Lifestyle & Belief

Jimmy Tarbuck, British comedian, arrested over alleged sex abuse of boy


Jimmy Tarbuck, shown here with comedian Pamela Stephenson in July 2008 in London, England. Tarbuck is the latest British celebrity to be questioned over allegations of sex abuse.


Dan Kitwood

LONDON, UK — Jimmy Tarbuck, a British comedian and TV host, has been arrested in connection with the alleged sexual abuse of a young boy.

Citing sources, the Guardian reported that Tarbuck, 73, was questioned by North Yorkshire police in relation to an incident that allegedly occurred in the late 1970s.

The alleged victim was at the time a young boy.

A police spokesman said:

"North Yorkshire police can confirm that a 73-year-old man has been arrested in connection with a historic child sex abuse investigation in Harrogate. The man was arrested in Kingston Upon Thames on Friday 26 April 2013."

Tarbuck lives in Kingston-Upon-Thames, southwest London. He was reportedly released on bail.

The arrest followed the passing of information from Metropolitan police officers investigating Jimmy Savile, the BBC television host who died in 2011 and who is now linked to hundreds of cases of abuse.

Operation Yewtree was set up following Savile's death in 2011, when hundreds of sex abuse allegations came to light.

The arrests made in relation to Operation Yewtree have included about a dozen men who were well-known figures in a bygone era of British TV and media — including Rolf Harris (82, TV presenter), Max Clifford (70, celebrity publicist) and Freddie Starr (70, comedian).

As Sarah Lyall put it in the New York Times, “it is as if Captain Kangaroo, Dick Clark and Jerry Lewis were suddenly being accused of committing sexual crimes dating back 30 or 40 years.”

Most of those arrested have denied the charges against them.

Police have stressed that Tarbruck's arrest "is not part of Yewtree, but a separate investigation" by North Yorkshire Police, the BBC reported.

On Thursday, Stuart Hall — a silver-voiced fixture on UK radio and TV airwaves for more than 50 years — confessed to 14 sexual crimes against girls as young as 9.

Said his lawyer, speaking in the same court where Hall had once defended his innocence: "He is not a man easily moved to self-pity, but he is only too aware that his disgrace is complete."

On Wednesday, police arrested William Roache, an 81-year-old actor on the popular soap opera “Coronation Street,” and charged him with the rape of a 15-year-old in 1967.

In a statement Thursday, Roache said: “I am astounded and deeply horrified by the extraordinary events of the last 24 hours. 'I strenuously deny the allegations and will now focus my full attention on fighting to preserve my innocence in the challenging times ahead.”

Roache has been suspended from “Coronation Street” during the investigation, joining others who have been dropped by their employers or pulled off the air since being publicly associated with the investigation.

The children’s shows “Olive the Ostrich” and “Animal Clinic,” both voiced by Rolf Harris, have been yanked off the air.

As Tarbuck joins a lengthening list of UK media personalities accused of abuse, people took to Twitter to bemoan the fall of yet another entertainer and to wonder — who's next?

"Jimmy Savile, Rolf Harris, Jimmy Tarbuck ... I'm telling you, Santa Claus is next!" the actor Gerard McCarthy tweeted.

Tarbuck has an OBE — an Order of the British Empire — described on the official website of the British Monarchy as recognizing "distinguished service to the arts and sciences."

More from GlobalPost: From Savile to 'Street,' British celebrity sex abuse scandal hits BBC and beyond

Corrine Purtill contributed reporting from London.