Judging Jimmy Savile

OK, I know due legal process and all that is important. Innocent until proven guilty and all that.

But sometimes you don’t have to wait until the police and legal systems have done their stuff to have a firm view.

And when you look at all the evidence the media has been reporting, it’s pretty clear he’s guilty, isn’t it?

It’s even become a standing joke that you just have to look at him to know he’s just the sort of person who would commit those crimes. Perhaps like me you heard the jokes on the last episode of the News Quiz and like the studio audience laughed along with them.

I mean, just look at him. He’s obviously guilty isn’t he?

So I’ve no doubt when the investigations conclude, we’ll know for sure that Chris Jefferies was guilty.

Oh, hang on…

 

(Yes, I do think Jimmy Savile was almost certainly guilty of horrendous crimes. But all that stuff about how you just have to look at him to know that? Count me out.)

 

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

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32 Comments

  • Tracy Connell 2nd Nov '12 - 8:13am

    Not sure I see the point of this article. I haven’t heard anyone say that you just have to look at Savile to know what he was up to. In fact I think people, even now, find the whole thing hard to believe. I know it’s messing with my head. I do hate to see pics of him now, because I am sure beyond doubt that he is guilty due to all the evidence.

    I think a better way to put your point would be the issue over someone like Freddie Starr, who has been implicated, but who could very well be innocent. There may be people who say that he looks dodgy. I don’t think so and will live in hope that he is innocent. But to use Savile for your point about people jumping to conclusions saying a person looks like they’d get up to those sorts of crimes is a bad example. I think many have been shocked by the whole thing and can’t believe it has been kept quiet for so long.

  • Brenda Lana Smith R. af D. 2nd Nov '12 - 8:20am

    Well put Tracy Connell… kudos to you…

  • Andrew Suffield 2nd Nov '12 - 8:33am

    Yes, I’ve been rather uncomfortable with the way this has been playing out. There’s a twist to these things: once the story is “out”, a lot of people suddenly remember “evidence” from many years ago that makes things look bad, and forget things that would tend to exonerate. There’s probably some who were “afraid they would not be believed” – but a whole lot more who had a hazy memory which got filled in after hearing the media reports. The mind is strange this way: those people will be completely convinced that their memory is accurate. Without external evidence, there is no way to tell which details of your own years-old memories are accurate and which bits your mind filled in to cover the gaps.

    It seems likely that at least one of the accusations against Savile is true. It seems implausible that all of the hundreds of accusations could be true. I don’t envy the people whose job it is to sort out which ones actually happened – and after this long,it might not be possible. Criminal? Probably. Cold-blooded serial abuser over a period of decades? Maybe. We don’t know yet. We might never be sure. But the media has already decided, and that’s bad for us as a society.

  • Andrew Suffield 2nd Nov '12 - 8:35am

    What evidence ?

    There was a recent documentary which covered some actual evidence in a handful of cases. Not exactly up to the standards of a court, but fairly compelling.

    Just in a handful of cases though. The rest of it is less clear right now.

  • One thing to bear in mind:
    “The £4.3m estate of disgraced TV star Jimmy Savile has been frozen in response to mounting allegations he sexually assaulted scores of children. …
    the latest freeze relates to expected legal claims for damages from adults who claim Savile sexually abused them as children.
    Savile’s will executor and trustee NatWest bank confirmed the move in a statement, saying: “Given the claims raised, distribution of the estate has been put on hold.” …
    … Emma Jones, a solicitor at Leigh Day and Co who specialises in abuse claims, told the FT Savile’s own estate would be a more immediate target, especially given his wealth. …
    Ms Jones said damage payments in such cases could typically run from £2,000 to £20,000 but could be much more in individual cases …”

    http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/f389a094-2387-11e2-bb86-00144feabdc0.html#axzz2B3LrS1nA

  • Tracy Connell 2nd Nov '12 - 9:26am

    But these remarks I guess were made after all the revelations came out? Yes if you look at him now maybe you see a creepy old man because of all the allegations.

    I think it unfair to compare this with a possible racist remark. Ok it is wrong to judge someone on what they look like, but when you have heard the allegations etc then see pics of him what is your reaction? He’s a horrible man who did bad things? You don’t think he’s a lovable character. It’s an awful thing and perhaps people should not make jokes about him – but I think it’s inevitable that they will.

    @Simon Did you see the documentary? Have you seen one of his own relatives has accused him. There is video and audio evidence – a youtube video of him groping a 14 year old girl on TV for goodness sake, testimonies from people who worked with him. I guess it would be difficult to get forensic evidence now, but what more evidence do you want?

  • There’s a huge difference between Jimmy Saville and Chris Jefferies. or Freddie star for that matter.

    jimmy Saville is dead and so won’t be going to court. the only concern is if jimmy saville is made out to be a monster and relationships with him are mentioned in court (e.g.. Freddie star). I don’t know if this is contempt of court legally but it definitely seems like it could influence a jury.

    if this is what you meant I think your post would have been improved by making the point explicitly.

  • judging is one thing, prejudging the hindsight of others is something quite different. The former requires facts, the latter requires hearsay and conjecture.

    As it happens (there’s no escape from the influence of the man) I once almost met Jimmy Savile when I was in the audience of Jim’ll Fix It. I didn’t because even as an innocent kid I instinctively knew there was something wrong with the way he acted, and I ran in the opposite direction.

    But behind all the horror stories are reasons for how and why. What’s surprised me is that the supreme Louis Theroux has stayed reticent – he probably got closer to understanding the man inside the monster than anyone, and it’s highly likely that he has some powerful insights to offer.

    For my own part the truly shocking thing is the scale of child abuse
    https://www.libdemvoice.org/opiinion-the-savile-row-why-paedophile-scandals-continue-to-haunt-society-31193.html

  • How he got away with his behaviour, is what we need to know. I am not clear whether he might be classified as a paedophile or not, or that he was a sexual predator who targeted the most vulnerable, but it does seem likely that celebrity culture seems to empower people to behave in ways that would normally be characterised as totally unacceptable.

    I do hope the BBC learns from this and has the strength to walk away from ‘star performers’ who arrogantly behave badly with others and throw their weight around.

    The recent protestation from Max Clifford that celebrities “didn’t ask for birth certificates” seems to admit to a behaviour in celebrity culture that was exploitative, and may still be so.

  • Geoffrey Payne 2nd Nov '12 - 12:48pm

    I think that the case of Christopher Jeffries is another example of how the “free” press can take away your civil liberties. Just because of the way he looks they can publicly vilify him even though he is innocent of the allegations made against him.
    It was not the state that did this – it was the newspapers looking to improve their sales which they know they can do when they start a campaign of hatred like this. In other words, this was part of the private sector that is taking away his liberties.
    The only way to stop them is to improve the regulation of the press and maybe tighten up the laws. I do not have any specific proposals for doing this – lets wait for Leveson to report back.

  • Completely agree Geoff, this after death trial by media of Jimmy Savile is symptomatic of its ad hoc adherence to the basic right to be considered innocent until proven guilty in a range of cases; I do hope Leveson takes action to stamp it out.

  • Simon Titley 2nd Nov '12 - 9:29pm

    Well said, Mark.

    Thank god no-one’s mentioned the slip on BBC Radio Ulster:
    http://panicdots.com/2012/10/bbc-radio-ulster-read-out-jimmy-savile-joke-live-on-air-by-mistake/

  • Helen Dudden 3rd Nov '12 - 9:47am

    If this is true and it was covered up by those who should have known better. I think that it is not over yet, we are told there area a few more shocks in store.

    Society most certainly needs a clean up, until you are uncovered you get away with things. This refers to many issues that have been brought to light very recently.

  • In a case like this the evidence is inevitably accumulative rather than forensic. I don’t like the ” well just look at him ” aspect of the media coverage, but when you see clips of his actual behaviour towards girls on his shows it does make for very uncomfortable viewing..
    The other thing is the rumours were long standing. Years ago, when I was a student, I did temp work with a young sikh chap who claimed that his partner/ girlfriend was a nurse at one of the hospitals Savile visited and him telling me that “Savile was a pervert and everyone who worked with him knew it”.

  • Much of it has been said very well above especially by Andrew Suffield. Infact I couldn’t put it better than Andrew puts it. We really have to be very careful in how we deal with these allegations. Yes some may be true but by no means all. If Savile had been alive and charges had been brought we would have heard evidence from both sides in a court of law. This free for all because someone is dead is scary and sets a dangerous precedent. I am convinced there will be lots of compensation claims against the BBC in particular with people coming out of the wood work claiming this and that about different people. We will never probably know 100pc whether any of it is true. Yes you need to treat allegations seriously but we shouldn’t convict living without real proof nor vilify the dead without proper evidence either. To do so would be to take up back to medieval times. Actually I’m not sure we are far off!!

    Today’s revelations about Leonard Rossister are unsubstantiated and I’m not going to stop watching his programmes simply because of allegations.

    Tbh the whole mess makes me terribly sad. If there is a deeper rooted problem then it’s not just about the perpretrators, it’s also about our society down the years and how we relate to each other around sex, power, gender etc

    That proper assessment can’t happen in a culture of frenzy and hyperbole

    One final thought, we can’t rule out an agenda either. The focus has been very much on the BBC. There are others who have questions to answer and none more so than THE POLICE. Interesting that the Media has so far failed to really turn its attention to them – and that the BBC is taking all the crap. Mmmmmmmmm

  • “Today’s revelations about Leonard Rossister are unsubstantiated …”

    And pretty unconvincing, given that the alleged victim of the alleged rape (not allegedly committed by Rossiter) claims that he complained to a BBC official about it but didn’t say a word to the police.

    Whatever next? “I saw Fanny Cradock with the Devil”?

  • I’ve been appalled by the number of times I’ve heard people say that you only had to look at him. The bleeding obvious seems to have escaped their reasoning – that there are plenty of eccentric people who are law abiding citizens and there are plenty of sex offenders who appear socially normal. There’s nothing like a good witch hunt – why bother looking for and questioning the actual evidence?

    The really bizarre thing is that anything leftie/liberal/government seems to be coming under attack, whether it’s the sexual liberation of the ’60s, the BBC (I’m not sure why people think of it as being a leftie organisation – it just shows how a large section of the right wing in this country seems to have turned into foaming at the mouth loons), the NHS, councils, etc. All this despite the overwhelming evidence that Savile sucked up to conservative authority in the church and state to cover his tracks – he was a good friend of that well known marxist, Thatcher.

  • Tony Dawson 4th Nov '12 - 11:40am

    As far as I am aware, you cannot try someone who is dead. So, the most useful thing which may come out of this Saville affair is that a whole load of other victims of molestation by ‘prominent (sic) persons’ who are still alive but who have felt under pressure to ‘keep shtum’ because of possible feelings of lack of plausibility may feel liberated to bring forward their tales.

  • “So, the most useful thing which may come out of this Saville affair is that a whole load of other victims of molestation by ‘prominent (sic) persons’ who are still alive but who have felt under pressure to ‘keep shtum’ because of possible feelings of lack of plausibility may feel liberated to bring forward their tales.”

    And the worst thing that may come out of it is that a whole load of other people pretending to be victims of molestation by ‘prominent (sic) persons’ who are also dead and who claim they have felt under pressure to ‘keep shtum’ because of possible feelings of lack of plausibility may feel liberated to bring invent similar tales.

  • Old Codger Chris 4th Nov '12 - 1:12pm

    Perhaps Savile would have been exposed in his lifetime if it hadn’t been for the gagging (aka libel) laws. Press reform resulting from Leveson should go hand-in-hand with freeing up the media to lift the lid on certain powerful and wealthy people.

  • Matthew Huntbach 5th Nov '12 - 12:11am

    Steve

    All this despite the overwhelming evidence that Savile sucked up to conservative authority in the church and state to cover his tracks

    But did he do this in order to cover his tracks? The evidence seems to suggest that he was pretty open about what he was doing. It would be neater for us to pigeonhole Savile into a “purely evil” category, so that the charitable work he did was just a cover-up of his real aims, but that seems to me to be far too simplistic. I have not yet heard any evidence that Savile understood what he was doing to be extremely damaging to his victims. Rather his fame and wealth seem to have given him opportunities, which at least early in his career he boasted about and at that time it was not thought particularly wrong. It’s hard to imagine how it persisted when sexual abuse of the young hit the media and a much better understanding of how damaging it can be developed, but by then he didn’t seem to have much contact with reality.

    It seems to me that it actually is the case, though it challenges us, that the charitable Savile and the abusive Savile were the same person, that he did not put a mental divide himself between the two.

    The danger is that if we persist with the idea that the paedophile is a purely evil person we may miss seeing it in people who do not appear and perhaps really are not purely evil. This case also gives us a better idea of how offenders can carry on getting away with it. The impression has been given with cases up till now that any normal person who had an inkling of it would instantly call in the police and lead to a prosecution, therefore all those indirectly involved in the sense of having some knowledge about what was going on are almost as bad as the paedophiles themselves for “covering it up”. The sheer number of people involved with Savile over the years who let him get away with what it was obvious he was doing (at least from what we are being told now – I do bear in mind the “innocent until proven guilty” principle) but did nothing makes that line difficult to defend.

  • @Matthew Huntbach
    I don’t think Savile was open about what he was doing and I haven’t seen any evidence yet that suggests he was a paedophile (interest in pre-pubescent boys/girls) despite the mainstream media’s widespread proclamations of the allegation. However, he does seem to have been a serial rapist, forcing himself on post-pubescent women below the age of consent and vulnerable women above it. He may well have boasted about his ‘conquests’ and under-age sex may well have been viewed differently in the ’70s, but the fundamental point about his alleged crimes is that they were rape and as far as I know he never publicly admitted to forcing himself upon women. So, I don’t agree he was ever open.

    It is the current consensual position of psychologists that extremes of behaviour typified by a complete lack of empathy exist amongst a small percentage of the population (5%-10%). Such personality disorders are characterised by inflexibile defence mechanisms, an inability to feel guilt and an inability to respond differently to treatment or punishment. At the risk of playing amateur shrink and coming up with a ‘diagnosis’ for Savile, I do find it quite conceivable that he did have a personality disorder and that he was incapable of empathy. I find it perfectly plausible that he was nothing more than a sadist that enjoyed humiliating young, vulnerable women and enjoyed creating the web of deception to cover himself (the attention seeking and manipulation fit very well with narcissism and are repeated by many other abusers from the office bully to child-abusers). It does appear that there are some people that are defined by simple rigid behaviours and I find it difficult to believe that Savile’s charity work was motivated by altruism given that he allegedly raped some of the patients of Stoke Mandeville and other institutions he raised money for.

  • Mathew your post is as always considered and thoughtful,
    But Savile’s case looks to me more like it involves some level of institutional abuse. It’s true that he seemed divorced from the reality of what he was doing. However, he was given rooms in hospitals and children’s homes and the keys to Broadmoor. Further more the BBC claims that they knew nothing at the time, whilst banning him from involvement with Children In Need,. The police in fact did receive complaints as did some of the institutions involved, yet nothing was followed through. Sevile was also implicated in the Jersey case.
    Personally, I don’t buy into the idea that the 70s and 80s were the dark ages. Sure some of the attitudes were different. But there were prosecutions in that era… The idea that Savile was the product of his age also ignores the reality that he was not a youngster in the sixties or seventies and courted the powerful and connected rather than the counter culture..
    I also think examining whether or not Savile left a money trail would be worth looking at. He raised nearly 40 million for charities and accrued substantial personal wealth. Certainly enough to contribute to various organisations and individuals in less clear cut ways than simply donating to charity.

  • It’s a bit of a strech to say he was a paedophile and ignore his role in developing TV and radio programmes, or charity drives, which brought him directly into contact with his prey.

    If we assume his guilt we must say this was no accident, he deliberately set out to hunt potential victims and designed his method accordingly – he knew what he was doing when he drove up and down the country in a caravan, or set out to visit a school or home in his Rolls Royce.

    Beyond that, the case says so much about the culture of the time (ie what turned him into a monster and how he avoided and evaded justice for so long) that it is already a cultural landmark of the most grotesque kind. Hopefully it will signfy a turning point for the better too.

    It is also impossible to ignore the parallels between celebrity behaviour and the scandals in intelligence gathering, media phone-tapping, police bribes, politicians expenses, tax avoidance and evasion, pension and insurance mis-selling, bank interest rate fixing, legal superinjunstions, match-rigging and doping in sport etc.

    Add it all up and there is a clearly discernable pattern of establishment corruption, whether or not it was institutionalised it demonstrates again how sections of society believe normal rules don’t apply to them.

    Equal before the law? Not previously.

  • Matthew Huntbach 5th Nov '12 - 3:39pm

    Steve

    I don’t think Savile was open about what he was doing and I haven’t seen any evidence yet that suggests he was a paedophile (interest in pre-pubescent boys/girls) despite the mainstream media’s widespread proclamations of the allegation.

    Yes, I avoided making this point because it can easily be misinterpreted as suggesting abuse is acceptable if it’s with young teenagers rather than with pre-pubescent children.

    I’m thinking of reports like Savile looking down on a room full of partying teenagers and saying “Yes, I’ve shafted half of them”. I’m old enough to remember when what we might now – correctly – call abuse, was seen as “liberating”, with objections to it dismissed as “prudery”. From what’s been reported about remarks he made, yes, I agree Savile seemed to be very much lacking in empathy, but I suspect he managed to convince himself that his victims had somehow consented even when the reality was that they were petrified. Again, I do look back to how it was when being able to say “Yes” without being married was thought so liberating that it was forgotten that the right to say “No” was also absolutely necessary.

    Again it’s hard to say for danger of being misinterpreted, but there is a shady line here, more so back then when “No means no” had not properly been developed. So young teenagers might have thought they were being “liberated” by being coerced into sex, or thought it “prudish and old fashioned” to object – and only now it’s all been brought up again realise that yes they were nastily abused.

  • Matthew Huntbach 5th Nov '12 - 3:51pm

    Glenn

    But Savile’s case looks to me more like it involves some level of institutional abuse. It’s true that he seemed divorced from the reality of what he was doing. However, he was given rooms in hospitals and children’s homes and the keys to Broadmoor. Further more the BBC claims that they knew nothing at the time, whilst banning him from involvement with Children In Need,. The police in fact did receive complaints as did some of the institutions involved, yet nothing was followed through.

    Yes, that’s what I’m saying. It’s remarkable that this carried on happening even after abuse scandals elsewhere ought to have ended the old defence of naivety or lack of realisation about how serious such abuse is. Up till now we’ve been able to dismiss institutional protection of abusers as something that happened only in rather creepy organisations like the Catholic Church and suggested it was due to there being something fundamentally wrong with those organisations and the people in them. It’s rather harder to hold this line when one sees the great variety of organisations and people Savile was involved with.

  • Matthew Huntbach 6th Nov '12 - 1:57pm

    Steve

    I find it difficult to believe that Savile’s charity work was motivated by altruism given that he allegedly raped some of the patients of Stoke Mandeville and other institutions he raised money for.

    The stories we’ve heard so far are of Savile pulling off if actively resisted rather than carrying on and taking pleasure in obvious hurt. Of course we know in abuse cases like this, the victim often does feel trapped and unable to resist, particularly when the perpetrator is a person in a senior position. I think (from what we have been told, it’s hard to suggest otherwise that it;s all been made up though I accept the “innocent until proven guilty” principle) the diagnosis of Savile lacking empathy is correct, and therefore he would, like many abusers, believe that because he was enjoying it so must his victims as they weren’t actually fighting him off. It does go along with the naive mentality just after the sexual revolution of the 1960s, that resistance to sexuality was a sort of “frigidity” which should be opposed.

    As an example of different attitudes, I quote from the Wiki synopsis of the Rocky Horror Show, first produced in 1973:

    Janet enjoys Brad’s advances in her darkened bedroom before realizing that it is in fact Frank in disguise. He convinces Janet that pleasure is no crime, and after she asks him to promise not to tell Brad, they resume their lovemaking. The scene changes to Brad’s darkened bedroom, where Brad makes love to Janet before discovering that, once again, it is Frank in disguise.

    Is this not an account of someone being raped and then being convinced that they ought to enjoy it?

    I don’t see Savile’s charitable actions as entirely false. In fact it’s not unusual for people who lack empathy to have a rather mechanical way of wanting to be good to others, expressed through physical and financial actions. Many cruel people have been big charitable donors.

  • It’s pretty obvious to me that Jimmy Savile was innocent

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