Why must you and I pay for Savile’s crimes?

No good can come from the slew of lawsuits and payouts sure to follow

Share

No sooner had the official verdict been pronounced on Jimmy Savile – one of the most prolific sexual predators, if not the most prolific sexual predator, of his time – than we had the unedifying spectacle of compensation lawyers rubbing their hands and the urgent sound of ringing tills.

It was predicted that the BBC, the NHS, Stoke Mandeville, Great Ormond Street and whichever other institutions might have been implicated would face demands for payouts running into millions of pounds.

Of course, Savile’s extracurricular activities were reprehensible, not to say illegal. Of course, he should have been brought to book in his lifetime. Of course, the hospitals, children’s homes and the good old BBC were wrong to give him such free rein. Of course, the police should have taken the (few) complaints seriously. Nor is it any justification to argue that these were more innocent times, or that those with the power to stop him were star-struck.

But what possible good can come of lawsuits and payouts? Those who will end up doing the paying receive their funds from the taxpayer, the licence-payer and charitable donors. Any money paid out by Stoke Mandeville or Great Ormond Street is money that can no longer benefit their patients. Any compensation agreed by the BBC is money no longer available for public broadcasting. Reduce it to the basics, and what is happening is that money which you and I pay – compulsorily or voluntarily – will be diverted from the common good to a few aggrieved individuals.

The person who should have done the paying, if there was any to be done, was Jimmy Savile. He is now dead, and his estate went to the charities he supported. Is it too much to ask those he damaged to regard this as their compensation and be content with that? What his victims ought to receive is a proper apology from  institutions that should have been more vigilant. But the reason all the apologies thus far have been so mealy-mouthed is the fear that admission of fault will precipitate massive payments. This is a vicious circle that goes the wrong way round. 

Something similar applies to hospitals generally. No one would question the duty of a hospital that makes a mistake – and hospitals do make catastrophic mistakes – to compensate those they have injured. But why, as appears to be happening in the wake of scandals such as that at the Mid-Staffordshire Hospital, do relatives of those who were mistreated and subsequently died apparently feel that compensation is due – not for the loss of a breadwinner (that would be obligatory), but for someone else’s suffering? Some will argue that unless institutions are made to feel the pain in their purse, they will have no incentive to mend their ways. But the money they are paying out in compensation is not their money. It is our money, and it should be used to treat the patients of today, not trying to salve the grief of yesterday’s bereaved.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Outbound Sales Executive - B2B

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A great opportunity has arisen ...

Recruitment Genius: Online Sales and Customer Services Associate

£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Full time and Part time positio...

Ashdown Group: IT Manager - Salesforce / Reports / CRM - North London - NfP

£45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and reputable Not for Profit o...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Ledger & Credit Control Assistant

£14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Ledger & Credit Control...

Day In a Page

Read Next
MP David Lammy would become the capital’s first black mayor if he won the 2016 Mayoral election  

Crime, punishment and morals: we’re entering a maze with no clear exit

Simon Kelner
 

The two most important parts of Obama’s legacy could be on the brink of collapse, and this time there's no back-up plan

David Usborne
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all