Paul Daniels accused of 'trivialising and belittling' Jimmy Savile sex abuse victims
Paul Daniels, the magician, has defended a blog in which he questioned whether sex abuse victims of Jimmy Savile are telling the truth as an "honest" account of life in the 1970s.
Daniels, 74, was accused of "belittling" the victims after he said in a blog post that he has been “wondering if all of [Savile’s] accusers are for real”.
He said on his blog that he could not be sure that all his groupies were over 16 because life in the 1970s was a “blur”.
He said he does remember once kissing a “slightly tiddly” schoolgirl he gave a lift too before realising she was underage.
The entertainer said it was difficult to tell the age of his “groupies” in the 1970s because they wore “super-short mini skirts” and “teetering high heels”.
He yesterday defended his comments by posting messages from fans who praised him for an "accurate and honest account" of showbusiness in the 1970s.
In the original blog posting, he said that “back then”, comedians, impressionists and magicians were all routinely offered sex by girls.
“Did I have such a life? Yes. I would be lying if I said I didn’t. Were they all over 16? OMG, I hope so. Can I remember them? No.
“Life back then was a blur, and therein lies a major problem with what is going on now. It was 35-40 years ago. How the hell can you say you did or you didn't? Anyone can come along and claim to have been ‘abused’ by anyone they care to name.”
Police are currently investigating 450 abuse allegations against Savile, who died last year aged 84.
Daniels said: “I can fully understand some women not wanting to talk about what happened to them, but for over 400 of them to keep quiet for 40 years seems strange.
“What I do find odd about the stories now emerging however is when a “victim” went on TV and stated that she had gone back to the dressing room quite a few times. A bad guy? Undoubtedly, but I have been wondering if all the accusers are for real.”
Claude Knight, director of Kidscape, said: “It is belittling and casting doubt on them, it is the last thing you need when you have found the courage to talk about it. I am worried about people trivialising something so serious.”
Mark Williams Thomas, a former child protection officer who was behind an ITV documentary which exposed Savile as a paedophile, said: “For someone like Paul Daniels to come out and belittle victim’s evidence that’s being given against Jimmy Savile is a disgrace because he [Savile] is proven to be an offender.
"He should be supporting these people. The bottom line is they are children who have been abused by adults, it doesn't matter how long ago it was."
Daniels, who is married to his former stage assistant Debbie McGee, 54, has three grown-up sons from his first marriage.
He confessed he had a “passionate” encounter with a schoolgirl hitch-hiker after his first season as a professional magician in 1969.
He said when he was 30 he had a long drive from Newquay to the north from a show and picked a hitchhiker on the way.
“A long long drive and in the middle of the night and in the middle of the country a mini-skirted girl was thumbing a lift,” he said.
“I gave her a lift and drove on into the night a few miles whilst the more than slightly tiddly girl moaned on about her boyfriend ignoring her in the pub that night and that she would get own back on him.
“Oh goodie for me I thought and when we got to her town I kissed her goodnight and it got a bit more passionate.”
Daniels said when he realised how young the girl was after they had kissed, he immediately threw her out of the car and drove away.
He said: “Thank God it didn’t get TOO passionate because something she said sent a shiver down my spine... Another question and she said she was still at school.
“I had her out of the car as fast as I could and I drove off with the thing went too far. So there I am.”
Discussing the sex abuse revelations against Savile, Daniels stressed the late DJ and BBC TV presenter was a “bad guy”, adding: “There were always rumours, even rumours of far worse things than I have seen reported.”
The blog by Daniels has been taken down, but he yesterday defended his comments by posting messages from fans praising him for his "honest and accurate account". He said he had "spent the night in hospital with mam" after she broke her wrist.
A spokesman for the NSPCC said: "Accusations of sexual offences must always be taken seriously and fully investigated no matter how long ago they were.
"Victims often find it very difficult to speak out and may therefore not report offences for years or even decades.
"But there was never a time when abuse such as that suffered by Savile's victims was considered acceptable.
"We must all be supportive of those who have now taken the difficult step of speaking out and their accusations must be fully investigated.'
By Steven Swinford Telegraph.co.uk