Jimmy Savile 'could have abused up to 1,000 victims' while at the BBC
Jimmy Savile was known to be a “nasty sleaze-bag” within the BBC, it has been claimed, ahead of a damning review which is expected to uncover hundreds of victims abused by the shamed entertainer and reveal a culture of ignorance which “protected” him.
The Dame Janet Smith review, due to be published later this year, has sought personal testimony from those abused by the late television presenter during half a century with the BBC.
Dame Janet has called on potential victims, witnesses, people who worked with Savile and senior staff at the time to assist with the investigation.
Those close to the inquiry suggest that up to 1,000 people could have fallen victim to Savile's sexual abuses. Some staff reportedly turned a blind eye to his offending.
John Simpson, the corporation’s World Affairs Editor, told the Andrew Marr Show that he regarded Savile as a “sleaze-bag” when they were BBC colleagues. But he rejected a report in the Observer which suggested that knowledge of the presenter’s offending was widespread.
Mr Simpson said: “It gives the impression, wrongly I think, that everybody in the BBC knew about it - it didn’t apply to me - and also knew about Savile and shut up about it.
“I was working all through that time. I remember what a sleaze-bag, nasty piece of work Savile was. But it didn't occur to me that this was going on.
“Of course something should have been done, and of course the BBC should have revealed it about itself.”
A BBC spokesman said the corporation would not comment until the review had been published.
Smith’s review has been in contact with more than 1,000 witnesses and victims, including 138 who have so far come forward to pursue civil claims for compensation.
Peter Saunders, chief executive of the National Association for People Abused in Childhood charity, which has been consulted on the inquiry, said: “I think the 1,000 figure is based on 50 years of him offending. It has been said that he didn’t have a quiet day in his life. There wasn't a day when he wasn't up to something, so 1,000 might not be far from the truth.”
The charity has provided support to Savile's victims, some of whom gave evidence to former judge Dame Janet.
Mr Saunders said those who passed up the opportunity to report the entertainer simply allowed him to continue his predatory offending.
He said: “I have heard a lot over the last 18 months and talked to Jimmy Savile's victims, and I have lost count of the number of people who have said they knew about the nature of the man.
“Margaret Thatcher was advised not to give him a knighthood due to his offensive behaviour. What did she do? She ignored it. Savile was protected by the establishment.”
Savile rose to fame during the 1960s and 1970s as a BBC Radio 1 DJ and presenter of Jim'll Fix It on BBC1. He worked for the BBC between 1964 and approximately 2007.
But Savile, who died in 2011 at the age of 84, is now believed to have been one of the UK's most prolific abusers, with hundreds of possible victims.
It is alleged the TV star abused young people on BBC premises, in hospitals, care homes and Broadmoor psychiatric hospital.
The scandal shook the BBC after it emerged that a Newsnight report into abuse by Savile was dropped, and the reasons given for doing so by its editor proved to be inaccurate.