Leaders: Savile’s depravity cries out for inquiry

Every right-thinking person will recoil at Savile's disgusting behaviour. Picture: PA
Every right-thinking person will recoil at Savile's disgusting behaviour. Picture: PA
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ALTHOUGH it might seem impossible, Jimmy Savile has been revealed to have been even more depraved than was thought.

The former BBC disc jockey, widely regarded, in the words of the Health Secretary as “an eccentric national treasure with a strong commitment to charitable causes”, turns out to have been a monster. The litany of sexual attacks, child abuse and perversion is far longer and more appalling than the first investigations unearthed.

Every right-thinking person will recoil at his disgusting behaviour. The description of sexual attacks and abuse of patients where Savile was given unrestricted access and with no evident oversight beggars belief. A report covering 28 hospitals, including Leeds General Infirmary and Broadmoor Hospital, lists assaults on victims aged five to 75 extending over decades and involving injured children and helpless patients. The claims even extend to the abuse of corpses.

Savile was able to get away with these horrendous attacks because of his fame and the deference shown to someone who had made his name as a popular entertainer. Few patients imagined that a visit from Savile in hospital, far from being a treat, would turn out to be their worst nightmare.

But there were many who did know of Savile’s predilection for the sexual abuse of children. And there were also many in authority who were alerted to his perverted behaviour and who chose either to disbelieve the reports or to do nothing. A widespread reaction seems to have been that the incidents reported were so disgusting that they could not possibly be true. As a result, Savile was able to escape official attention for decades and allowed to continue on his trail of depraved assaults.

It is wholly natural that people should wish to know those responsible within the NHS who chose to dismiss the reports and who fell down on their duty of care to the vulnerable patients in their charge. But the compelling case for an inquiry rests on the need to explore how such an unquestioning and lackadaisical culture was allowed to persist within the hospitals he targeted and why those who took their suspicions to their managers were dismissed as rumour-mongers or worse, threatened with disciplinary action.

It is particularly galling that Savile was able to continue his depraved behaviour years after rumours first surfaced and his perverted interest in young girls became known to some. That is more than an amber light of warning. It could – and should – have triggered far more intense scrutiny of the unfettered right of access he continued to enjoy.

Although it might seem natural to wish to draw a line under Savile’s despicable actions, to hear no more and to move on, it is important that we hear the voices and testimony of the victims to challenge our complacency – and help ensure that there is never a repetition.

Is this the end of the brain drain

Gloom-mongers about the national condition of Scotland can cheer up a little. It seems that fears about the magnetic attraction of London and the south-east draining Scotland’s population are overblown.

It’s been a depressing pub lament that Scotland is heading downhill, more folk are leaving and we’re not attracting young people. But figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) show fewer people are leaving Scotland for England and more are coming here from the south.

In fact, the number of people leaving Scotland to live in England and Wales has dropped to its lowest point for more than a decade. Only 37,700 people left Scotland to go to England and Wales in 2013, a fifth lower than in 2002, while the number people coming north has risen by almost 10 per cent since 2011 to hit 45,000.

Is it our cheerful national demeanour? Our happy, uncomplaining natures? Or perhaps the fine year-round warm and sunny weather we so often take for granted?

The ONS says that economic factors and the impact of university tuition fees, which has made it “more financially favourable for students to remain in Scotland”, are likely to have contributed to a decline in Scots moving south. A major concern in recent years is that while we have succeeded in attracting university students from south of the Border and overseas, few have stayed on to take up permanent employment.

It’s too early yet to say whether the independence referendum has had any effect. But whatever the reason for these heartening statistics, it seems government policy aimed at encouraging young graduates to stay is working, and this should be