Saturday 24 March 2018

The lesson here is all about power

We're reluctant to confront power at its roots and examine culpability close to home, writes Eilis O'Hanlon JIMMY SAVILE: Rumours about the TV presenter were widespread. Photo: Jim O'Kelly

FROM an Irish point of view, what's fascinating about the unmasking of Jimmy Savile at last as a sexual predator with an unhealthy interest in teenage girls is both how familiar and unfamiliar it feels. Young victims too frightened, confused and ashamed at the time to come forward; details only emerging years after the abuse was committed; suspicion about possible cover-ups. The story has been repeated many times in Ireland. The only difference is that this time it was not the Catholic Church being accused, but the BBC.

Of course, the BBC denies it knew the truth about Savile, but rumours about his predilections -- "green room gossip", as Esther Rantzen called it -- were evidently widespread amongst certain circles for decades. "It was always said that Jimmy liked them young," one veteran broadcaster admitted anonymously to the Daily Telegraph. Another recalled how Savile "spent a night in a rather squalid hotel with a girl who was at the most 12, or probably 10". Rodney Collins, head of press at the BBC in the Seventies, says he was asked to quietly find out what the newspapers knew about Savile's interest in girls. Brian Hitchen, former editor of the Daily Star and the Sunday Express, adds that he'd been hearing stories about the Jim'll Fix It star for 45 years.

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