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article imageJimmy Savile: Labour demands independent inquiry

By Steve Hayes     Oct 16, 2012 in World
Ed Miliband, the Labour leader, has demanded the government set up an independent inquiry into the Savile scandal. Miliband said it was essential in order "to do right by the victims".
David Cameron, the British Prime Minister, is facing calls to establish an independent inquiry into the Savile scandal. Last night, Ed Miliband, the leader of the Opposition, told ITV it was not satisfactory that the BBC and the National Health Service (NHS) should simply conduct their own internal reviews. He said:
These are horrific allegations. In order to do right by the victims I don't think the BBC can lead their own inquiry.
We need a broad look at all the public institutions involved - the BBC, parts of the NHS and Broadmoor. This has got to be independent.
According to BBC News, Downing Street does not rule out an independent inquiry, but stated that the police investigation is the priority.
However, as the Express reports, the Secretary of State for Culture, Maria Miller, dismissed calls for an independent inquiry, saying she was "confident" that BBC managers were taking the allegations "very seriously". She claimed that an independent inquiry would be counter-productive, as it could hamper the police investigation. She said:
Everybody would agree that it is really important that those individuals who have been victims know that that investigation can go on unfettered and that that should be our priority at this stage.
The Labour Party is demanding a full inquiry into all aspects of the scandal with the power to summon documents and witnesses and hear evidence on oath. Miliband said:
I think we now have enough set of allegations and further allegations to know this is not some isolated set of incidents. This seems to be a pattern of activity which spanned a number of institutions. As I say, I just think about the victims in this. This is absolutely horrific and will scar people for life. And I think for them, the BBC - good institution though it is - I don't think they can lead their own inquiry.
Miliband's scepticism about the BBC's capacity to impartially investigate itself would appear to be supported by an email set to staff last night by the BBC Director of News, Helen Boaden, who said the corporation was confident the investigation into the Newsnight investigation had been dropped for "sound editorial reasons", strongly suggesting the conclusion of the inquiry is known in advance.
According to the Daily Mirror, Fabian Hamilton, a Member of Parliament for Leeds, Savile's home town, said the people of Leeds, who turned out in their thousands to pay tribute to Jimmy Savile when he died, felt "betrayed and angry".
An independent inquiry into the Savile scandal would be a substantial undertaking. The allegations spread from Scotland to Jersey. There are fifteen separate police forces involved, pursuing 340 separate lines of inquiry. The alleged sexual assaults involve the BBC, Broadmoor, the high security psychiatric hospital, Stoke Mandeville Hospital, Leeds General Infirmary, Duncroft Approved School and three children's homes. The allegations span several decades, and raise questions of the competence and even complicity of senior managers in the organisations concerned, as a Digital Journal opinion piece highlighted in a list of opportunities missed by the police. Indeed, the judgement of senior politicians would be brought into question.
An independent inquiry would inevitably be confronted with questions that challenge the institutional integrity of British society.
More about Jimmy Savile, Child sexual assault, Inquiry, Police, Scandal
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