Jimmy Savile inquiry now a formal criminal investigation - police
The inquiry into alleged child abuse by the late Sir Jimmy Savile is now a formal criminal investigation involving other, living people, Scotland Yard has announced.
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Operation Yewtree has moved from an assessment to a criminal investigation after detectives established there are lines of inquiry involving “living people that require formal investigation”.
Scotland Yard said two weeks of gathering information has involved assessing more than 400 lines of inquiry and it has identified more than 200 potential victims.
The force said: “As we have said from the outset, our work was never going to take us into a police investigation into Jimmy Savile.
“What we have established in the last two weeks is that there are lines of inquiry involving living people that require formal investigation.”
Operation Yewtree, which was originally an “assessment” into claims against Savile, was launched after allegations flooded out in the wake of an ITV documentary screened earlier this month.
Yesterday, the NSPCC said it is possible the former Top of the Pops presenter was “one of the most prolific sex offenders” the child welfare charity has ever come across.
Claims have also emerged about fellow entertainers Freddie Starr, who has staunchly refuted the allegations, as well as sex offender and disgraced 1970s pop star Gary Glitter – real name Paul Gadd.
As well as police investigations, inquiries are taking place into his involvement with Stoke Mandeville Hospital, Broadmoor and Leeds General Infirmary.
Dame Janet Smith, who headed the Shipman Inquiry, has been appointed to head an inquiry into Savile’s time at the BBC, and yesterday Scotland Yard said it recognised “her need to progress this important work”.
“We are now in a position to advise the BBC that they can ask the chair of the BBC executive board, Dame Fiona Reynolds, to begin her review to run parallel to our investigation.
“We will develop a protocol to ensure any future potential criminal action is not jeopardised.”
Commander Peter Spindler, from Scotland Yard, said: “The public’s response to this issue has been astounding. We are dealing with alleged abuse on an unprecedented scale.
“The profile of this operation has empowered a staggering number of victims to come
forward to report the sexual exploitation which occurred during their childhood.
“I am pleased that victims feel confident enough to speak out about the abuse they suffered and would like to reassure the public that we take all these cases very seriously and they will be investigated with the utmost sensitivity.”
Police previously said Savile’s alleged catalogue of sex abuse could have spanned six decades.
Peter Watt, head of the NSPCC’s helpline, said: “It’s now looking possible that Jimmy Savile was one the most prolific sex offenders the NSPCC has ever come across.
“We have received over 136 calls directly relating to allegations against him which we’ve passed to the police.
“It’s important we recognise the brave step victims have taken in coming forward and we urge any other victims to do the same.
“We are also finding more and more people coming forward and reporting unrelated abuse after hearing the victims in this case speak out.
“Many are only just doing so after years of keeping it to themselves.”
He said the NSPCC’s priority is to support these people working with partner organisations such as the National Association for People Abused in Childhood.
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