Savile victims call for single judge-led inquiry

Victims of Jimmy Savile have called for a single judge-led inquiry into how the former DJ was able to evade justice for so long.

Jimmy Savile had 214 criminal offences recorded against him. Picture: PA
Jimmy Savile had 214 criminal offences recorded against him. Picture: PA

Alan Collins, the lawyer representing around 60 people who reported being abused by Savile, said he feared an opportunity could be “missed” by all the other investigations into Savile.

He said there should be one inquiry led by a High Court judge with “considerable” experience in criminal law who would have access to all the work undertaken by the other investigations.

“We have a number of inquiries under way at the moment – there must be at least a dozen – we have got the BBC being investigated, the NHS, various hospitals, and… we have the police and Crown Prosecution Service,” he told the BBC.

“There many inquiries under way at the moment and the concern is, whilst individually they may do an excellent job – reports will come out and will no doubt be extremely useful – the fact is that those who are investigating are not necessarily benefiting from the other investigations, so they are all doing their own thing as it were, and the victims feel that an opportunity may be lost because we really do need to know not just about the extent of Savile’s offending – although that is pretty clear.

“It is about really, how and why – how was Savile was able to abuse so many children and young people over so many decades?”

Allegations about Savile, who died in 2011, began to emerge following an ITV documentary in October 2012 in which several women said they were abused by him when they were teenagers.

Two separate reports published almost a year ago said Savile was “a prolific, predatory sex offender’’ who could have been prosecuted for offences against at least three victims while he was alive.

The disgraced TV presenter used his celebrity status to “hide in plain sight”, with 214 criminal offences recorded against him across 28 police forces, a report by Scotland Yard and the NSPCC found.

Speaking to the BBC, Mr Collins said in the 1980s there was a debate within government over whether Savile should be given a knighthood.

“The prime minister at the time, Margaret Thatcher, was quite keen for Savile to be knighted because of his charitable work. The Civil Service was advising her ‘hold back’.

“Those concerns were there and it begs the question why on earth – in the 1980s there were these concerns – Savile was allowed to work in NHS hospitals and appear on BBC television programmes geared to a young audience.”

An NSPCC spokesman said it agreed with victims that there needs to be some way to pull together all the lessons learned from the various inquiries, but stressed that, whatever method is used, it must not delay learning and must not be an excuse for current inquiries to be stopped or subsumed into this piece of work.

The children’s charity revealed it has received 326 calls about Savile. Since the television programme The Other Side Of Jimmy Savile aired, there had been an 81 per cent increase in contacts to the NSPCC helpline about sexual abuse and a 30 per cent increase in contacts about all types of abuse.

Peter Watt, the helpline’s director, said: “Victims deserve to be heard and it is only by looking at what went catastrophically wrong, over several decades, that we can learn lessons.