Savile's family reveal 'despair and sadness' over victims
JIMMY Savile's closest relatives yesterday broke their silence to say their "own despair and sadness does not compare to that felt by the victims" who were abused by the late TV presenter.
In a statement released by Savile's nephew, Roger Foster, the family said: "How could the person we thought we knew and loved do such a thing?
"Why would a man who raised so much money for charity, who gave so much of his own time and energy for others, risk it all doing indecent criminal acts? How could anyone live their life doing the 'most good and most evil' at the same time?"
The statement, released to the Yorkshire Evening Post newspaper, explains why the family wanted Savile's headstone removed, even though it had been unveiled only a couple of weeks earlier.
The family said: "We became more aware of the outrage that many members of the public were feeling. We took the decision to remove and destroy the headstone so that it couldn't become a focus for malicious people. The decision was a difficult one to make, but we knew it was the right one."
They family said their "thoughts and prayers" were with those who had suffered abuse. "We recognise that even our own despair and sadness does not compare to that felt by the victims," they said.
They said their "feelings are in turmoil" as they await the next turn of events.
Mr Foster said the family could understand the victims' "reluctance to say anything earlier" and said the family could "appreciate the courage it has taken to speak out now".
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The family spoke out as it emerged that the head of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales has written to Rome to ask if the Vatican could investigate whether the papal honour awarded to Jimmy Savile for his charitable works could be posthumously removed. Savile was made a Knight Commander of St Gregory the Great by Pope John Paul II in 1990.
A spokesman for the Archbishop of Westminster, the Most Reverend Vincent Nichols, said last week's letter was written in response to "the deep distress of all those who have suffered abuse" and "the disquiet at Mr Savile's name remaining on papal honours lists".
The spokesman said there was no official process to remove papal knighthoods and no "deadline" for Rome to reply to the archbishop.
"It is understood that knighthoods fall when the person dies, but this letter is a request to see if there is anything that can be done," he said. However, Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said there was no way to revoke a knighthood posthumously since there is no permanent list of people who have received it in the past.
"The honour dies with the individual," he said. He added that the Vatican was "deeply saddened that a person who has been stained by such acts could in his lifetime have been proposed for an honour by the Holy See".
Yesterday, British PR guru Max Clifford claimed that dozens of big-name stars from the Sixties and Seventies had contacted him because they were "frightened" they would be implicated in the widening child-abuse scandal.
He said that the stars were worried because at their peak they had lived a hedonistic lifestyle where young girls threw themselves at them but they "never asked for anybody's birth certificate".