Jimmy Savile probe to investigate doctors who worked at hospitals linked to him


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The Independent Online

Information on three doctors who worked at hospitals where Jimmy Savile had links has been passed to police amid claims they were involved in a network of child abusers connected with the disgraced presenter.

The Guardian said the trio were alleged to have abused young people in their care and were identified by victims who came forward in the last two weeks.

Police are examining individuals who might have had access to vulnerable children, some of whom were associated with Savile, the newspaper said.

The former DJ, who died last year aged 84, had a bedroom at Stoke Mandeville Hospital, an office and living quarters at Broadmoor and widespread access to Leeds general infirmary.

Since the allegations about Savile emerged the children's charity the NSPCC said it has received 161 calls relating to him, which have been passed to police.

A decision not to prosecute Savile over abuse allegations in 2009 will come under the spotlight again after the Prime Minister said Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer would review legal papers from the case.

Surrey Police submitted a file to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) containing references to four potential offences, including an allegation of indecent assault on a young girl at a children's home, but it was dropped due to a lack of evidence.

David Cameron told MPs it was essential that lessons were learned from the scandal of Savile's decades of sexual abuse.

Speaking at Prime Minister's Questions, he said: "The Director of Public Prosecutions has confirmed that his principal legal adviser will again review the papers from the time when a case was put to the CPS for prosecution.

"The Director of Public Prosecutions specifically is going to consider what more can be done to alert relevant authorities where there are concerns that a prosecution is not taken forward.

"The Government will do everything it can do, other institutions must do what they can do, to make sure that we learn the lesson of this and it can never happen again."

Mr Starmer said the evidence was considered by prosecutors, but because the alleged victims would not support police action, it was decided not to proceed.

As the number of allegations against Savile has snowballed, Mr Starmer asked the chief Crown prosecutor for the South East, Roger Coe-Salazar, to look at the files again.

He concluded the correct decision was taken, although the files will again be reviewed "out of an abundance of caution".

Mr Starmer said: "He has assured me that the decisions taken at the time were the right decisions based on the information and evidence then available."

He added: "This is not a straightforward issue but I have said to the Attorney General that I would like to discuss with him whether the CPS should adopt a policy of referring cases to other relevant agencies, such as social services, where an allegation is made but cannot be proceeded with for evidential reasons."

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.

The scandal has plunged the BBC into crisis, and yesterday MP Sir Roger Gale, a former BBC journalist, suggested that bosses George Entwistle and Lord Patten may have to "fall on their swords" over the corporation's handling of the situation.

Their case will not be helped by allegations in The Sun that two more BBC employees are suspected of sex crimes on the same scale as Savile, and that information on them has been passed to the police.

The newspaper said the BBC would not disclose if the pair were still at the corporation.

It emerged on Tuesday that the BBC is investigating nine allegations of "sexual harassment, assault or inappropriate conduct" among current staff and contributors.

Mr Entwistle, who took over as director general last month, was roundly criticised for his appearance before the Culture, Media and Sport select committee on Tuesday, when he was told to "get a grip" on his organisation.

Committee chairman John Whittingdale said Mr Entwistle "left questions unanswered" and described some of his answers as "surprising".

Mr Entwistle told MPs that the "broader cultural problem" at the BBC allowed Savile's alleged behaviour to take place and conceded the corporation was slow to react to the emerging crisis.

He also expressed regret that Newsnight did not press ahead with the investigation last year that included interviews with some of the star's victims.

The programme's editor Peter Rippon has stepped aside after a Panorama inquiry prompted the BBC to say his explanation of why the show dropped its investigation was "inaccurate or incomplete".

Culture Secretary Maria Miller said Mr Entwistle's evidence to the select committee and the BBC's handling of the wider scandal raised "very real concerns" about public trust.

In a letter to Lord Patten, chairman of the BBC Trust, she said it was vital that the two inquiries were "able to follow the evidence wherever it takes them".

But Lord Patten's reply contained a thinly-veiled warning that the Government should not wade into the row.

"I know that you will not want to give any impression that you are questioning the independence of the BBC," he wrote.

Sir Roger, a former producer and director of current affairs programmes at the BBC, criticised his approach and said he was "out of touch".

He said: "Attack may be the best form of defence but in seeking to criticise a Culture Secretary who has not ever sought to challenge the independence of the BBC, he indicates how very little, within that corporate arrogance, has really changed."

He added: "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."

But senior BBC journalists called for restraint in the growing call for heads to roll.

World affairs editor John Simpson said the BBC made "a fearful mistake" in not broadcasting the Newsnight investigation, but warned against a "panic reaction".

He wrote in today's Spectator magazine: "We should find out what really happened in an atmosphere of calm and reflection, not thrash around looking for a scapegoat to punish for Savile's crimes. And above all, the BBC's top figures mustn't be stampeded into hasty resignation."

Political editor Nick Robinson, in his contribution to the magazine, said: "The reason I can still smile during this crisis in the corporation is that nothing I have seen suggests that Auntie is guilty of either of the charges that really matter: knowingly covering up sexual abuse or halting a journalistic inquiry to put out a tribute programme to a cheesy and sleazy celebrity. That is, as prime ministers in trouble like to say, the big picture."

Former BBC director general Mark Thompson also faces questions over whether he is the right person to take charge of the New York Times newspaper in the wake of the Jimmy Savile scandal.

In an interview with the Guardian newspaper Mr Thompson, who is due to become the paper's chief executive on November 12, said it was "totally reasonable for institutions like the New York Times and the BBC to be free to examine everything, including subjects of corporate interest in the institution itself".

The New York Times' editor had written that the newspaper must consider if Mr Thompson is right for the job, the Guardian said, a move the former director general said was "completely correct".

He also told the Guardian that it was the BBC's head of news, Helen Boaden, who told him there was nothing about Newsnight's investigation into Savile that should concern him.