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Savile police operation has 'gone too far', says former BBC producer


A former BBC producer released without charge yesterday after being arrested by detectives investigating the Jimmy Savile abuse scandal said the police operation had "gone too far".

Wilfred De'ath was one of 11 people arrested so far under Operation Yewtree, a national probe prompted by allegations that emerged against Savile, but the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said yesterday that there was not enough evidence to charge him.

Mr De'ath, who has always denied any wrongdoing, said he believed that police were over-compensating now because they failed to get Savile at the time and claimed Operation Yewtree was "getting silly".

"My general comment would be that Operation Yewtree has gone too far," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"As Jim Davidson says it is getting silly now. It really is getting silly."

He said today that he was "pretty disgusted" he had not done more to tackle Savile at the time but admitted he would never have dreamed of "grassing him up", despite confronting him over his behaviour.

Pressed about a previous admission that he had challenged Savile about spending the night with a girl who was possibly as young as 10 years old, he said: "I confronted him on the evening of transmission, I did say that to him, I said 'I think you are living dangerously'. He said 'oh, no, no, no' and he just brushed me off.

"I keep saying this but the culture in those days was so different, it would never have occurred to me to go to the head of the department.

"I was pretty shocked and disgusted. I, at that time, was a happily married man with my wife and daughter in Hampstead and I was pretty shocked and appalled."

Mr De'ath said: "It was a different culture in the mid sixties. Sexual matters were taken much more lightly, there wasn't the sensitivity that there is now."

He said he was "physically frightened of Savile" adding: ""I have to be honest and say I wouldn't have dreamed of going and grassing him up."

"I do slightly regret it but then it was common talk in the corridors of Broadcasting House. It was common talk that he liked young girls."

He added: "I am pretty disgusted, if I am honest with myself I am full of self loathing that I didn't do anything about it at the time."

Mr De'ath, who is in his 70s, was arrested in Cambridgeshire on November 11.

He said police burst into his flat and told him an actress had alleged he sexually assaulted her in 1965.

Mr De'ath said he understood the police had been "only doing their job" but he believed they were "over zealous".

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "They failed miserably, you have to admit that, they failed lamentably in the case of Jimmy Savile. They failed to get him when they could have got him.

"It seems to me they are kind of over, I think you know what I am trying to say, they have gone too far the other way now and they are arresting people on rather spurious allegations."

Allegations against a number of people linked to the entertainment industry emerged after publicity surrounding claims about disgraced television presenter Savile.

Other suspects arrested under Operation Yewtree include pop star Gary Glitter and comedians Freddie Starr and Jim Davidson.

They all deny any wrongdoing.