“This case should never have gone as far as this, or taken so long to resolve,” Harper said outside the courthouse. “The psychological and personal cost to my wife and myself has been enormous and the financial cost hugely unfair. I lost my livelihood and I spent my savings … and more, on my defense.”
Harper faced charges of sexual abuse and indecent assault in two cases, one allegedly involving an 11-year-old-girl in the Seventies, and the other a 16-year-old girl in the Eighties. In February, a jury cleared Harper of most charges, but failed to reach a verdict on some pertaining to the 11-year-old. While Harper faced a retrial, the prosecution ultimately dropped the remaining charges.
“[I]n this case it was decided that based on the strength of the evidence there is no longer a realistic prospect of a conviction,” a spokesperson for the Crown Prosecution Service said. “We will be meeting with the complainant and her family in order to fully explain our decision.”
The police first questioned Harper about the allegations in February 2013, and eventually issued him a summons later that year. In all, the musician faced 10 counts of sexual abuse, all of which he pleaded not guilty to when the trial began in January 2015.
With the case now officially closed, Harper expressed relief but also frustration, saying, “I realize these are difficult issues at this time in this society, and I thank my lawyers for standing by me and working so hard to show the truth. Despite coming out of this without a blemish on my name, I cannot recoup my costs and that’s left me incredibly angry.”
Harper has released 22 albums since his 1966 debut Sophisticated Beggar and has collaborated with many distinguished musicians. Led Zeppelin name-checked him on their Zeppelin III cut “Hats Off to (Roy) Harper,” and the musician has toured and recorded with Jimmy Page. Harper also sang lead vocals on Pink Floyd’s “Have a Cigar” from their 1975 album, Wish You Were Here.
Harper released his last album, Man and Myth in September 2013, as his legal battle began. Outside the court today, he said, “I’m now going to restart my working life where I left off nearly three years ago.”