Why did nobody stop Savile?

Witnesses claim late TV presenter molested children at hospitals

Paul Peachey,Ian Herbert
Friday 12 October 2012 16:15
Jimmy Savile volunteering as a hospital porter in 1970
Jimmy Savile volunteering as a hospital porter in 1970

The Jimmy Savile child sex abuse inquiry was expanding last night into a wider scandal enveloping the public sector as new witnesses came forward to claim that the late presenter molested children at hospitals with the apparent knowledge of staff.

An MP demanded an independent inquiry as fresh allegations about Savile raised questions for three hospitals, the BBC, the Crown Prosecution Service and the police about the extent of their knowledge of historic child sex abuse claims. The three hospitals – Stoke Mandeville, Leeds General Infirmary, and Broadmoor – all said that they had not received complaints about Savile until after the screening last week of the ITV documentary that interviewed victims.

Stoke Mandeville Hospital faced demands for an independent public inquiry following claims that staff encouraged child patients to pretend to be asleep before Savile made his ward rounds because of fears that he could molest them.

The Conservative MP Rob Wilson said he had received a raft of new allegations, including suggestions that hospital chaplains mentioned Savile's "scandalous" behaviour 25 years ago. Questions have been raised that management at several hospitals turned a blind eye to his activities because of his prolific fundraising efforts.

It emerged yesterday that Jimmy Savile and his charity fundraisers were given their own room at Stoke Mandeville Hospital until he died last year at the age of 84.

However, in a letter to the hospital, Mr Wilson said there were claims that management and nurses were aware of suspicions about his behaviour and "little meaningful action was taken to protect the extremely vulnerable children and young people at the hospital from such horrific behaviour.

"We can now see evidence developing that not just the BBC is involved in this – we now have parts of the NHS, the Crown Prosecution Service and some are even suggesting the police have some questions to answer," Mr Wilson told BBC Radio 4.

He called for an independent inquiry at the hospital. "Who knew girls were being abused? When did they know? Who did they tell? Why wasn't it recorded? Did bosses fail to act because of concern over charity money that was coming in?"

In a statement, the Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust, which runs the hospital, said: "At this stage in the proceedings it would not be appropriate for us to conduct our own internal investigation. However we have been contacted by the police this week and are supporting them fully with their inquiries. If their findings suggest that we do need to take further action then we will do so."

Scotland Yard said earlier this week that its inquiry into Savile was on a "national scale" and it had recorded two allegations of rape and six of indecent assault with the number of victims expected to rise to around 30.

The allegations dated back to 1959 and information already received by the inquiry team working on Operation Yewtree suggested that he had a "predilection" for girls aged 13 to 16. Ten police forces have now received allegations of abuse.

Action could be taken against other celebrities, fixers or procurers of girls for Savile if they remain alive, but the indications are that he operated alone. Witnesses have made allegations of abuse against Gary Glitter inside Savile's dressing room. The comedian Freddie Starr has said he will fight allegations that he tried to molest a girl there when she was aged 14.

The scandal promises further embarrassment for the Corporation after one of the ITV documentary makers said at the weekend that a BBC soap star had also been named during the making of the programme.

The BBC has announced that it will hold its own independent inquiry after the police investigation is concluded with a report expected by the end of next month.

A Newsnight team discovered 10 alleged victims of Savile but the project was shelved for "editorial reasons" according to the Corporation.

Savile was interviewed by police in 2007 over allegations of abuse at a now-closed Surrey school and a file was passed to the CPS but no charges were laid against him. It also emerged that Savile's name was mentioned during an inquiry into abuse at the Haut de la Garenne children's home in Jersey, but he was never questioned.

Scenes of abuse? Claims against Savile

Stoke Mandeville

Savile had a flat at the hospital for which he raised more than £40m. Claims emerged yesterday that he molested patients despite the hospital authorities saying they had not previously received any reports of abuse. Nurses are reported to have told children to pretend to be asleep when he toured the wards. Caroline Moore claimed she was assaulted by Savile when she was 13 while she was being treated for spinal injuries. "I was outside a ward or a gym and he came out and just rammed his tongue down my throat," Mrs Moore told BBC Radio Scotland.

The hospital confirmed yesterday that Savile was given a room at the hospital until his death last year.


A woman claimed she saw Savile and the convicted paedophile Gary Glitter both sexually abuse under-age girls in his dressing room at BBC Television Centre. Karin Ward, who spoke to an ITV documentary team, first gave her account to BBC Newsnight but the feature was pulled for "editorial reasons". Lord Patten, chairman of the BBC Trust, promised an independent inquiry.

Leeds General Infirmary

Savile had a lifelong association with the hospital where he was a volunteer fund-raiser and worked as a porter. The hospital said it had received two complaints since the allegations first came to light. June Thornton, a patient in 1972, said she saw Savile abuse someone she thought was a brain-damaged girl. "He started rubbing his hands down her arms and then… he molested her. He helped himself. She just sat there and couldn't do anything about it," she told ITV News.


Savile was accused of assaulting young patients inside his mobile home in the grounds of Broadmoor Hospital where he worked as a volunteer. A former patient told The Sun that Savile groped her while she was watching television with other girls in the late 1960s. The woman, Alison Pink, now known as Steven after a sex-change operation, told the newspaper: "We were all big fans of Top Of The Pops... When you were told to clean Jimmy's caravan you knew you didn't need to take a dustpan and brush."

A spokesman for West London Mental Health NHS Trust, which has run the hospital since 2001, said: "There has never been any complaint to management in the last 11 years."

Duncroft Approved School, Staines

Savile was questioned by police in 2007 over allegations of child abuse in the 1970s at the now-closed school for girls. A file was passed to the Crown Prosecution Service which advised there was insufficient evidence to take any further action.

Haut de la Garenne children's home, Jersey

The police officer at the head of the Jersey child abuse allegation said he suspected Savile was involved in the abuse scandal there, but there were no allegations made against him. A handful of residents have now made allegations against Savile.

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