The saga of Jimmy Savile
Wednesday, April 24, 2013
Justinian in Defamation, Jimmy Savile, Sexual abuse, Theodora

Rolf Harris named in the mainstream media following his arrest ... Now lawyers and MPs want to restrict naming of people arrested, but not yet charged ... The Jimmy Savile affair and the spread of allegations ... "Everyone" knew, but no one did anything ... Where's the money? ... Investigation industry thriving ... Theodora on the case 

Rolf: wobbly after publication of arrest

AUSTRALIAN entertainer Rolf Harris has been arrested by police in England as part of Operation Yewtree - the ongoing investigations into the Jimmy Savile sexual abuse allegations. 

Murdoch's The Sun named him last week in what it described as a "World Exclusive". 

The arrest occurred on March 28, and even though the twitterverse and bloggersphere had been speculating that it was Harris who had been questioned, the mainstream media had kept schtumm - until now - as the unfortunate naming of Lord McAlpine in connection with sexual allegations was still fresh in the mind of the media.  

There is now a concerted move by some politicians and lawyers in the UK for the media to face penalties where suspects are named before they are charged

Harris is not accused of any conduct involving Savile.

First with the news that everyone knewThese police investigations began after the award-winning 2012 ITV documentary, The Other Side of Jimmy Savile, which made allegations that the UK celebrity DJ and BBC star was a serial paedophile, who had taken advantage of his role as a fundraiser to abuse hospital patients, children's home residents and other vulnerable people.

Other celebrities (such as Gary Glitter) have been investigated and arrested.

Not all arrests have resulted in charges.

Wilfred De'ath, a retired BBC producer, was arrested, but after investigation police did not press charges.

De'ath told the Sun (March 30, 2013) that, "everyone at the BBC was at it" during those days of sexual liberation.

He added that at the time everyone knew about Savile's sexual predilections. Even though another BBC DJ, Jonathan King, was eventually convicted and jailed in 2001 for sexual molestation of five boys, no one said anything about Savile.

Unlike allegations about De'ath and other celebrities under investigation in Operation Yewtree, allegations about Savile were do not relate just to young girls throwing themselves at him during his TV stardom.

Most relate to patients and children's home residents he came into contact with partly through his BBC work and partly through his fundraising activities, principally for NHS hospitals. 

He raised substantial sums for charity, including £40 million for the establishment of Stoke Mandeville's National Spinal Injuries Centre. He was involved with about 14 hospital and hospice fundraising bodies as well as many for the BBC (e.g. Children in Need). 

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Savile: where did the money go?

THE most controversial findings may turn out to be those relating to Savile's finances.

Savile had access to vast sums of money. His estate was immediately frozen in October 2012, but the money in his estate, less than £4 million, was already in charitable trusts for health-related purposes.

Four million pounds does not seem like much to leave behind for someone like Savile, who was obsessed with making money.

In a 1991 interview with Dr Clare, he said that he had "all the money that was ever printed", calling it "too much" money.

Jimmy Savile's role as a fundraiser cannot explain why or how he came to participate in hospital management.

He not only had access to financial records for the institutions with which he was associated (for example, managing Broadmoor Hospital after its trustees were suspended); he raised what is estimated to have been about £40 million for charity.

Savile notoriously had the keys to the "secure unit" at Broadmoor; and effectively he had keys to the cashbox.

The Guardian noted the setting up of an internal inquiry into "management" in its article of 12 October 2012:

"Savile was a volunteer for more than four decades at the hospital, had keys to its secure unit and at one point in 1988 was appointed to lead a 'taskforce' overseeing the management of the hospital after its management board was dismissed by the then health secretary, Kenneth Clarke.

The Department of Health confirmed that it had launched an internal inquiry into its management of the secure hospital before it was transferred to the control of West London mental health trust in 2001."

Brian McGinnis, the civil servant who procured Savile's appointment for Broadmoor, was himself investigated and prevented from working with children in 2002 (Bromley Council) and 2005 (Croydon Council), according to reports in the Telegraph

The Telegraph describes the "unusual" way in which Savile's appointment was approved at a 1987 meeting at the Athenaeum Club, where "officials who shall remain nameless" issued the invitation to Savile. Savile was an member of the club.

The junior health minister, Edwina Currie, was "fairly sure" that Savile "suggested himself" for this position. 

She thought he obtained information there which he used to blackmail staff. 

While the Guardian went on to note the allegations of sexual abuse of inmates, an inquiry into "management" would need to look at all aspects of Savile's activities, as the terms of reference for the Leeds Hospital inquiry shows.

The real question is how much of Savile's money is actually accounted for in his estate, and how is it that he acquired a fortune on the BBC salary he enjoyed (a discrepancy BBC radio DJ Andy Kershaw pointed out in the Telegraph on March 24)? 

Not surprisingly, at least one hospital (Leeds) has already set-up its own inquiry into all aspects of fundraising involving Savile. 

Perhaps the most intriguing of these inquiries is a story which seems to have vanished from the Daily Mail website, originally published on January 5. 

We've found a slightly garbled version from an obscure Indian news service called, appropriately, The World is a Small Place.

"Pervert Jimmy Savile may have stashed millions of pounds overseas to protect his money in case his crimes came to light.

Lawyers acting for those molested by Savile have launched a probe into the disgraced DJ's finances in a bid to unearth cash which can be used as compensation.

Pannone Solicitors believe he siphoned off cash from the two charities he set up, as well as money from his public appearances, into offshore accounts.

They believe he has a far greater fortune than the £4.3 executors of his will by NatWest Bank, to ask for an investigation.

Alan Collins, of Pannone Solicitors, said: 

'He left a £4.3 million estate, which in the context of his lifestyle and other celebrities of such long-standing success is a modest amount.

If he had left £20 million or more then that would have been a more realistic and understandable amount. It just doesn't add up.

Quite simply, we are asking, 'what happened to Jimmy's millions'?" 

Police are examining 31 allegations of rape against Savile and said 589 people have come forward with information relating to the scandal.

A total of 450 complaints have been made against the DJ himself, mainly alleging sexual abuse. His alleged crimes took place in areas covered by 17 separate police forces.

A great niece of Savile who has come forward about the abuse from her great uncle believes the number of people he abused to be much higher. 

Pannones ought to know what it is doing, as the firm acts for 31 claimants.

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Savile: The Sun paid him damages for what looks like a substantially accurate report

What next?

THE Savile sage highlights some governance issues, as well as defamation law reform issues, which are as relevant to Australia as they are to the United Kingdom.

First, it shows the undesirability of relying upon the voluntary provision of essential services such as hospital funding.

Savile manipulated the system to prey on vulnerable patients. Only time will tell whether the funds he raised were put to a proper purpose or whether the opinions held by the claimants' lawyers turn out to be well-grounded.

Second, the UK Charity Commission is largely powerless to prevent or investigate misuse of charitable funds. If it transpires that Savile is a financial as well as a sexual predator, legislative reform and a stronger investigative arm would be desirable.

Misuse of charitable organisations by the wealthy and unscrupulous is not exactly unknown, either in the United Kingdom or in Australia.

Third, the Savile saga underlines, once again, the importance of strong libel laws.

Savile boasted that he had threatened to sue for defamation five times. He did in fact commence proceedings against The Sun for libel in 2008 when the paper linked him to the sex abuse allegations at Haut de la Garenne.

The continued refusal of Australian legislators to consider even a Reynolds reportage defence means that it would be even harder for the media in Australia to report such allegations.

Fourth, it should not be forgotten that News of the World launched a "Named and Shamed" campaign in July 2000.

Ill-considered and inflammatory, it was abandoned the following month. The hysterical misreporting of the Madeleine McCann story is dealt with at length in the Leveson Report.

These inaccurate stories distracted public inquiry away from hard evidence of paedophilia (as Nick Davies perceptively noted in his book Flat Earth News) and made it easier for offenders to get away with it.

Bad reporting can be just as damaging to the truth as bad libel laws.

Savile investigations 

THESE are the main investigations into allegations relating to the conduct of Jimmy Savile. 

Article originally appeared on Justinian: Australian legal magazine. News on lawyers and the law (
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