Wednesday 13 December 2017

Ex-minister implicated as Savile claims grow deeper

It is revealed that Saville was put in charge of a hospital taskforce by Edwina Currie.

THE scandal of how Jimmy Savile was able to abuse young girls for decades deepened last night after a newspaper investigation implicated both former UK government ministers and executives at the BBC.

A series of institutional failings gave Savile access to victims and prevented his detection in his lifetime.

The revelations come as pressure intensifies over BBC management's decision to drop a Newsnight investigation into Savile.

The BBC will go to war with itself tomorrow when Panorama, its flagship news programme, threatens to dismantle the corporation's official reason for doing so.

It is understood that a series of emails shows the BBC had set a transmission date for the Newsnight investigation, which would have exposed Savile in December of last year. But in the days beforehand the programme's editor ordered that more information was required, which, according to one Newsnight source, effectively killed off the investigation.

A Sunday Telegraph investigation has revealed:

• Edwina Currie appointed Savile to run a taskforce in charge of Broadmoor in the 1980s, where he is accused of sexually assaulting patients

• The taskforce was given temporary powers to oversee the running of the hospital following a series of industrial disputes -- despite the fact that Savile, a disc jockey and television presenter, had no professional qualifications

• A friend of Savile's from his home town in Leeds was then given the most senior job at Broadmoor

• The BBC investigated allegations of sexual impropriety at Top of the Pops and Radio 1 in the early 1970s, but never made the report public

• Savile was interviewed by the BBC as part of that inquiry but refused to co-operate, according to a senior source.

Scotland Yard last week announced that it was launching a full-scale criminal inquiry into other members of Savile's alleged sex ring who remain alive. The police are now looking at 400 separate lines of inquiry and more than 200 potential victims.

Savile, despite having no expertise in mental health, was given the job of chairman of the taskforce overseeing Broadmoor in 1988 after the hospital had been placed under direct control of the Thatcher government following a series of strikes. Savile counted himself as a friend of Margaret Thatcher.

Savile had a long association with Broadmoor, having been a volunteer worker there in the 1970s and 1980s with the unofficial title "honourary entertainments officer". He had his own set of keys and living quarters on site.

Savile's appointment to the taskforce is now subject to a UK Department of Health official inquiry but last night Mrs Currie said: "The Department of Health is digging out the papers from the archives and I just don't know.

"I'm ransacking my own notes to try to work out what happened, so I am not denying it, it is just very hard to tell."

The former minister said that having checked her personal diaries, she had found a note of a meeting with Savile in Leeds in September 1988 -- the month the taskforce was appointed.

In the entry she described his thoughts on Broadmoor as "intriguing".

Mrs Currie recorded that during the meeting Savile had told her that he suspected staff were inflating their salaries -- and that he had threatened to pass the information to the tabloid papers if the staff caused him any trouble.

Savile also told her he had uncovered millions of pounds missing from budgets and poor use of the hospital's housing stock.

"In my diary, I wrote 'Attaboy', she said. "This was what he claimed to be doing; now it is hard to know whether any of it is true.

"And obviously when you look back, it does suggest he was prepared to use blackmail to ensure people did what he wanted."

Mrs Currie, who had previously met Savile on his television programme Jim'll Fix It and on visits to Leeds General Infirmary, where he also worked, said she now thought that the presenter was "totally evil" and she was glad criminal investigations were now under way.

Savile once described himself in a newspaper interview as "the boss of Broadmoor" and in 1989 said he was responsible for the freeing of 60 patients and intended to introduce "mixed-sex wings", so patients could fall in love with each other.

Separately, Savile was caught up in a sex scandal that engulfed Top of the Pops and Radio 1 in the early 1970s when police investigated claims that music companies hired prostitutes for staff in return for playing their records on air.

The same officers also investigated the suicide of a 15-year-old dancer on Top of the Pops, who Savile is alleged to have abused. It is believed that an independent inquiry launched by the BBC and run by a senior QC questioned Savile over the sex scandal but its findings were never made public.

Savile's activities on Top of the Pops and other programmes where he is accused of raping and sexually assaulting girls on the corporation's premises will form part of a new BBC inquiry into the time.

But it is the failure of the BBC to broadcast an investigation into his years of abuse that will come under the immediate spotlight. Two journalists from Newsnight, who uncovered evidence of Savile's sex crimes, have given interviews to Panorama questioning the BBC's motives for ditching its original report.

Sources say emails will also question the BBC's official version of events -- that the investigation was only pulled because it failed to show failings at the Crown Prosecution Service in bringing a prosecution against Savile in 2008.

The claims will put renewed pressure on George Entwistle, the director general, who will be quizzed by MPs on Tuesday, a few hours after the screening of Panorama.

Mr Entwistle faces claims the Newsnight investigation was shelved to make way for two Savile tribute programmes following his death last year at the age of 84.

At the time Mr Entwistle was overseeing the tribute programmes.

© Telegraph

Sunday Independent

Promoted Links

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Promoted Links

Editors Choice

Also in World News