'Savile assaulted me in his room at Stoke Mandeville'


Ian Burrell
Thursday 01 November 2012 01:00 GMT
Hidden scandal: Jimmy Savile, when he was made OBE in 1972
Hidden scandal: Jimmy Savile, when he was made OBE in 1972 (Getty Images)

Further allegations of sexual assault were made against Jimmy Savile last night, as yet more women came forward to say that they had been attacked by the former television star.

Debbie Curtis alleged that the disgraced presenter sexually assaulted her at his room in the nurses' quarters at Stoke Mandeville Hospital.

Speaking to ITV News, Ms Curtis said Savile invited her to his room for a coffee during a visit to see spinal patients when she was 22. She claimed he groped her, blocked the door despite her protests and she had to knee him in the groin to escape.

In a development that will raise further questions over the role of the hospital's management at the time, a former Director of Nursing and Patient Care said staff were afraid to challenge Savile over fears he would stop fundraising for them.

Christine McFarlane – who worked there in the 80s and 90s – told ITV News: "There was a fear of him taking something away. He argued that it was his and not theirs."

Another potential victim, a former patient at Broadmoor, told ITV News that she was put in solitary confinement after complaining that Savile had groped her.

The new allegations came as senior BBC journalists said they were "horrified" by the limited nature of an official inquiry into why a Newsnight investigation into Jimmy Savile was controversially dropped last year.

Sources inside the BBC claimed that Nick Pollard, the distinguished former head of Sky News who is conducting the review for the BBC, is "being held on a short leash" to limit criticism of the organisation. Newsnight journalists, including Jeremy Paxman and Kirsty Wark, have yet to be called for interview, 15 days after Mr Pollard was appointed to carry out his inquiry.

This has prompted concerns that the review will focus only on the decision to drop the Savile story and not on the "broader culture" in the BBC that may have led to the investigation being quashed.

It is understood that the inquiry is focused tightly on emails and conversations between Newsnight editor Peter Rippon and the two journalists who worked on the Savile investigation, Meirion Jones and Liz MacKean, and that these individuals will be interviewed by Mr Pollard.

One BBC insider said: "Pollard needs to get answers not just about any email trail about the [Savile] decision but about the culture created within the management team."

The BBC last night declined to comment on the scope of the Pollard review. An outline of the inquiry's procedures and timetable is expected to be released today. A spokesman for the BBC Trust said it had "every confidence" in the review. "We will keep in contact with the review team to ensure it is getting the resources and co-operation it requires," he added.

The Pollard Review

The former head of Sky News has been appointed to find out "whether there were any failings in the BBC's management of the Newsnight investigation relating to allegations of sexual abuse of children by Jimmy Savile, including the broadcast of tribute programmes on the BBC".

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