Savile inquiry leads to Stoke Mandeville Hospital

Police now investigating 120 leads across UK - including claims about flat at renowned hospital

A free flat at Stoke Mandeville Hospital used by Sir Jimmy Savile has become part of a fast-expanding police sex-abuse inquiry into allegations the former presenter was behind up to 25 attacks over four decades, The Independent can reveal.

Scotland Yard said the inquiry was of a "national scale" as it emerged that the force had already recorded two allegations of rape and six of indecent assault against the presenter, who died last year at the age of 84.

The claims date back to 1959 and information received by the inquiry team working on Operation Yewtree suggested he had a "predilection" for girls aged 13 to 16. Most of the allegations date back to the 1970s and 80s. Officers are following up 120 lines of inquiry after claims made in an ITV documentary.

Yesterday, it emerged that Savile's family is to remove his headstone from his grave in Scarborough, North Yorkshire. In a statement they said: "Out of respect to public opinion, to those who are buried there and to those who tend their graves and visit there, we have decided to remove it." Police are speaking with two hospitals, Leeds General Infirmary and Stoke Mandeville, to examine if Savile abused patients there as well as in his dressing room at the BBC. The Buckinghamshire hospital confirmed that a flat was put at Savile's disposal while he was helping raise millions of pounds to rebuild the National Spinal Injuries Centre.

In a statement, Buckinghamshire Healthcare said it was "unaware of any record or reports of inappropriate behaviour of this nature during Sir Jimmy Savile's work with the Trust."

A hospital spokesman declared the hospital would "work 100 per cent" with a police investigation, which will seek to find what – if anything – was known or reported about Savile's conduct. Last year, after Savile's death, the hospital's senior manager David Griffiths said the star had raised more than £40m for the unit.

A spokesman for Leeds Teaching Hospitals said it did not have any record of complaints about his behaviour while he supported the hospital.

The hospitals bring to five the institutions under scrutiny after the surge of allegations against Savile. He was also questioned in 2007 about child-abuse allegations at a children's home in Surrey in the 1970s and linked with an abuse scandal in Jersey.

The claims have led to allegations against other figures from the entertainment industry during the same period, including convicted paedophile Gary Glitter.

Commander Peter Spindler, head of specialist crime investigations at Scotland Yard, said that police would only start investigations into individuals who were still alive if they received evidence from witness statements.

"The reality is this really has captured the public's mind," he said. "We are getting calls from victims, from witnesses and third parties who believe they know something about it.

"We have formally recorded eight criminal allegations against Savile. Two of those are rape, six of indecent assault. These are primarily against girls in their mid-teens, so between 13 and 16, and it spans four decades."

Starr: Police can clear me of sexual assault

The comedian Freddie Starr said he wanted police to investigate a claim that he sexually assaulted a girl of 14 in a BBC dressing room, while he was appearing on a TV show hosted by Sir Jimmy Savile in the 1970s, to prove his innocence.

Starr told ITV that fondling a girl was "not my style" and said: "If there's one thing I hate, close to my heart, it's paedophiles. To be accused like this is devastating. I've got to fight back."

The 69-year-old added: "We will get to the bottom of it. I want a police investigation … I want them to interview me."