Jimmy Savile: can we have the police crisis now, please?

The BBC is rightly in crisis over its handling of the Jimmy Savile case. But the mix of some journalists loving taking pot-shots at the BBC and the BBC’s own love of reporting itself (did you see the Newsnight piece on the Panorama episode about the Newsnight story?) means the BBC’s troubles has been over-shadowing the role of others.

The police, in particular.

One police force we now know investigate Jimmy Savile and their work at least got as far as serious consideration of whether or not there was enough evidence to go to court.

Yet even that was after decades of Savile’s career which, we now know, were littered with accusations and half-hearted enquiries by others. What was the police doing in all that time? When even a few journalists and work colleagues were asking him to his face about widespread rumours, did the police never have good enough grounds for an effective investigation? Perhaps not, or perhaps – as seems more likely given the huge volume of allegations now surfacing – the police messed up badly, repeatedly and for decades?

The latest news suggests the latter:

At least seven alleged victims of Jimmy Savile made complaints of sexual assault against him to police while the TV presenter was still alive, according to the Scotland Yard team investigating the abuse scandal.

The BBC once failing to run a story is one thing. The police seven times failing to investigate effectively would be a far bigger scandal. They need to be put just as firmly on the spot as the BBC’s management.

* Mark Pack is Party President and Co-leader of the party. He is editor of Liberal Democrat Newswire.

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13 Comments

  • Quite right Mark and this is not just limited to the Savile affair either

    When I was growing up I was at school with the son of one of the WM Serious Crime Squad’s most notorious DS and it was clear then that there was corruption going on.

    I am convinced that the police have allowed many crimes by so-called ‘celebrities’, politicians and their own to go without prosecution. I think this can of worms is enormous and will never be allowed to be opened.

    Remember that Savile had friends in high places!

    The BBC will be scapegoated for this as there are many in the media/politics who have an axe to grind. Unfortunately, I have to say this includes your Coalition partners and I fear the BBC will never be the same again. It started under Labour after Hutton and has continued apace under the auspices of the Tories.

    I only hope the LD can put a brake on it

  • I thought at least one case reached the CPS so don’t forget them…

    One of my biggest concerns of the Mitchell issue was the dual standards the “great and good” benefit from. All suspected crimes should be investigated in the same way irrespective of suspect. Mitchell should have been treated like a teenager in a hoodie in a city centre would have been, and Saville should have faced justice in his lifetime. If these allegations had been made about one of us mere mortals, it would have been an entirely different affair.

    There is a certain irony that journalists who “always suspected” now come out of the woodwork. Hardly a ringing endorsement for the quality of our free press……

  • We also need an investigation into his links with the Royals and the Thatcher government.

    It beggars belief that somebody so sinister could form friendships with the above without the police or security services having a quiet word

  • Until the police can be properly held to account by the media, there will be little improvement, though. Under the current libel law, the free press is a bit of an illusion – who knows how much corruption simply isn’t being written about. Exerting pressure for libel law reform could, I think, turn out to be one of the Lib Dems’ most important long-term contributions in government. But it has to be proper, effective reform, and we need to push as hard as possible for this as the Defamation Bill goes through. Simon Hughes seems to be doing good work here (see for example http://www.indexoncensorship.org/2012/10/libel-reform-politicians-must-deliver-on-promises/) but we’re in danger of passing up a chance to have a free press.

  • There’s a lot of stuff that needs to be investigated. The police, children’s homes, hospitals, financial transaction and Savile’s political links.
    It looks like some people were perhaps turning blind eyes , rather than were having the wool pulled over them

  • I assume that in the days when these complaints were originally made – there was no computer to link them up. The question would be whether technology and times have moved on. A lot of Lib Dems that oppose ID cards and central databases should be aware that these Jimmy Savile style crimes are facilitated by a lack of central cross referencing of information. I sense a lot of opportunism on the part of those attacking the BBC, but a lot of these attacks happened on BBC premises in connection with BBC programmes so there definitely are questions to be answered. I’m not comfortable with the idea that its the likes of Grant -false id-Shapps posing the questions, he surely has his own questions to answer.

  • paul barker 27th Oct '12 - 1:41pm

    The more fundamental problem is our culture where allegations against men by women or children are not taken seriously, at any level. Even when victims do get their “day in court” juries in general dont beleive them.

  • Paul McKeown 27th Oct '12 - 3:16pm

    One might also ask about the source for Tom Watson’s allegations in the chamber of the Commons. Naturally, I have no more information about this than anyone posting here, but it wouldn’t surprise me if the Peelers hadn’t dusted off one of their old files and passed it on, all in the cause of their fight with the Home Office concerning pay, conditions and staffing levels.

  • “The more fundamental problem is our culture where allegations against men by women or children are not taken seriously, at any level. Even when victims do get their “day in court” juries in general dont beleive them.”

    Paul – evidence for that? I once remember discussinng it witha Judge who was of the view their was a big differenence in the way Juries dealt with the two types of offences.

  • Paul McKeown,
    The subject of Tom Watson’s allegations during PMQs, Peter Righton, lectured at many colleges while attempting to normalise paedophile practises in a series of academic studies as part of the pro-paedophile activist group known as the Paedophile Information Exchange or PIE (operational from 1974-84) – including one notorious course on residential child care at Birmingham University which has been traced as a source introduction point for some of the worst abusers in recent history.

    From there Righton went on to become a childcare consultant for the National Children’s Bureau and then Director of Education at the prestigious National Institute of Social Work in London which had some direct influence over policy matters under the Thatcher government before he lost his reputation when he was convicted in 1992 on two lesser charges of importing and distributing illegal pornographic material (for which he was fined £900).

    PIE became affiliated with the National Council of Civil Liberties (now Liberty) in 1978 after the introduction of the Protection of Children Bill, arguing that “childhood sexual experiences, willingly engaged in, with an adult result in no identifiable damage”, and for legalisation of incest and child pornography. Peter Righton was among its most prominent academic supporters. NCCL excluded PIE in 1983, and Jimmy Savile is reputed to have been a fully paid-up member throughout this period.

    Whether or not PIE constituted a paedophile ring, it was a lobby group and the web of connections it drew between numerous subsequently convicted serious and serial abusers and political figures of the time – on all sides – indicate how far the problem had infiltrated the establishment (for Labour Party historians the PIE episode also marks a significant stage which culminated in the breakaway of the ‘Gang of Four’).

    Tom Watson’s allegations are not new, he was merely repeating widely known facts to displace any blame on Labour’s involvement with more ‘radical’ elements of the sexual liberation movement and implicate party opponents for political benefit. Reopening a previously closed Metropolitan Police inquiry would not cover the full scope of questions to be asked and could reduce the impact of conclusions, while any evidence should be used for a fuller report into Police practices. Essentially he was using politician-speak to call for a cover-up under the guise of a witch-hunt!

    The question from Labour’s deputy chairman was not designed to help victims achieve justice and should be viewed as highly cynical grandstanding.

  • Orangepan writes:
    “PIE became affiliated with the National Council of Civil Liberties (now Liberty) in 1978 after the introduction of the Protection of Children Bill, arguing that “childhood sexual experiences, willingly engaged in, with an adult result in no identifiable damage”, and for legalisation of incest and child pornography. Peter Righton was among its most prominent academic supporters. NCCL excluded PIE in 1983, and Jimmy Savile is reputed to have been a fully paid-up member throughout this period.”

    And it would appear that Labours own, Harriet Harman MP, had more ‘relaxed’ views about children and sex than she does now.
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/labour/4949555/Harriet-Harman-under-attack-over-bid-to-water-down-child-pornography-law.html#
    http://conservativehome.blogs.com/leftwatch/2010/03/harriet-harman-paedophilia-and-double-standards.html

  • Paul in Twickenham 27th Oct '12 - 11:05pm

    About ten years ago I went to a recording of a BBC radio 4 “comedy panel show” at Bush House. In an off-mic aside, one of the panellists (a household name) made reference to Jimmy Savile in the context of his abuse of young girls. The reference appeared to cause no surprise at all to any of the other panellists (also all household names) nor did they look like they disagreed with what was said.

    Now given that this was about ten years , I can only assume that this information has been widely known throughout that time. So why does it seem that the matter never got escalated beyond a clubby “you’re not doing this sort of thing, are you, old boy” to Savile by a BBC producer?

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