Friday 22 September 2017

Police investigations into Savile spanned six decades

Former bodyguard reveals Savile's claim to have paid police to drop case

ROBERT MENDICK Exclusive

Sir Jimmy Savile was investigated by police during a series of sex abuse inquiries spanning six decades -- but each time he evaded justice.

Savile was first investigated by police "for interfering with young girls" when he was a nightclub manager in Leeds as long ago as 1958. His former bodyguard has told the Sunday Telegraph that Savile claimed to have paid officers to drop the case.

It was the first in a series of at least six investigations that included:

• An inquiry into underage sex taking place in the Top of the Pops changing rooms in the late Sixties, according to the show's then producer.

Police interviewed BBC staff but did not pursue the matter.

• An allegation in 1971 that Savile was involved with a 15-year-old dancer on Top of the Pops, who then committed suicide. The girl's half brother said Savile was interviewed as a witness but no further action was taken.

• Claims that Savile was abusing patients at Stoke Mandeville hospital in the late Seventies. John Lindsay, a detective constable at the time, reported the allegations -- made by a nurse -- but was told there was not enough evidence to proceed against a celebrity of Savile's stature.

• Two further police investigations in the past five years including one in Surrey in 2007 over claims of an indecent assault at Duncroft Approved School for Girls. Savile was interviewed by police but the case dropped due to lack of evidence.

In further evidence that there were widespread suspicions about Savile, his co-presenter Tony Blackburn spoke out to say that it was to his "eternal regret" that his former BBC colleague had been "allowed to get away with these monstrous acts".

The revelations raise serious concerns that the BBC covered up Savile's sex crimes at the time to protect the reputation of one of their biggest stars.

George Entwistle, the BBC's director general, insisted last week the corporation could find no evidence of allegations of abuse by Savile in its files.

In his first intervention since Savile's behaviour was made public, Blackburn, 69, a former Top of the Pops presenter, said: "I am disgusted beyond words at the vile, despicable actions of Jimmy Savile.

"He was never a friend. He was not a nice man despite how the public viewed him at the peak of his success.

"There were always rumours circulating about him, the problem at the time was that rumour was always hard to translate into fact. Jimmy Savile was a master manipulator."

Scotland Yard said yesterday the number of likely victims had reached 60, with 340 lines of inquiry pursued by 14 separate forces. The UK's National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children has received more than 100 complaints.

Peter Watt, the head of the NSPCC's helpline, said: "The number of incidents reported have reached treble figures making him a hugely prolific sex offender -- one of the worst I've ever heard of."

Inquiries carried out by The Sunday Telegraph in Britain show Savile first escaped justice in Leeds in 1958. Savile was investigated by police over sexual assault allegations, according to his former minder at the time. Dennis Lemmon, now 80, recalled Savile,

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who at the time ran a nightclub, being in a bad mood because he faced a court hearing the next day for "interfering with young girls".

Mr Lemmon said: "He was really worried but everything was dropped. I was told he paid them [the police] off. And apparently that wasn't the first time either but I don't know about that. He had a lot of friends though."

A decade later in the late Sixties, police interviewed BBC staff over allegations of underage sex taking place in changing rooms. Savile was not the focus of that investigation although it is clear he was offending at that stage.

Stanley Dorfman, the show's producer and director in the Sixties, said he recalled police officers interviewing BBC staff about allegations of under-age sex taking place in musicians' dressing rooms.

Mr Dorfman, 84, said: "They [police] came and talked to everybody because apparently there had been under-age girls in dressing rooms. It went on for a couple of weeks or so and then they disappeared."

Then in 1971 prompted by the suicide of Clair McAlpine, a 15-year-old dancer on Top of the Pops, police launched another investigation. Clair, who overdosed on sleeping pills, had left behind a diary detailing claims of being 'used' by celebrities. Her claims were largely dismissed as fantasy by detectives.

Her half-brother Mark Ufland said: "Jimmy Savile was in the diary for having some sort of sexual relationship with her. As far as I know, Jimmy Savile was interviewed as a witness. My mother told me that the diary went to the police and never came back."

In the late Seventies, a police officer reported to superiors the concerns of a nurse at Stoke Mandeville Hospital but was told to drop the investigation. Former detective constable John Lindsay repeated his claims to Scotland Yard on Friday.

After Jonathan King's conviction in 2001 for abusing boys, it is understood police looked again at Savile but again, according to a police source: "There was no firm evidence to link him with any criminal activity."

In 2007, Surrey police questioned Savile over allegations of child sex abuse in the Seventies at Duncroft school. The Crown Prosecution Service advised there was insufficient evidence. Again in 2008, Sussex Police received a complaint of sexual assault by Savile which allegedly took place in Worthing in 1970.

The BBC's handling of the case has also come under the spotlight. An investigation by Newsnight into Savile was dropped while two tribute programmes were allowed to go ahead by Mr Entwistle.

A senior coalition minister said last night: "The handling has certainly added fuel to the fire."

John Whittingdale, Tory MP and chairman of the culture select committee, said he is likely to call the director general to give evidence to MPs.

Lord Patten, the chairman of the BBC Trust, admitted last night that the corporation has a lot of questions to answer.

"We all have things to answer for, but clearly the BBC has more questions to [answer] than the others because these things happened on our premises and he was an employee," he said.

A BBC spokesman said last night of the Clair McAlpine inquest: "No adverse finding was made against the BBC by the coroner. According to our records, the allegations did not relate to Savile."

He said any information would be made available to the inquiries.

© Telegraph

Sunday Independent

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