Jimmy Savile family's 'despair and sadness' over sex abuse claims
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Jimmy Savile's closest relatives today broke their silence to say their “own despair and sadness does not compare to that felt by the victims” who were allegedly abused by the late TV presenter.
In a statement released by Savile's nephew, Roger Foster, the family said: "How could the person we thought we knew and loved do such a thing?
"Why would a man who raised so much money for charity, who gave so much of his own time and energy for others, risk it all doing indecent criminal acts? How could anyone live their life doing the 'most good and most evil' at the same time?"
The statement, released to the Yorkshire Evening Post newspaper, explains why the family wanted Savile's headstone removed, even though it had been unveiled only a couple of weeks earlier.
The family said: "We became more aware of the outrage that many members of the public were feeling. We took the decision to remove and destroy the headstone so that it couldn't become a focus for malicious people.
"The decision was a difficult one to make, but we knew it was the right one."
They family said their "thoughts" and "prayers" were with those who had suffered abuse.
"We recognise that even our own despair and sadness does not compare to that felt by the victims," they said. They said their "feelings are in turmoil" as they await the next turn of events.
In the statement, Mr Foster continued: "Like everyone else we asked the question: why now? We couldn't find an answer."
Mr Foster said the family could understand the victims' "reluctance to say anything earlier" and said the family could "appreciate the courage it has taken to speak out now".
The family spoke out as it emerged that the head of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales has written to Rome to ask if the Vatican could investigate whether the Papal Honour awarded to Jimmy Savile for his charitable works could be posthumously removed and its effects nullified.
Savile was made a Knight Commander of St Gregory the Great by Pope John Paul II in 1990.
A spokesman said there was no official process to remove Papal knighthoods and no "deadline" for Rome to reply to the archbishop.
"It is understood that knighthoods fall when the person dies, but this letter is a request to see if there is anything that can be done," he said.
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