Jimmy Savile sexual abuse scandal
In September and October 2012, almost a year after his death, claims were widely publicised that the English DJ and BBC television presenter Jimmy Savile had committed sexual abuse, his alleged victims ranging from prepubescent girls and boys to adults. By 11 October 2012 allegations had been made to 13 British police forces, and this led to the setting-up of inquiries into practices at the BBC and within the National Health Service.
On 19 October the Metropolitan Police Service launched a formal criminal investigation, Operation Yewtree, into historic allegations of child sexual abuse by Savile and other people, some of whom were still living, over four decades. It stated that it was pursuing over 400 separate lines of inquiry, based on the claims of 200 witnesses, via 14 police forces across the UK. It described the alleged abuse as being "on an unprecedented scale", and the number of potential victims as "staggering". By 19 December, eight people had been questioned as part of the investigation. The Metropolitan Police stated that the total number of alleged victims was 589, of whom 450 alleged abuse by Savile.
The report of the investigations undertaken jointly by the police and the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), Giving Victims a Voice, was published on 11 January 2013. It reported allegations covering a period of fifty years, including 214 alleged acts by Savile which, though uncorroborated, have been formally recorded as crimes, some involving children as young as eight. The report states "within the recorded crimes there are 126 indecent acts and 34 rape/penetration offences." Alleged offences took place at 13 hospitals as well as on BBC premises, according to the report. In October 2013 it was announced that inquiries had been extended to other hospitals.
Much of Savile's career involved working with children and young people, including visiting schools and hospital wards. He spent 20 years presenting Top of the Pops before a teenage audience, and an overlapping 20 years presenting Jim'll Fix It, in which he helped the wishes of viewers, mainly children, come true. During his lifetime, two police investigations had looked into reports about Savile, the earliest known being in 1958, but none had led to charges; the reports had each concluded that there was insufficient evidence for any charges to be brought related to sexual offences. In October 2012 it was announced that the Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer, would investigate why proceedings against Savile in 2009 were dropped.
- 1 Background
- 2 Aborted Newsnight report
- 3 Exposure: The Other Side of Jimmy Savile
- 4 New allegations
- 5 Police and related investigations
- 6 BBC comments and investigations
- 7 Department of Health investigations
- 8 Call for single inquiry
- 9 Related actions
- 10 See also
- 11 References
- 12 Further reading
- 13 External links
Savile claimed the key to his success on Jim'll Fix It had been that he disliked children, although he later admitted to saying it to deflect scrutiny of his personal life. He did not own a computer, as he did not want people to think he was downloading child pornography. In a 1990 interview for The Independent on Sunday, Lynn Barber asked him about rumours that he liked "little girls". Savile said:
"...the young girls in question don't gather round me because of me – it's because I know the people they love, the stars... I am of no interest to them."
"[We] live in a very funny world. And it's easier for me, as a single man, to say "I don't like children" because that puts a lot of salacious tabloid people off the hunt.... How do they know whether I am [a paedophile] or not? How does anybody know whether I am? Nobody knows whether I am or not. I know I'm not."
Broadcaster and journalist Orla Barry, on the Irish radio station Newstalk in 2007, asked him about allegations aired during the Theroux documentary. When asked about the paedophilia rumours, Savile responded, "What rumours?" In 2012, Barry expressed surprise that other journalists had not pursued the matter, saying "Maybe in the UK they were slightly closer to him."
In 2007, Savile was interviewed under caution by police investigating an allegation of indecent assault at the now-closed Duncroft Approved School for Girls near Staines in the 1970s when he was a regular visitor. The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) advised there was insufficient evidence to take any further action and no charges were brought. In 2012 it was reported that staff at the school had not been questioned about the allegations at the time. The former headmistress of the school said she had been "hoodwinked" by Savile, but described some of those who had brought the allegations as "delinquents".
In March 2008, Savile started legal proceedings against The Sun newspaper which had linked him in several articles to child abuse at the Jersey children's home Haut de la Garenne. Savile denied visiting Haut de la Garenne, but admitted he had after a photograph was published showing him at the home surrounded by children. The States of Jersey Police said an allegation of indecent assault by Savile at the home in the 1970s had been investigated in 2008, but there had been insufficient evidence to proceed.
Aborted Newsnight report
Savile died on 29 October 2011 aged 84. At the time of his death, and funeral in Leeds Cathedral, he was widely praised for his charity and voluntary activities as well as his entertainment work.
Immediately after Savile's death, Meirion Jones and Liz Mackean from the BBC programme Newsnight began to investigate reports that he was a paedophile. They interviewed one alleged underage victim on camera and talked to a number of others who were willing to be quoted about alleged abuse at Duncroft approved school near London, the BBC, and Stoke Mandeville hospital. The Newsnight team, which included former police detective Mark Williams-Thomas, also found out about the Surrey police investigation into Savile. The report was scheduled for broadcast on 7 December 2011, but a decision was taken to cancel its transmission, which ultimately developed into a major crisis for the BBC when the ITV documentary was screened in October 2012. The subsequent Pollard Review found that Jones and MacKean assembled cogent evidence that Savile had a history of abusing young women and Newsnight was in a position to break the story in 2011. No mention of the dropped Newsnight report was made in public at the time.
In January and February 2012, several newspapers reported that Newsnight had investigated allegations of sexual abuse immediately after Savile's death but that the report had been shelved. An article by Miles Goslett in The Oldie alleged a cover-up. The BBC showed two Savile tributes over the 2011 Christmas period, and it was alleged that the Newsnight report had been dropped because its content would have compromised them. A Newsnight spokesman said, "Any suggestion that a story was dropped for anything other than editorial reasons is completely untrue."
In October 2013, the transcript of a Surrey Police interview with Savile in 2009 was published after a request under the Freedom of information Act. Savile denied the sexual abuse allegations relating to the Duncroft Approved School in the 1970s which were put to him by the police, saying "I've never, ever done anything wrong" and stating that the accusers wanted a "few quid".
Exposure: The Other Side of Jimmy Savile
An ITV documentary, Exposure: The Other Side of Jimmy Savile was broadcast on 3 October 2012. It was researched and presented by Mark Williams-Thomas, a police investigator in the successful prosecution of Jonathan King over sexual offences involving children in 2001.
In it several women said that, as teenagers, they had been sexually abused by Savile. It was said Savile obtained access to teenage girls through television programmes such as Top of the Pops and Clunk, Click (1973-74), and his charity work. Savile's former colleagues said he made no attempt to hide his interest in girls from them, while another said she had walked in on him french kissing an underage girl. One woman who said Savile had sexually assaulted her when she was 14 in 1970 explained she had not pursued her complaint to police in 2008 after being told it would lead to a "media circus". The founder of ChildLine, Esther Rantzen, was shown the interviews by Williams-Thomas and commented that "There were always rumours that he [Savile] behaved very inappropriately sexually with children."
An update to the original documentary, Exposure Update: The Jimmy Savile Investigation, was shown on ITV on 21 November.
Following the broadcast of the ITV documentary, many people came forward to make allegations about Savile's conduct towards young people. Some abuse was said to have taken place on BBC premises. It was claimed that Savile had abused at least one boy as well as numerous girls.
Claims were made about Savile's activities in hospitals. It was claimed that he sexually abused a 13-year-old patient during a visit to Stoke Mandeville Hospital in 1971 and an eight-year-old girl in the same hospital recovering from an operation. Staff reported he searched the wards for young patients to abuse, and they instructed patients in the children's ward to feign sleep during his visits. A hospital spokesman said, though it was working with the police, it had no record of inappropriate behaviour by Savile.
A former nurse said she saw Savile molest a brain-damaged patient at Leeds hospital, saying, "He kissed her, and I thought he was a visitor coming to see her, and he started rubbing his hands down her arms and then I don't know of a nice way to put it but he molested her."
Savile was a volunteer at the adult high-security psychiatric Broadmoor Hospital, and in August 1988 was appointed to chair an interim task force overseeing the management of the hospital, after its management board had been suspended. It is alleged that Savile had hospital keys and access to patients' rooms. In a separate allegation, a lawyer said a client had been abused by Savile when he was a 10-year-old at the Haut de la Garenne children's home in Jersey.
Julie Fernandez, who later appeared in BBC television programmes Eldorado and The Office, was invited to a BBC studio to appear on Jim'll Fix It. She recalled her experience in a radio interview: "I was in my wheelchair, but I just remember [Savile's] hands being everywhere and just lingering those two, three, four seconds slightly too long in places they shouldn't [...] It was in a busy room full of people in a studio so it was quite discreetly done and you don't kind of realise what's happening at the time, especially when you're 14 and it's the first time you've ever been in a studio and you're very excited. But I do remember feeling uncomfortable and he had these huge rings on his fingers."
Singer Coleen Nolan said Savile invited her to a hotel when she was 14 and had been involved in a TV recording at the Top of the Pops studio and that it made her "uncomfortable", "But you didn't talk about those things then." Savile's great-niece Caroline Robinson said she had been sexually abused by him twice at family gatherings. She believed some members of the family knew about his abuse but had turned a blind eye to it.
The British Prime Minister, David Cameron, said that he was "truly shocked" by the published allegations, which should be "properly investigated". The Jimmy Savile Charitable Trust stated that it was considering giving funds to those working with victims of sexual abuse, and that it may change its name because of the allegations; the trust later announced that it would close. As part of the investigations, enquiries would be made into allegations of abuse when Savile worked as a volunteer at Leeds General Infirmary.
The Metropolitan Police Service stated on 4 October 2012 that its Child Abuse Investigation Command would lead a process of assessing the allegations. By 9 October the Metropolitan Police had formally recorded eight allegations against Savile, but announced that it was following up 120 lines of inquiry, covering up to 25 alleged victims of abuse, mainly girls aged between 13 and 16. These covered a period spanning four decades, from 1959 until the 1980s, and were on "a national scale". An inquiry process, known as Operation Yewtree, was set up jointly with the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), and involving other organisations including the BBC and ITV. Commander Peter Spindler, head of specialist crime investigations, said: "At this stage it is quite clear from what women are telling us that Savile was a predatory sex offender."
On 19 October 2012 the Metropolitan Police launched a formal criminal investigation into historic allegations of child sex abuse by Savile over four decades. It stated that it was pursuing over 400 separate lines of inquiry based on evidence of 200 witnesses via 14 police forces across the UK. Commander Spindler said: "We are dealing with alleged abuse on an unprecedented scale. The profile of this operation has empowered a staggering number of victims to come forward to report the sexual exploitation which occurred during their childhood." John Cameron of the NSPCC said that Savile was "a well-organised prolific sex offender, who's used his power, his authority, his influence to procure children and offend against them."
On 25 October the police reported that the number of possible victims was "fast approaching 300". It was also reported that police were looking at allegations that three doctors in hospitals with which Savile had been associated had been involved in the abuse of young people in their care.
By 19 December, eight people had been arrested for questioning, and later bailed, as part of the inquiry. These included former pop star Gary Glitter; comedian Freddie Starr; former BBC producers Wilfred De'ath and Ted Beston; DJ Dave Lee Travis; publicist Max Clifford; and two unnamed men, one in his 80s, and one in his 60s. Travis stated that his arrest had been connected with matters not linked to children. Clifford denied what he termed the "damaging and totally untrue allegations".
In early 2013, comedian Jim Davidson and two unnamed men were arrested as part of the inquiry, bringing the total to 11. De'Ath was later told that he would not face any charges, and said that the police action had been "overzealous". In May 2013, it was reported that Ted Beston would not face prosecution due to insufficient evidence.
On 12 December, Commander Peter Spindler said that the investigation had been completed and that the report of Operation Yewtree was being prepared for publication early in 2013. He said that a total of 589 alleged victims of abuse had come forward in the inquiry, of whom 450 alleged abuse by Savile. Of the alleged victims, 82% were female and 80% were children or young people. There were 31 allegations of rape by Savile, across seven police force areas. Commander Spindler said: "Savile's offending peaked in the 70s and what we... will be showing... is how he used his position in society... to get his sexual gratification." The operation had involved 30 police officers, and its cost so far was estimated at about £2 million.
On 11 January 2013, Giving Victims a Voice...a report into allegations of sexual abuse made against Jimmy Savile under Operation Yewtree, a joint report of the Metropolitan Police Service and the NSPCC was published under the logo of the Crown Prosecution Service. Among its conclusions are that "It is now clear that Savile was hiding in plain sight and using his celebrity status and fundraising activity to gain uncontrolled access to vulnerable people across six decades. For a variety of reasons the vast majority of his victims did not feel they could speak out and it's apparent that some of the small number who did had their accounts dismissed by those in authority including parents and carers."
The document was given wide publicity throughout the media. Journalist Charles Moore wrote in The Daily Telegraph that he had read the whole report and it did not reveal the extent of abuse as the BBC website had stated in the lead headline "Jimmy Savile scandal: Report reveals extent of abuse". He remarked that there was no evidence in the report which a court would recognise. Instead it assumed that because uncorroborated allegations had been made, the offences were committed, and, treating allegations as facts, it declared that 214 incidents had now been "formally recorded" as crimes. Moore commented that by doing so the report undermined justice. Jonathan Brown, writing in The Independent, said that the report "revealed a man who used his celebrity status and outwardly well-intended works to gain access to and ultimately rape and sexually exploit hundreds of vulnerable young star-struck victims..."
In March 2013 Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary reported that 214 of the complaints that had been made against Savile after his death would have been criminal offences if they had been reported at the time. Sixteen persons reported being raped by Savile under the age of 16, and four of those were under the age of ten. Thirteen others reported serious sexual abuse by Savile, including four under-ten-year-olds. Another ten reported being raped by Savile while over the age of sixteen.
Crown Prosecution Service
On 24 October 2012, the Crown Prosecution Service said the Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer, would review the service's decisions not to prosecute Savile in 2009, in relation to four claims against him for sexual abuse dating back to the 1970s. The report, prepared by the principal legal advisor to the DPP, Alison Levitt QC, was published on 11 January 2013. It found that, if police and prosecutors had taken a different approach towards the allegations, prosecutions could have been possible in relation to three of the claims. Keir Starmer apologised for the shortcomings of the CPS and criticised two police forces for taking an "unjustifiably cautious" approach.
In November 2013, shortly after he left the position of Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer called for mandatory reporting which would compel all professionals such as teachers, doctors and social workers to report suspicions of child abuse or face legal consequences in the light of the scandal.
HMIC assessment of police investigations
The Home Secretary, Theresa May, announced on 6 November 2012 that Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary would also carry out an assessment of all the investigations relating to Savile undertaken by police forces across the country, examine whether allegations were properly investigated, and identify any related issues.
On 12 March 2013, a report entitled "Mistakes were made: HMIC's review into allegations and intelligence material concerning Jimmy Savile between 1964 and 2012" was published, which included material showing that police had received intelligence about Savile's sexual conduct dating back to 1964.
Investigations in Jersey
On 7 November 2012 it was announced that an inquiry would also be undertaken, by a senior legal figure from outside the island, into allegations that Savile had abused children at Haut de la Garenne in Jersey.
West Yorkshire Police report
On 10 May 2013, West Yorkshire Police published a report into the relationship of the force with Savile. It concluded that he had not been protected from arrest or prosecution, but that there had been an "over-reliance on personal friendships" between Savile and some officers. The report states that there are "currently 76 crimes involving 68 victims committed in the West Yorkshire area relating to Savile", but none of them were reported to the police before his death. Nine of the incidents relate to persons under the age of nine, the youngest being aged five. A copy of the report was to be passed to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.
BBC comments and investigations
Newspaper reports claimed Douglas Muggeridge, controller of Radio 1 in the early 1970s, was aware of allegations against Savile, and asked for a report in 1973. Derek Chinnery, controller of Radio 1 from 1978 to 1985, recalled an occasion when he confronted Savile, saying "I asked, 'what's all this, these rumours we hear about you Jimmy?' And he said, 'that's all nonsense'. There was no reason to disbelieve." Michael Grade told Channel 4 News that during his time at the BBC he had "fleetingly" heard rumours about Savile, but described claims of a cover-up as "ludicrous". The BBC said no evidence of allegations of misconduct or actual misconduct by Savile had been found in its files and denied there had been a cover-up of his activities.
On 8 October, the Director-General of the BBC, George Entwistle, apologised for what had happened and said further internal investigations would take place. The chairman of the BBC Trust, Lord Patten, said the investigation would be set up as soon as police enquiries had been completed, and would be chaired by a figure from outside the BBC. As a result of the shelving of the Newsnight investigation into Savile's activities (see above), there were complaints on Newswatch. On 11 October 2012, the Director-General asked BBC Scotland director Ken MacQuarrie to look into staff concerns over the dropping of the item. He announced a review of BBC policy on child protection, and an enquiry into its culture and practices, focusing on the years Savile worked there.
The BBC was criticised in parliament for its handling of the affair. Harriet Harman said the allegations "cast a stain" on the corporation. Culture Secretary, Maria Miller, said she was satisfied the BBC was taking the allegations very seriously, and dismissed calls for an independent inquiry. Labour leader Ed Miliband said an independent inquiry was the only way to ensure justice for those involved. George Entwistle offered to appear before the parliamentary Culture, Media and Sport Committee to explain the BBC's position and actions.
On 16 October the BBC appointed heads of two inquiries into events surrounding Savile. Former High Court judge Dame Janet Smith, who led the inquiry into serial killer Harold Shipman, was to review the culture and practices of the BBC during the time Savile worked there, and Nick Pollard, a former Sky News executive, would look at why a Newsnight investigation into Savile's activities was dropped shortly before transmission.
A Panorama investigation was broadcast on 22 October 2012. George Entwistle declined to be interviewed, citing legal advice that BBC senior management should co-operate only with the police, the BBC's reviews and Parliament. On 21 October it was reported that the producer responsible for the dropped Newsnight report, Meirion Jones, had warned the programme's editor, Peter Rippon, in December 2011 that the BBC risked being accused of a cover-up if the item was dropped. On 22 October the BBC announced Rippon would "step aside" from his role of editor with immediate effect. On the day after the Panorama broadcast, Entwistle appeared before the Parliamentary Culture, Media and Sport Committee, at which he faced hostile questioning and stated that it had been a "catastrophic mistake" to cancel the Newsnight broadcast.
"The expression which I came to associate with Savile's sex partners was ... the now politically incorrect 'under-age subnormals'. He targeted the institutionalised, the hospitalised – and this was known. Why did Jimmy Savile go to hospitals? That's where the patients were."
Gambaccini claimed that Savile bribed the police. Sir Roger Jones, former chairman of Children in Need, the BBC's annual charity fundraising event to support disadvantaged children and young people, said Savile had been barred from involvement because of rumours about an inappropriate interest in young girls. Savile had appeared on the telethon in 1984, 1987 and 1989 before Jones became chairman.
The report by Nick Pollard into the BBC's handling of the affair was published on 19 December 2012. It concluded that the decision to drop the original Newsnight report on the allegations against Savile in December 2011 was "flawed", but that it had not been done to protect the Savile tribute programmes. However, it criticised George Entwistle for apparently failing to read emails warning him of Savile's "dark side", and that, after the allegations against Savile eventually became public, the BBC fell into a "level of chaos and confusion [that] was even greater than was apparent at the time". The BBC announced that Newsnight editor Peter Rippon and deputy editor Liz Gibbons would be replaced. Transcripts of evidence to the Pollard inquiry, together with emails and other submissions, were published on 22 February 2013.
Dame Janet Smith review
In November 2012, Dame Janet Smith called for evidence, from people who were the subject of inappropriate sexual conduct by Savile on BBC premises, or on location for the BBC; people who knew of or suspected such conduct; anyone who raised concerns about Savile's conduct within the BBC; people who worked for or with Savile on programmes at the BBC between about 1964 and 2007, or who were familiar with "the culture or practices of the BBC during that time insofar as they may have been relevant to preventing or enabling the sexual abuse of children, young people or teenagers"; and people who held senior positions at the BBC who may have relevant information. By 5 December 2012, the review's team had been contacted by "over 290" individuals, including many former or current BBC employees.
In January 2014 it was claimed in The Observer that Smith's review had concluded Savile had abused "many hundreds and potentially up to 1,000 people" on BBC premises, according to a source connected with the investigation. However, this Observer report was immediately denounced by the Damet Janet Smith Review as "speculative and unreliable". As a consequence of a request from the CPS and Lancashire Police, Smith will not report until the summer of 2014 in case it should prejudice the forthcoming second trial of ex-BBC presenter Stuart Hall.
Department of Health investigations
The Department of Health announced that former barrister Kate Lampard would chair the department's investigations into Savile's activities at Stoke Mandeville Hospital, Leeds General Infirmary, Broadmoor Hospital and other hospitals and facilities in England.
As of November 2013, the list of hospitals now being investigated includes:
- Barnet General Hospital
- Broadmoor Hospital
- Booth Hall Children's Hospital
- Cardiff Royal Infirmary
- De La Pole Hospital
- Dewsbury Hospital
- Dryburn Hospital
- Exeter Hospital
- Great Ormond Street Hospital
- Hammersmith Hospital
- High Royds Psychiatric Hospital
- Leavesden Secure Mental Hospital
- Leeds General Infirmary
- Marsden Hospital
- Maudsley Hospital
- Moss Side Hospital (formerly part of Ashworth Hospital)
- North Manchester General Hospital
- Odstock Hospital
- Pinderfields Hospital
- Portsmouth Hospital
- Prestwich Psychiatric Hospital, Prestwich
- Queen Mary's Hospital, Carshalton
- Queen Victoria Hospital, East Grinstead
- Rampton Hospital
- Royal Free Hospital, London
- Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle
- Saxondale Hospital
- Seacroft Hospital, Leeds
- St Catherine's Hospital Birkenhead
- Stoke Mandeville Hospital
- Whitby Memorial Hospital, Whitby
- Wythenshawe Hospital
Call for single inquiry
On 8 November 2012 the Shadow Home Secretary, Yvette Cooper, called in Parliament for a single, overarching public inquiry to examine all recent allegations of child abuse, including those relating to the North Wales child abuse scandal and those related to Savile. This was supported by former minister Tim Loughton and the NSPCC.
Savile's family asked "out of respect to public opinion" that his gravestone be taken from the cemetery where his body is buried. Scarborough Borough Council and funeral directors removed it "under cover of night" and sent it to landfill.
A café at Stoke Mandeville Hospital, "Jimmy's", which displayed a neon sign in the shape of Savile's signature, is to be renamed. Cunard cancelled a sail-past tribute to Savile's burial place at Scarborough, scheduled for 15:00 BST on 1 August 2013. The University of Bedfordshire stripped Savile of the honorary degree it had awarded him in 2009. Savile's name was removed from the Great North Run Hall of Fame.
On 23 October 2012 two registered charities, the Jimmy Savile Charitable Trust and the Jimmy Savile Stoke Mandeville Hospital Trust, set up to "provide funds for the relief of poverty and sickness and other charitable purposes beneficial to the community", announced they would close and have their funds redistributed to other charities.
It was reported on 28 October 2012 that Savile's cottage in Glen Coe had been spray-painted with slogans and the door damaged. The cottage had been searched by police looking for evidence of others involved with him in abuse. Plans to sell the cottage early in 2012 were halted by Savile's charitable trust, which had planned to turn it into a respite centre for the disabled. These plans were in turn halted when the trust announced it would close. The cottage was sold at auction on 30 May 2013.
On 2 November it was reported that letters had been sent to Savile's estate, the BBC, Stoke Mandeville Hospital, Broadmoor, and Leeds General Infirmary by solicitors acting on behalf of 20 clients who claimed to have been abused by Savile, and that legal action against them was being considered.
On 20 January 2013, the BBC apologised after it screened an episode of Tweenies, recorded in 2001, which featured a character called Max presenting a parody of Top of The Pops, dressed up and with a hairstyle like Savile, and also using some of his catchphrases.
- BBC sexual abuse cases
- BBC controversies
- Criticism of the BBC
- Institutional abuse
- North Wales child abuse scandal
- Elm Guest House child abuse scandal
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