BBC denies it failed to act on Savile sex claims


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The Independent Online

The BBC has been forced to defend itself against allegations it failed to act on evidence Sir Jimmy Savile abused up to 10 women and that his sex crimes were an "an open secret" at the corporation.

The allegations, which include rape, are to be detailed in a documentary about the family entertainer claiming he was a sexual "predator" who targeted women when they were underage, with several saying they were too scared to speak out while he was alive. One of the victims also claims adults at her school failed to act on her allegations that Sir Jimmy groped her on a school visit.

An ITV documentary, Exposure: The Other Side of Jimmy Savile , screening on Wednesday, features allegations of sexual assault on girls as young as 14 by the Top of the Pops and Jim'll Fix It presenter who died last year aged 84. The incidents are alleged to have taken place in hotels, in his Rolls-Royce and even BBC Television Centre.

One alleged victim said she was groped by Sir Jimmy when he visited the Duncroft Approved School in Surrey in 1974. When she angrily complained and swore at him, two adults dragged her outside and demanded she retract her statement and apologise. She was then locked in isolation.

Another girl from the school was abused in the back of his Rolls-Royce. "I knew what was expected of me," she said. "I now know it was wrong and I can still get very angry about it."

One woman said Sir Jimmy had assaulted her "probably dozens of times" starting when she was 15.

Sir Jimmy was never charged with abuse during his lifetime. One complaint was made to Surrey police in 2007, but no further action was taken.

The TV personality's family have defended him this weekend, with nephew Roger Foster saying he was "disgusted and disappointed" about the allegations released when his uncle could not defend himself.

There are claims that his targeting of underage girls was an open secret. Sue Thompson, a newsroom assistant at BBC Leeds when Sir Jimmy was presenting the Speakeasy programme in 1978, said she walked in on the presenter fondling a 14-year-old. "He had his left arm up her skirt and… he was kissing her."

Yesterday the BBC hit back, saying it had investigated the allegations of misconduct by Sir Jimmy during his time at the BBC "no such evidence has been found".

"Whilst the BBC condemns any behaviour of the type alleged in the strongest terms, in the absence of evidence of any kind found at the BBC that corroborates the allegations that have been made it is simply not possible for the corporation to take any further action."

The BBC has also been forced to deny it dropped a recent Newsnight investigation into claims of abuse by Sir Jimmy to protect its reputation. The BBC said the charge was "absolutely untrue".