Brian May’s driver in court on child sexual abuse charges

Tess de la Mare, PA
·3-min read

Brian May has defended his long-time chauffeur over allegations of sexual abuse, insisting he is a “gentle giant”.

Phillip Webb, 59, who has worked for the Queen guitarist and his wife, former EastEnders actress Anita Dobson, for more than 20 years, is accused of abusing a child between 1999 and 2006.

It is alleged Webb, of Epsom, Surrey, plied the complainant with drugs and alcohol to carry out the abuse, and is also said to have involved another child on some occasions.

Both May and Dobson appeared at Kingston Crown Court to give evidence in defence of Webb.

The jury heard the couple “love and believe” in their driver.

The defendant’s barrister said May and Dobson “gave the impression (Webb) is one of the nice guys”.

Webb faces three counts of indecency with a child, nine counts of indecent assault, and one count of engaging in sexual activity in the presence of a child.

He faces two further charges of causing or inciting a child under the age of 16 to engage in sexual activity.

The court heard that the defendant had discussed the complainant with Dobson, and that the actress had offered her thoughts and advice.

Brian May and Anita Dobson gave evidence on Thursday
Brian May and Anita Dobson gave evidence on Thursday (Jonathan Brady/PA)

But During May’s evidence, it emerged that the rock star had been unaware of Webb’s conviction for assaulting his ex’s new partner in 2003.

The jury were shown the complainant’s contemporaneous diary entries about the alleged abuse, and she had also mentioned it to adolescent mental health services.

One diary entry read: “I just want to talk to someone – people will think I want attention. I just want to be normal.”

Another said: “He did things to me that made me doubt my own mind.”

In another, the complainant wrote: “He chewed me up and spat me out.”

The complainant did not go to the police with her allegations until she was in her 20s, and Webb was not arrested until 2019.

The court heard that as well as May and Dobson, the defendant had also worked for the Japanese Embassy, the Japanese Imperial Family and the band Madness.

In his closing speech, prosecutor Richard Milne said: “Brian May didn’t miss a beat throughout his whole evidence save for one point when it was pointed out to him that Mr Webb pleaded guilty to assault occasioning actual bodily harm.”

He continued: “The defendant puts a spin on everything that reflects badly on him – there are two sides to Mr Webb, there’s the very friendly, kind, gentle giant side to him.

“There’s also a very dark side to him that he kept from everyone – because he could.”

“Even the complainant could hardly bring herself to tell anybody,” he said.

The jury heard the alleged victim had a history of drug and alcohol abuse and had previously attempted to take her own life.

Eleanor Laws QC, defending, said: “There is no independent supporting evidence whatsoever other than what has come out of the complainant’s mouth.”

Ms Laws said Webb had become “a demon to blame” for all of her addiction and mental health problems.

Discussing Mr Webb’s career, she said: “He’s got a good set of friends, a fabulous job – an actress and a musician – they were able to say they saw him day in, day out for 20 years and one thing is clear, they love him and they believe in him.”

Ms Laws added: “All of these character witnesses were prepared to come to court and say these things about him.”

She continued: “Witness after witness all had a very similar message to tell you – people you might think would not be easy to fool.

“His employers – who have both been with him day in, day out – gave the impression he is one of the nice guys.

“Straightforward, loud, hard working, fun, quick to swear, quick to shout but a genuinely gentle giant – and that was said by a number of different people.”

The jury is due to retire to consider its verdict on Monday afternoon.