Friday 24 November 2017

Police missed 'prime chance' to catch Savile

The alleged victim and other former pupils were contacted and uncovered evidence of further offences at Duncroft and at Stoke Mandeville Hospital.
The alleged victim and other former pupils were contacted and uncovered evidence of further offences at Duncroft and at Stoke Mandeville Hospital.

Margaret Davis

The "best opportunity" to catch Jimmy Savile over abuse claims was missed by police who decided not to interview the former headteacher of a children's home, it has been claimed.

Surrey Police said that a decision was made not to speak to ex-workers from Duncroft Approved School unless there was evidence that they had witnessed or been told about sexual abuse.

Allegations linked to three former residents of the home dating back to the 1970s were made in 2007, but prosecutors found there was not enough evidence to take action.

Child protection expert Mark Williams-Thomas said that the failure to speak to head teacher Margaret Jones as part of the investigation was a missed chance to catch Savile while he was alive.

He said: "The 2007 investigation offered the best opportunity to catch Savile. It raises questions about why the one person who could have provided information was not spoken to. She could have provided important background information about the girls and Savile."

A spokeswoman for Surrey Police said officers had spoken to 22 former residents of the home.

She said: "None of the former residents spoken to during the course of the investigation indicated staff witnessed abuse and stated they had not reported abuse to any staff at the time."

Mr Williams-Thomas also told one newspaper that the names of two other celebrities accused of abuse would be passed to police.

Meanwhile, new doubts have been expressed about whether former BBC director-general Mark Thompson is a suitable figure to take over as the new chief executive of the 'New York Times' (NYT) in an opinion piece published by the newspaper.

Cover-up

'NYT' columnist Joe Nocera said in the paper yesterday that Mr Thompson appeared "wilfully ignorant" of the issues and questioned what sort of an organisation the BBC was under his command.

He added there was "plainly" a cover-up.

An inquiry, led by former Sky News chief Nick Pollard, into the decision-making process over the dropped investigation is being undertaken. Police are also investigating Savile's activities and he is now believed to have been one of the UK's most prolific abusers, with around 300 possible victims.

Irish Independent

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