independent

Friday 25 April 2014

Savile victim numbers may double

The number of victims who fell prey to Jimmy Savile could double, with current figures "a mere drop in the ocean", a child protection expert has warned.

Mark Williams-Thomas, who presented the original ITV documentary that first exposed Savile as a dangerous sexual predator, said he could have targeted hundreds more victims in his almost six decades of abuse.

He said: "For anybody who works in this area the sheer scale is quite shocking. When you deal with sex offenders they are quite specific in their targeting. What is different with Savile is that there's no specific target in terms of ages or sexes. He ranged from male to female, children to adults. It's truly shocking.

"The offence at the last Top Of The Pops was when he was 79 years old and he was still offending.

"The first offence was in 1955 and the last in 2009, that's almost 60 years of offending. There could be at least double the number of potential victims, it's a mere drop in the ocean."

Scotland Yard is leading Operation Yewtree, the investigation into allegations against Savile and other high-profile figures. It is currently dealing with around 450 claims against Savile himself.

So far they have interviewed 10 people in relation to alleged sexual offences.

Mr Williams-Thomas said he knows of a number of other well known names who have not yet been interviewed but are under investigation.

"Savile was never going to be brought to justice because he's dead, but we've given the victims a voice and that's really important. Now we have to make sure that those people who are alive, that evidence is collected correctly and if they have done anything wrong they are brought to justice."

A number of Savile's victims are in regular contact with the former detective.

He said: "It's a very sad day given how many people's lives he affected. He was never here to face justice.

"It's a very difficult day for them. They never realised how big this was. That is so often the case that victims don't know there are other victims."

Mr Williams-Thomas called for one person to be appointed to gather together the results of the string of internal investigations being carried out by health organisations, police forces and the BBC.

He said: "What I would like to see is one single individual who has expertise in this field, who is not going to be silenced, who could pull together all of the reports and give us a definitive answer."

Savile's victims expressed shock and anger at the length of time it has taken to expose the DJ's predatory behaviour and that nobody attempted to put an end to the suffering.

The lawyer representing over 50 Savile victims, Liz Dux, said all would be pursuing civil claims for compensation.

A total of 450 people have come forward alleging sexual abuse against Savile since October, of whom 73 per cent were children at the time of the offences.

Ms Dux said all her clients – the number of whom is rising – were suing Savile's estate and would also pursue claims against the organisations responsible for where the abuse took place.

And she insisted they were not doing it for the money.

"All the victims that we are representing are wanting to pursue civil claims," Ms Dux said.

"Compensation is the only thing we can really do for them but that is not their particular motivation.

"It is for getting their stories out there to get them believed and to prevent it from happening again. You don't do it for the money.

"All of them have claims against Savile's estate and in addition the BBC and various hospitals and so on where the abuse took place."

Ms Dux said the claims would be placed "on a moratorium" until the various inquiries had finished.

The BBC has launched a search for the next editor of Newsnight after the programme dropped a report into Jimmy Savile's decades-long campaign of sexual abuse.

Peter Rippon, who took over at Newsnight in 2008, stood aside when his explanation about why the investigation was pulled was criticised for inaccuracies and had to be corrected.

The job advert for his replacement reads: "After a period of intense external and internal scrutiny and challenge Newsnight is looking for a tough, innovative and creative individual with sound editorial judgement to be the next editor."

Sunday Independent

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