CPS must explain why Savile probe was dropped


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The Independent Online

The Director of Public Prosecutions has launched an urgent investigation into the Crown Prosecution Service's failure to prosecute Jimmy Savile after a number of women had come forward with allegations that they had been sexually assaulted by the star.

Surrey Police submitted a file to the Crown Prosecution Service in 2009 containing references to four potential offences, including an allegation of indecent assault on a young girl at the Duncroft children's home. The case was dropped due to a lack of evidence and Savile died two years later.

David Cameron told MPs that Keir Starmer, Director of Public Prosecutions, will review legal papers from the case. The Prime Minister said it was essential that lessons were learned from the scandal of Savile's decades of sexual abuse.

Mr Starmer, pictured, said he has asked his Principal Legal Adviser, Alison Levitt QC, to examine the files "so she can consider the decisions made and advise me accordingly".

Shadow attorney general Emily Thornberry welcomed the DPP's decision, but said any review should be conducted by independent inspectors, rather than the CPS itself.

"It is deeply disappointing that the CPS was presented with evidence of a clear pattern of sexual assaults by Savile and decided not to act," said Ms Thornberry.

Meanwhile, the NSPCC yesterday said the number of people who have contacted the organisation claiming to be victims of Savile has reached 161.

Solicitors for the victims said that evidence was emerging of a "very organised" paedophile ring, whose members included Savile and his associates, operating at the BBC 40 years ago.

With nine serving BBC employees currently under investigation for "serious allegations" of sexual harassment or assault, and the corporation's handling of the crisis coming under attack from within and without, Director-General George Entwistle and Lord Patten, chair of the BBC Trust, were told that they may both have to resign.

Conservative MP Sir Roger Gale, a former producer of current affairs programmes for the BBC, criticised Patten's warning to ministers not to impinge on the BBC's independence. "If independence means being beyond challenge, then he does not appreciate the very real concern, not only or even within Parliament, but more particularly the public concern," Sir Roger said.

"It is as if your favourite and respectable aunt has been revealed to be on the game, and if Lord Patten is not able to grasp that, then I fear that not only the Director-General but also the chairman of the BBC Trust are going to have to fall on their swords."

Media commentator Raymond Snoddy said Entwistle's performance in front of a Commons select committee on Tuesday was so poor he would have to quit.