I saw Jimmy Savile and Gary Glitter abuse girls at BBC, says woman
Corporation under pressure after victim says she first told her story to Newsnight team
Adam Sherwin is Media Correspondent at The Independent and an award-winning writer who specialises in covering the entertainment, broadcasting, music and popular culture industries. Previously Media writer and diarist at The Times, he was a co-founder of the Beehive City media and entertainment website. As regular contributor to BBC London 94.9 Radio station, he was named Music Business writer of the year at the awards of influential music industry site Record of the Day in 2006.
Wednesday 03 October 2012
A woman has claimed she saw Sir Jimmy Savile and the glam rocker Gary Glitter both sexually abusing under-age girls at the same time in Savile's dressing room at the BBC Television Centre.
Karin Ward, who also says she was abused by another television star in the same room when she was 14, waived her anonymity yesterday to make the allegations. She first told her story to a BBC Newsnight team but the report was never broadcast.
Ms Ward has now been interviewed for an ITV documentary that will be screened tonight. In it, she says: "I told Newsnight that I saw Gary Glitter have sex with a girl in Jimmy Savile's dressing room … in that little alcove bit. I didn't see it completely but that's what was going on and nobody batted an eyelid. I also told them that I was horribly, horribly humiliated."
In 1999, Glitter, now 68, was sentenced to four months in jail and listed as a sex offender for child pornography offences in Britain. He was later deported from Cambodia for suspected child abuse, and then sentenced to three years in a Vietnamese jail for committing obscene acts with girls aged 10 and 11.
The ITV1 documentary, Exposure: The Other Side of Jimmy Savile, to be shown at 11.10pm tonight, will accuse Savile of a catalogue of sexual abuse involving young girls.
As a result, the BBC – which recently dropped the Newsnight report into the claims of 10 women who said they were assaulted by Savile – is facing renewed pressure over its handling of the affair. The corporation said yesterday that it would contact police to offer its full co-operation and open its files for any investigation.
The issue is the first big crisis facing the new BBC director-general, George Entwistle. Newsnight's report about Savile was dropped by BBC2's programmes editor, Peter Rippon, despite protests from journalists who worked on the story and interviewed witnesses. Ms Ward says she was notified it was not being broadcast by text message.
John Whittingdale, the Conservative MP for Maldon and chairman of the Commons Media Select Committee, said that his panel intended to question Mr Entwistle about the decision to drop the Newsnight report.
Michael Grade, who was BBC chairman from 2004 to 2006, told Channel 4 News last night that he heard rumours about Savile's conduct while he was controller of BBC One, but said any suggestion of a cover-up by the corporation was ludicrous.
He added: "I never heard anything that gave me cause to think we should investigate it. There were questions, but the entertainment industry is awash on a sea of rumours."
A BBC spokesman said yesterday: "A number of serious and disturbing allegations have been made about the sexual abuse of teenage girls by Jimmy Savile. Some allegations relate to activity on BBC premises in the 1960s and 70s.
"We are horrified by allegations that anything of this sort could have happened at the BBC, or have been carried out by anyone working for the BBC… so we have today asked the BBC investigations unit to make direct contact with all the police forces in receipt of allegations and offer to help them investigate these matters and provide full support to any lines of inquiry."
It also emerged yesterday that police in Jersey investigated Savile over claims that he sexually assaulted a girl at a children's home which later became the centre of an abuse inquiry. In 2008, a woman made a formal complaint that Savile molested her at the Haut de la Garenne home in the 1970s. A three-year, £7.5m investigation by Jersey police into historic child abuse in the island's care homes began after allegations of abuse.
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