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UK Health Secretary apologises to Saville's victims for 'sickening' abuse

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Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has apologised on behalf of the Government and the NHS to the victims of Jimmy Savile's "sickening" sexual abuse in hospitals across the country.

Mr Hunt acknowledged they had been "let down badly" and said he hoped honesty and transparency about what happened could help alleviate the victims' suffering.

He spoke after a series of investigations found the disgraced television presenter subjected patients in hospitals to "truly awful" sexual abuse for more than four decades.

Making a statement to the House of Commons, Mr Hunt said: "Today I want to apologise on behalf of the Government and the NHS to all the victims who were abused by Savile in NHS-run institutions.

"We let them down badly and however long ago it may have been, many of them are still reliving the pain they went through.

"If we cannot undo the past, I hope that honesty and transparency about what happened can at least alleviate some of the suffering, it's the least we owe them."

Mr Hunt said Savile repeatedly exploited the "trust of a nation" for his own "vile purposes" and that victims who spoke up were not believed.

The Health Secretary stressed it was important to recognise the "profoundly uncomfortable truth" of what the victims went through.

Mr Hunt told the Commons: "I know this House, indeed the whole country, will share a deep sense of revulsion at what they (the investigations) revealed.

"A litany of disturbing accounts of rape and sexual abuse committed by Savile on vulnerable children and adults over a period of decades.

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"At the time the victims who spoke up were not believed and it's important today that we all publicly recognise the truth of what they have said.

"But it is a profoundly uncomfortable truth.

"As a nation at that time we held Savile in our affection as a somewhat eccentric national treasure with a strong commitment to charitable causes.

"Today's report (says) that in reality he was a sickening and prolific sexual abuser who repeatedly exploited the trust of a nation for his own vile purposes."

His description of Savile as previously being held in the nation's affection as a "somewhat eccentric national treasure" were met with shouts of "no he wasn't" from some on the Labour benches.


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