Charities consider name change after Jimmy Savile sex claims

Jimmy Savile. Picture: TSPL
Jimmy Savile. Picture: TSPL
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TWO charities founded by Sir Jimmy Savile are to consider changing their names to remove all reference to the broadcaster following the growing flood of sexual abuse allegations against him.

The Jimmy Savile Charitable Trust and Jimmy Savile Stoke Mandeville Hospital Charitable Trust said they were weighing up the move in the face of a widespread public backlash against the Jim’ll Fix It host.

More than 40 women have come forward since an ITV documentary aired on Wednesday night, detailing allegations that Savile raped and sexually assaulted underage girls at BBC television centre.

A major Scotland Yard investigation into the allegations is taking place.

Both trusts are also considering giving some of their funds to organisations which work with victims of sexual abuse as they seek to avoid being tainted by Savile’s alleged behaviour.

Regulations prevent either charity from giving money to alleged victims directly as compensation.

About £5 million in funds is held between the two trusts named after the disc jockey.

It is estimated he raised £40 million for good causes in his lifetime.

In a statement issued yesterday, the Jimmy Savile Charitable Trust said: “The trustees are aware that a large proportion of the funds the charity received came from donors other than the late Jimmy Savile through fundraising and legacies.

“The trustees are grateful to all those who have supported the charity in the past.

“They have been contacted by a number of members of the public suggesting that they should change the charity’s name and they are in the process of looking into this.

“As a registered charity, the Jimmy Savile Charitable Trust is obliged to use its funds for charitable causes.

“The charity has recently committed substantial funds to medical research, hospitals and the Leeds Undergraduate Research Endowment.

“Whilst the charity usually supports causes that are likely to benefit many people, the charity does also support individual cases.”

The statement said the trustees would meet soon to discuss how best to use their remaining funds.

“They [trustees] are looking at supporting, amongst others, charities that work with survivors of sexual abuse,” the statement said. “They feel this is the right thing to do in the circumstances.”

The charity’s position represents a change in tack after attempting to refute the allegations against Savile as recently as Tuesday. Trustees said at the time they were “personally outraged” by the sex abuse claims.

The confirmation came as several memorials erected in honour of Sir Jimmy were removed across the Yorkshire seaside resort of Scarborough, where the late broadcaster owned a flat and is buried.

Councillor David Jeffels, from Scarborough Borough Council, said a gold plaque had been taken down from outside the entertainer’s former home and the Sir Jimmy Savile memorial steering group had been disbanded.

Signs for a cliff-side path named Savile’s View have also been removed and plans to erect a £100,000 sea-front statue scrapped.

The statue would have depicted the TV star sitting in a big armchair – his trademark pose from BBC programme Jim’ll Fix It.

Mr Jeffels, who met Savile on several occasions, said taking down the memorials had been “without a doubt” the right decision.

He said: “At the end of the day we know they’re only allegations, but nevertheless with the strength of public opinion and the media frenzy that’s resulted from it, we didn’t have any option but to take that action.

“He was held in very high regard in Scarborough. He did a lot of very good charity work and he would support any good cause. It has saddened the town and certainly shocked the town as well.”

Meanwhile, supermarket chain Asda has stopped selling Savile fancy dress costumes via its website.

Plans to convert a cottage in Glencoe that belonged to the broadcaster into a home for the disabled are also unlikely to go ahead.

Prime Minister David Cameron yesterday called for the sexual abuse allegations against the former DJ to be fully investigated.

He described the allegations as “truly shocking” and said they should be looked into by the BBC, which employed Savile at the time, and the police.

“It seems to me it is very important that the organisation, the BBC, does that itself,” Mr Cameron said.

“But also, if there are questions that should be pursued by the police and other organisations, everyone has to ask themselves the question ‘is there new evidence that needs to be looked at? Are there new things as an organisation we should look at and examine?’

“But from what I have read – and that is just as a consumer of the media – truly shocking things have been said.”

Two archive editions of Top of the Pops featuring the presenter have been pulled from BBC’s schedules as the public broadcaster battles claims it covered up allegations against its former employee.

However, BBC Trust chairman Lord Patten is reported to have ruled out an independent inquiry of its own in a letter sent to Conservative MP Rob Wilson.

Lord Patten said no pressure had been put on the editor of BBC’s Newsnight to dump an investigation alleging that Sir Jimmy had assaulted girls as young as 14.

The 10-minute programme had been due to air in December last year, but never went ahead.

Claims have since been made that then BBC director-general Mark Thompson shelved the investigation to avoid the embarrassment of it airing in the lead-up to three tribute shows scheduled for Christmas and the New Year.

A BBC Trust spokeswoman said: “The trust shares the horror felt by the general public at allegations that anything of this sort could have happened on BBC premises or have been carried out by anyone working for the corporation.

“The director-general has asked the BBC investigations unit to make contact with all the police forces in receipt of allegations and provide full support to any lines of inquiry.

“The trust is satisfied this is the most appropriate action to take, particularly given that the allegations involve criminal activity.”

Mental health charity Mind is meanwhile planning its own inquiry into its involvement in running the Duncroft Approved School in Surrey, where Savile is alleged to have sexually abused pupils during the 1970s.

“We take this situation very seriously and will co-operate in any way we are able to with the relevant authorities, in any investigation that follows this documentary. We are also carrying out our own investigation into these allegations,” a statement said.