Jimmy Savile escaped convictions for three sex assaults in the 1970s after his victims refused to give evidence in court after mistakenly believing they were lone voices against the high-profile entertainer.
One victim claimed that a detective told her that Savile’s lawyers would make “mincemeat” of her in a “big court in London” if the case ever went ahead.
An experienced rape specialist prosecutor failed to build a case against Savile even though there were “relatively strong” chances of prosecution if the women could be persuaded to give evidence, the official review into police and prosecution failings has found.
Police treated the victims and the accounts they gave “with a degree of caution which was neither justified nor required,” said Alison Levitt QC, who produced the report.
None of them were told that other women had come forward with allegations, which would have increased the chances of some of them giving evidence, the report found.
A woman sexually assaulted in Savile’s caravan was dissuaded by police from pursuing her allegation, said Ms Levitt. The woman, named only as Ms A, got the impression from police that she would be publicly branded a liar and her name would be all over the papers, particularly if she lost the case.
She was attacked after Savile’s chauffeur arrived unannounced in a Rolls-Royce at her house in 1970 after she wrote to him suggesting Savile could stay at her mother’s bed and breakfast.
Ms Levitt, a legal adviser to the Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer, found that all three of those cases could have been prosecuted.
A fourth case, when a teenage girl said Savile demanded she perform a sex act on him at Duncroft school, was correctly not pursued to prosecution, though for the wrong reasons, said Ms Levitt.
Mr Starmer today apologised for the failures of the prosecution, and ordered an overhaul of the way such cases were conducted.
“If this report and my apology are to serve their full purpose, then this must be seen as a watershed moment,” he said.
The 128-page inquiry report released today exposed failures during a slow-moving police inquiry, flawed decision making and errors in transcripts.
Detectives knew but failed to act
Surrey police investigated after a witness at Duncroft reported seeing Savile put a 14-year-old girl’s hand on his crotch. The victim corroborated the story but the case was not pursued.
Sussex police investigated the assault of “Ms A” in Savile’s caravan in 1970. “I’d like to lock you up in a cupboard and you’d be with me all the time,” Savile is said to have told her. She reported the attack in 2008.
A 14-year-old member of a girls’ choir told police that Savile kissed her on the lips and put his tongue inside her mouth after she performed at Stoke Mandeville Hospital.