“Abusers often are most credible and charming people that you could meet. They’re often very hard working. They often hold positions within authority, within society of some standing...He had friends in the very highest echelons of society .”
Peter Saunders Chief Executive, National Association for People Abused in Childhood
From the NHS to the BBC, Savile was able to use institutions to secure him victims. His membership of Mensa – the high IQ society – showed his intelligence. And he used his natural cunning to manipulate and influence everyone around him with either promises of rewards - or retribution.
When a psychiatric nurse at Broadmoor reported patients’ allegations of abuse, police and senior medical staff dismissed her concerns. Instead she was reprimanded and her job threatened.
In 1994 two former pupils of Duncroft approached the Sunday Mirror newspaper. The women alleged abuse. But however desperate they were to expose his hypocrisy, the cost, not least emotional, of the inevitable libel trial was too much. They did not proceed:
“The second woman...said, and I’ll never forget this because I think it reflects the theme that we now know was common around Savile’s victims, she said ‘Who’s going to believe me? An ex approved school girl against Jimmy Savile, with all his fame, all his money and being a houseguest of Margaret Thatcher at Number Ten and Chequers.’
Paul Connew, Former Editor, ‘Sunday Mirror’
For those not directly within his sphere of influence, he played on what damage might be done to his charity work. Savile threatened the tabloids and other investigators that any expose would mean they were responsible for ending his charitable fundraising.
In 2009 allegations of abuse again at Duncroft School finally forced the Police into action.
Savile was interviewed under caution at his office at Stoke Mandeville hospital:
“When the police are investigating somebody about a serious crime...the suspect would generally surely always be taken to a police station where they would be interviewed under caution. So that made it unusual immediately and again probably emphasised that the person in control of that interview was Jimmy Savile. It was not the police.”
Peter Saunders, Chief Executive, National Association for People Abused in Childhood
“... the transcript of his interview with Surrey Police...The tone of the interview is one of almost, ‘I’m sorry I’ve got to ask you this again but we’ve had these allegations made to us’, which is not really a very confident way of putting an allegation to get a structured response.”
Tony Butler, Former Chief Constable, Gloucestershire Police
During the interview Savile intimates that it will be the officers who will find themselves in court facing an expensive defamation case if they weren’t very, very careful.
Due to a lack of evidence, Savile was not pursued. Savile lived for 84 years and never once faced justice.
But even in death, it seemed the true Savile story could not be told:
“In mid-December 2011 I got a call from a BBC contact of mine who told me that there were various people working at the BBC who were unhappy about the fact that a Newsnight investigation into Savile had been axed in what were described to me as mysterious circumstances. So I did some digging over a period of about a week and I discovered that indeed there had been a BBC Newsnight investigation into Savile and it had been axed. It was made clear to me that several witnesses, middle aged women, had come forward and some of them had spoken on the record about abuse that they had suffered at the hands of Savile on BBC premises. So I put this to the BBC press office about three or four days before Christmas 2011. It took them twenty-four hours but they did confirm that they had conducted this investigation. They told me it had been dropped for editorial reasons. I therefore had confirmation that the investigation had taken place, I knew what its contents were and I tried to sell that story to seven national newspapers over the next two weeks.”
Miles Goslett, Journalist
But despite now having the evidence, none of the newspapers would touch the story so Goslett tried another route:
“...there was one person who not only might have had some knowledge of Savile as an individual but who was sure to run the story because he has a reputation as a mischief maker...Richard Ingrams, the Editor of The Oldie magazine; he’d previously edited Private Eye for about twenty-five years. I rang Richard Ingrams and within thirty seconds he said that he wanted to take the story and he did indeed publish the allegations in full in the February 2012 issue of The Oldie. The Oldie article was the first occasion when any of the allegations against Savile were published in full.”
On 3 October 2012, ITV broadcast ‘Exposure – The Other Side of Jimmy Savile.’
The next day, every newspaper carried the story.
And that same day, the Metropolitan Police launched Operation Yewtree. Over 450 people have come forward alleging Savile abused them. Most were under eighteen when he abused them.
For these victims there is some modicum of justice.In October 2012, an independent review was undertaken of the culture and practices of the BBC during the years that Jimmy Savile worked there.
Over 50 health and education institutions were also put under investigation over their links with Savile.