no sense to me at all,” she told jurors. “I feel I would have known about it if there was.”
Asked by Stephen Vullo, for the defence, if she could have missed anything, the witness said: “I don’t think that’s a possibility, no.
“Anything like that would have gone around the station like wildfire. In any office it would, but particularly in the media.
“There was never any talk about it at all, and we did talk about sleazy men.”
Mr Vullo asked whether, if there were concerns about the defendant’s conduct at the time, the radio station might have covered it up due to him being their ‘big man’.
Ms Bonfield said: “There was quite a robust HR department, there was no way it would have been allowed.”
She described Travis as ‘fabulous’ and said he was very popular among his colleagues.
“He was a breath of fresh air at the studio,” she said. “He was funny, he was kind. Generous of nature. We loved having him about.”
Ms Bonfield said Travis was ‘very tactile’.
“He enjoyed the big bear hugs and cuddles,” she said, adding that he would hug people in a ‘vice-like grip’.
“There was no stroking or patting,” she said. “It was just like ‘grrrrr’ and you got a big old cuddle and he let you go.”
Ms Bonfield also said Travis would sometimes give her ‘shoulders a good old squeeze’.
“I never had a problem with that,” she said, but she admitted it might not have been ‘everyone’s cup of tea’.
Another former colleague, Vicki Turner, told jurors she had “not ever” witnessed him acting inappropriately and would have reported him if she had, as she has done with other colleagues encountered in her radio career.
She described Travis as ‘fun, very professional, very helpful, very kind’.
She added: “He was happy to be there. He wanted to be liked. I think most radio presenters have an ego which needs to be stroked.”
Laurette Holmes also said she had ‘never’ seen Travis behave inappropriately at the radio station.
“He was a tactile person,” she said. “If someone was down he’d say ‘oh, give us a hug’. He was just a father figure really.”
Earlier, Travis’s former personal assistant, Gemma Nurden, described him as a ‘lovely person’.
“When Dave met people, he’d give them a big sort of bear hug,” she told jurors.
“He just sort of would always put his arms around people but not in a seedy way or anything – just in a friendly way.”
Ms Nurden, who said she worked for Travis from September 1992 to 2002, was asked by Mr Vullo if he was seen as a ‘sexual predator’ by colleagues at the station, where she accompanied him every day.
“That’s completely untrue,” she said. “I never saw anything to make me think that at all.”
The witness said she began working for the radio star a few days a week after his wife Marianne had an operation, carrying out household tasks for the couple, and feeding their chickens and pigs.
She became his PA a year later when he left the BBC and began working in commercial radio.
“He’s great fun,” she said. “He was a very sort of larger-than-life character. He would chat to anybody.
“He wasn’t sort of like a big superstar that wouldn’t talk to a doorman or anything like that, and just a lovely person.”
When asked whether she noticed the smell of the defendant’s ‘pungent aftershave’ as he walked in the room – as other witnesses have said – Travis gave a loud sigh in the dock as Ms Nurden said: “Yes.”
Travis – on trial under his birth name David Griffin – denies 13 indecent assaults between 1976 and 2003 and one sexual assault in 2008.