Q&A: Jimmy Savile allegations

The fallout from the allegations of sexual assault by Sir Jimmy Savile continues to reverberate as more people come forward to claim the late DJ abused them. Most of the alleged victims say they were assaulted by Savile when they were in their early teens.


How many allegations of abuse by Savile are there?

The Metropolitan Police launched a “formal criminal investigation” into Savile’s alleged offences on 19 October.

Scotland Yard, which is co-ordinating the investigation, said it was following up 400 lines of inquiry, following complaints of abuse and sexual assault by the late entertainer. In total, more than 200 potential victims have been identified. Scotland Yard is also in contact with 14 other police forces.

Commander Peter Spindler, of the Met Police, said Savile’s pattern of offending behaviour appeared to be on “a national scale” and he had a “predilection for teenage girls”.

While the allegations mostly concern women, there have been two claims of abuse by men who say Savile assaulted them as young boys.

See also Jimmy Savile admits sexual advances

What timespan do the allegations cover?

Cdr Spindler says the allegations date from 1959. One of the earliest allegations is by a woman who was 14 in the 1960s, who has made a complaint against Savile to Lancashire police.

Police said the allegations date up to 2006.

When did the allegations come into the public eye?

ITV broadcast an investigation in Savile’s behaviour called Exposure, the Other Side of Jimmy Savile on 3 October 2012. In it, several women allege he sexually abused them when they were under age. This sparked a flurry of allegations in the following days from other alleged victims.

Were there previous allegations against Savile?

In 2007, Surrey police questioned Savile over allegations of child sex abuse in the 1970s. The matter was referred to the Crown Prosecution Service, which advised there was insufficient evidence to take further action.

In 2008, Sussex police received a complaint of sexual assault against Savile which allegedly took place in Worthing in 1970. But police later said the victim was “unwilling to co-operate in any investigation”.

Savile was also named, although not publicly, during a 2008 police investigation into abuse at Haut de Garenne children’s home in Jersey.

In December 2011 a six-week BBC Newsnight investigation, into claims that the police and Crown Prosecution Service had shelved inquiries into abuse allegations against Jimmy Savile, was dropped.

What institutions have been called into question?

The BBC has been criticised for not calling Savile’s behaviour into question and flagging up any abuse allegations during his long career at the corporation, during which he presented several television shows including Jim’ll Fix It.

And the BBC has also been criticised by MPs over the scandal, with Labour’s deputy leader Harriet Harman saying the claims about Savile “cast a stain” on the corporation.

BBC director general George Entwistle is to appear before MPs to answer questions on the scandal.

The Department of Health has said it will investigate its own conduct in appointing Savile to lead a “taskforce” overseeing the management of high security psychiatric hospital Broadmoor in 1998. It comes after the Sun newspaper said Savile assaulted a 17-year-old patient during a visit as a hospital fundraiser in the 1970s.

Abuse is also alleged to have taken place at Stoke Mandeville hospital and Leeds General Infirmary, where Savile volunteered. Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust said it would help police if asked to do so.

The BBC has learned that some of the women making abuse claims may seek compensation from the BBC and from Stoke Mandeville Hospital.

See also Savile – Broadmoor & Necrophilia

What is the BBC doing?

Mr Entwistle apologised on Radio 4’s Today programme to the women involved. He has also announced the launching of two inquiries surrounding the sex abuse claims made against Savile.

The first is into why a BBC Newsnight investigation into Savile was shelved last year and is under way, led by the former head of Sky News, Nick Pollard.

The other investigation will be into whether culture and practice at the BBC at the time enabled Savile to carry out the sexual abuse of children. This will be on hold until the police give the go-ahead and will be led by former Appeal Court judge Dame Janet Smith.

Both inquiries have been commissioned by the BBC Executive Board.

Mr Entwistle also announced a third strand to the inquiries which will relate to sexual harassment at the BBC.

And the BBC’s director general has asked BBC Scotland director Ken MacQuarrie to talk to Newsnight journalists about their concerns over the dropping of the programme’s planned investigation into Savile.

The discussion will be fed back to the BBC Trust chairman, Lord Patten. The corporation has always said the decision to drop the film was taken for “editorial reasons”.

Newsnight’s editor Peter Rippon has argued that for his programme the story would have been much stronger if it could have shown some institutional failure by the police in investigating Savile – which Newsnight had failed to do.

He stepped aside from his post on 22 October while the BBC reviews its response to the Savile abuse claims.

Also, the BBC’s Panorama has investigated the dropped Newsnight broadcast.

On 5 October 2012, Mr Entwistle wrote to staff about the controversy, stating: “The BBC Newsnight programme investigated Surrey Police’s inquiry into Jimmy Savile towards the end of 2011.”

But Panorama features an interview with Newsnight journalist Meirion Jones, who said he had contacted Mr Entwistle following his staff letter, to say the investigation had actually been into whether or not Savile was apaedophile.

The BBC’s Radio 4 Media Show presenter, Steve Hewlett, said the way the organisation had explained its reasons for dropping the Newsnight report were at best partial and arguably misleading – and had fuelled suspicion about corporate influence in the decision.

How has Savile’s legacy been affected?

Various affiliations and commemorations to Savile’s memory have now been removed, following the flood of abuse allegations.

A footpath sign in Scarborough commemorating Savile, who often stayed in the seaside town, was taken down by the borough council.

A plaque outside his former flat there was also removed after the words “rapist” and “paedophile” were written on it.

Leeds City Council took Savile’s name off an inscription on a wall commemorating high profile citizens at the city’s Civic Hall, and the owners of a conference centre in Leeds named after the former star announced it would be rebranded “out of respect” for public opinion.

A Stoke Mandeville Hospital cafe called “Jimmy’s” in honour of Savile could be renamed, according to volunteering charity WRVS. The cafe for visitors and patients was opened by Savile in 2005 in recognition of his fundraising for the spinal injuries unit.

Even a triple headstone marking Savile’s grave in Scarborough’s Woodlands Cemetery, which was only installed in September, has been destroyed according to his family’s wishes.

Alec Shelbrooke, Conservative MP for Elmet and Rothwell, has called for further action.

“If he’s found guilty, I believe he should be moved to an anonymous burial site, that all references to him on the streets should be removed, that the charitable trust should be moved into other trusts so that the money can go to good causes,” he said.

Could Savile lose his knighthood over abuse claims?

Sir Jimmy was awarded the OBE in 1971, and received his knighthood from the Queen in 1996.

However, the Cabinet Office says there are no legal arrangements in place to remove honours posthumously.

Part of the reason is that an OBE or a knighthood expires when a person dies, and it is highly unusual for there to be calls for a recipient to be stripped of their honour after they have died.

However, a Cabinet Office spokesman said it was possible that as a result of Savile’s case that the Honours Forfeiture Committee – which decides whether knighthoods should be taken away – might reconsider the rules.

Is anyone else being drawn into the scandal?

Revelations of alleged abuse committed by Savile have prompted claims about other public figures – most stemming from the ’70s and ’80s when attitudes towards sexual abuse were different, compared to today.

Broadcasters Liz Kershaw and Sandi Toksvig have spoken of being groped on air by male colleagues, and former Radio 1 DJ Dave Lee Travis has said he “totally refutes” accusations that he touched two women inappropriately. The BBC is considering changing the name of the John Peel wing at New Broadcasting House in London, after claims that the veteran DJ – who died in 2004 – made a 15-year-old pregnant.