Allegations of sexual abuse levelled against the late DJ and TV presenter Sir Jimmy Savile are to be assessed by Britain’s Metropolitan Police (the Met).
However, the force say that it’s not an investigation at this stage, merely an assessment.
Meanwhile, a friend of Savile has described the abuse allegations as unbelievable and not in keeping with the man she knew.
The allegations by five women – who have claimed in an ITV documentary that Savile sexually assaulted them as teenagers – will be looked at by the Met’s Child Abuse Investigation Command.
Digital Journal’s Steve Hayes reported on September 30 that ITV would show its documentary, Exposure: The Other Side of Sir Jimmy Savile, on Wednesday of this week.
Hayes quoted one of the women concerned, who had told ITV News: “As a mature woman now, I look back and I think I was actually raped on that first occasion because I definitely didn’t know we were going to have full sex and I definitely said to him, ‘You’re not going to go all the way.’
“So looking back I think, ‘Oh my God, he actually raped me.’”
The BBC News website today quotes a Met spokesman as saying: “Our priority will be to ensure a proportionate and consistent policing response putting the victims at the heart of our inquiries.
“It is too early to say how many individual allegations there are, and we will be making contact with all those concerned in due course.”
Most of Savile’s broadcasting work was with the BBC, which will be working with Scotland Yard – the Met’s HQ – during the assessment.
The BBC says: “This week it emerged that Surrey, Sussex and Jersey Police had received complaints about Sir Jimmy but concluded there was not enough evidence to pursue them.
“The Met is currently considering a number of allegations including a rape claim from some years ago referred to it by Surrey Police, while Northamptonshire Police have been contacted by two alleged victims.”
A spokesman for the Association of Chief Police Officers is quoted as saying: “Following an initial assessment of a number of allegations made against the late Sir Jimmy Savile, a decision has been made to appoint a lead force to manage the police and child protection response. The Metropolitan Police Service has been appointed as the lead force.”
Yesterday, the BBC was forced to defend itself against claims that its flagship evening news magazine Newsnight had been urged to drop an investigation into allegations of sexual assault by Savile, who died in October last year aged 84.
The corporation quotes its own David Jordan, director of editorial policy and standards, as saying that any interference from BBC management would only have made reporters “more determined to do it”.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I don’t think it’s credible […] to suggest that senior managers could influence the conduct of an investigation of that sort.”
Family outingA report in today’s Daily Telegraph says: “The claims put further pressure on the BBC to reveal whether it knew about the accusations at the time […]”
It quotes an unnamed school tutor, now in his 40s, as having told media that the TV star groped him after they had met during a family outing. “I’ve lived with this memory for years, but have always feared that saying something in public could damage my career.”
The Telegraph story says: “Audio recording from the [1960s] programme Savile’s Travels has emerged appearing to reveal him behaving inappropriately with a young girl.
“The girl, who is clearly distressed, is heard being made to promise the presenter that he is ‘the only one in my life’, but also telling him ‘get off me’ and ‘get off my backside’.”
However, says the paper, it isn’t clear whether the excerpt, which has been revealed by Channel 4 News, was ever broadcast.
Disabled police officers’ charity
A friend of Savile, Rosemary Craig of Northern Ireland, says the allegations against the presenter are unbelievable and not in keeping with the man she knew, according to the Belfast Telegraph.
“Jimmy was a great friend and helped with the disabled police officers’ charity,” says Craig, whose husband is a former officer in what was then the Royal Ulster Constabulary (now the Police Service of Northern Ireland) and who was severely injured after being shot by the IRA.
“He was the very first person to help me. At the time there was very little being done for disabled police officers.
“I wrote a letter to Jimmy Savile and he immediately responded. He sent me the money to fly over with a disabled officer and got him a new lightweight wheelchair. He put me on to Richard Branson, who brought a Virgin aeroplane into Northern Ireland and took 375 disabled officers, their helpers and families to Florida for a holiday. All down to Jimmy Savile.”
Savile was a veteran of charity work, notably for Stoke Mandeville Hospital, and his charity work earned him his knighthood in 1990, after he had been awarded an OBE nearly 20 years earlier. As well as raising money, he was a volunteer at Stoke Mandeville Hospital, Broadmoor Hospital and Leeds General Infirmary.