Nick Clegg: BBC and possibly police must have known about Jimmy Savile sex abuse

Deputy Prime Minister says: 'There must have been just so many people who knew what was going on in hospitals, the BBC, maybe in the police.'

Nick Clegg today questioned how allegations of sexual abuse by Jimmy Savile had remained hidden for so long.

The Deputy Prime Minister said: “I have been thinking about this a lot because I just cannot understand how this remained hidden for so long...There must have been just so many people who knew what was going on in hospitals, the BBC, maybe in the police.”

“I just keep asking myself why did this remain buried for so long. The only explanation I can come up with is what we are seeing is the dark side of the culture of celebrity, and actually in this case it wasn't a culture of celebrity it was the cult of celebrity,” he added.

In the interview with Radio Five Live, Mr Clegg went on: “I get the impression people felt that with all that glitter and shine there can't be a dark side, there can't be a seedy side.

”We need to teach our kids, because there is such a celebrity culture at the moment, that however rich you are, however famous you are, however glamorous you are, everyone has to live by the same rules.“

Mr Clegg's comments come after fresh claims were made that Savile was banned from visiting a council-run children's home after he molested a 12-year-old girl.

A woman said he was told to leave the care home in his home city of Leeds after staff found him in a bedroom with the girl in the 1970s.

The woman, who does not want to be identified, told BBC Radio Leeds the girl was indecently touched by the former DJ but that a social worker advised her not to report it to the police.

Leeds Safeguarding Children Board said it had not received any complaints about Savile but encouraged anyone with concerns to report them.

The witness said that the woman in charge of the home, who seemed “uncomfortable” with Savile visiting, “ran upstairs and found him” when she realised he had taken the girl into a bedroom.

She said: “You could hear it - there were raised voices from the staffroom and then she just ran upstairs.

”A social worker came down and basically he came back the next day and said it would be his word against Jimmy Savile and it would be unfair to put a girl through the procedure of a police investigation that probably will end in nothing and ruin a man's career.“

Jane Held, independent chair of Leeds Safeguarding Children Board, said: ”The Leeds Safeguarding Children Board shares the concerns being expressed nationally about what has come to light recently.

“We have not, to the best of our knowledge, received any complaints or allegations about Jimmy Savile, but if any now come to light we will co-operate fully with any police investigation.

”Once any police investigation is completed we will conduct a rigorous review with all our partners of any information relating to Leeds residents.

“We would encourage anyone who has got information or concerns to report them.”

North Yorkshire Police said it had received a second complaint in connection with the Savile inquiry.

A spokesman said a woman, now living in the Durham area, reported that a teenage girl was the victim of a sexual offence in Scarborough in the late 1960s.

The force said it had referred the matter to the Metropolitan Police Service.+

A solicitor said today she had had heard from victims of Savile's alleged abuse who were interested in pursuing either the BBC or Stoke Mandeville hospital for compensation.

Liz Dux told BBC Radio 4's The World At One that the BBC and the hospital had a duty of care to anyone who came into contact with Savile when he was representing their respective organisations.

“It would be against the BBC or the hospital because they would be held vicariously liable in law for the acts of someone like Savile who was acting as their agent,” she said.

It is not clear how many women are looking at the potential for civil action, but Ms Dux said they were not interested in the financial benefits, which could run into the tens or even hundreds of thousands of pounds.

“They want some form of recognition as to what has happened to them in the past,” she said.

“They want to be taken seriously, they are not interested in the financial compensation at all. They just want the cathartic process of going through and telling someone what they have been through and someone believing them for a change.”

She said the stories she had heard were “all very similar” and “sounded very credible”. She added: “I would say these cases have good prospects of succeeding.”

Earlier, an old friend of Jimmy Savile who worked with him to raise funds for Stoke Mandeville Hospital in the 1970s said today she was saddened by allegations of sexual abuse against him but never saw him do anything “inappropriate”.

Sylvia Nicol told Daybreak: “I am very sad, I don't like it, it takes away 40 years of very happy, very good memories.

”Knowledge of all the good Jimmy did, because from the time he came to Stoke Mandeville I only saw him do good.“

But Caroline Moore has claimed she was assaulted by Savile at the age of 13 while being treated for spinal injuries at the Buckinghamshire hospital in 1971.

Nurses at the hospital are also understood to have dreaded Savile's visits because of his behaviour and would tell children to stay in bed and pretend to be asleep when he came round.

Mrs Moore, from Clarkston in East Renfrewshire, told BBC Radio Scotland: ”I was outside a ward or a gym and he came out and just rammed his tongue down my throat.

“I told my family at the time. They didn't take it seriously because he was such a high-profile character.”

Police believe Savile could have abused as many as 25 victims over a period of 40 years, and have so far formally recorded a number of criminal allegations against him including rape and indecent assault.

Greater Manchester, Lancashire, North Yorkshire and Tayside are the latest forces to say allegations have been made.

A woman told Greater Manchester Police of a sexual relationship she had with Savile from the age of 15, while a second said she was groped by him in Salford when she was under 16.

Another woman told Tayside Police she was targeted in the Liverpool area, an alleged victim told North Yorkshire Police she was preyed on by Savile in Scarborough in the 1980s, and two women complained to Lancashire Police about incidents when one was 14, in the 1960s, and the other 15, in the 1980s.

June Thornton, a patient at Leeds General Infirmary in 1972, said she saw Savile abuse someone she thought was a brain-damaged girl.

Ms Thornton said that when she told a nurse about the abuse, she was ignored.

“I thought he was a visitor coming to see her. He started rubbing his hands down her arms and then, I don't know of a nice way to put it, but he molested her. He helped himself. She just sat there and couldn't do anything about it,” she told ITV News.

Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust, which runs Stoke Mandeville, and Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust said they were helping police with their investigations.

The raft of allegations against Savile has been branded a “cesspit” by BBC Trust chairman Lord Patten who pledged to hold an independent inquiry as swiftly as possible after the police investigation.

It emerged last night that BBC director-general George Entwistle has asked a senior colleague to answer journalists' questions on the dropping of a documentary about Savile.

Ken MacQuarrie, director of BBC Scotland, will speak to Newsnight journalists about the aborted broadcast after several of them wrote to Mr Entwistle to ask why the film was not aired.

The BBC's reputation is increasingly under fire after an avalanche of allegations that the corporation was aware of claims about Savile's actions, but did nothing about them.

David Nicolson, who worked as a director on Jim'll Fix It, claimed to have caught Savile having sex with a girl in his dressing room, but was laughed away when he voiced his concerns, The Sun said.

Grant Shapps, chairman of the Conservative Party, told BBC1's Question Time last night that it “seems unimaginable” that people at the BBC were unaware of the child abuse allegations.

He said: “What happened now appears to be outrageous. It's particularly disturbing that a programme paying tribute, a three-parter, went out just last Christmas after it was already known at senior levels within the BBC that something was wrong, enough to have had a serious Newsnight programme made about it and enough to raise serious concerns.

”I do think there are definitely questions that do need answering.“

Mr Nicolson told The Sun he caught Savile having sex with a ”very, very young“ girl in his dressing room.

”It was a bog standard changing room in the basement. They both quickly pulled up their pants. The girl could have been 16, maybe 15. But she was just one of many - he always had one in the room.“

When he reported the incident, he said he was told: ”That's Jimmy. I was revolted by his behaviour. They just shrugged it off, saying 'Yeah, yeah - that's the way it goes'.“

He added: ”Everyone knew what was going on. That includes senior BBC people - chiefs at the highest levels.“

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