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Latitude Festival rape probe finds 'no evidence'

PUBLISHED: 09:20 12 January 2011

POLICE have "hit a brick wall" in their investigation into an alleged rape at a Suffolk music and arts festival, the event's organiser has said.

Melvin Benn, who runs the Latitude Festival at Henham Park, near Southwold, said police were still looking into the incident but had “zero evidence.”

Suffolk police said they would still like to hear from anyone with information but that the alleged victim “wishes to move on and put this event behind her.”

The festival was rocked by two allegations of rape during the event in July last year and while police took no further action after investigating the second reported incident and making an arrest, the other has remained a live inquiry.

A 19-year-old woman said she had been attacked after asking a group of men for directions to a toilet in a campsite late on July 15. She was led to a secluded spot, where one of the men raped her, she said.

Police appealed for information about the alleged attack but no arrests have been made.

Mr Benn was asked about the police investigations as he answered questions from festival-goers on the Latitude website.

“The first allegation is ‘still being investigated’ but the truth is that the police have zero evidence of where it happened etc and have run into a brick wall on it,” he said.

A spokeswoman for Suffolk police said: “At the time the offence was reported officers carried out a large number of inquiries, including searching an area of the site where the incident was believed to have occurred, submitting items for forensic examination, talking to many concert-goers and the victim’s friends and appealing to those who attended the event for information via the media and posters.

“A thorough investigation has been carried out and all potential lines of inquiry have been followed. The victim and her family have been spoken to on a number of occasions and, with the passage of time, she now wishes to move on and put this event behind her.

“Should anyone have information that they believe is relevant then Suffolk Constabulary would like to hear from them.”

Mr Benn said he was keen to crack down on troublemakers at this year’s festival, due to take place from July 14 to July 17. He said he believed last year’s line-up attracted a younger, “new” audience to the event.

“I spent a lot of time in the campsite after the rape allegations and some of the younger end were behaving a little less well than I would have liked and I will do a lot to try and change that behaviour for this year and the future,” he said.

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