Unless you’ve been living under a rock you’ve probably heard about the documentary that aired on Wednesday on ITV. The program made numerous allegations that Jimmy Savile abused underage girls over a number of years. I haven’t actually seen the documentary myself yet (it’s been put on Sky+) but 5 women appeared on the show claiming to have been abused by Jimmy Savile whilst they were teenagers. The Police have also announced yesterday that they will be “looking into” the allegations but stressed it was not yet a formal investigation.
This is a tricky case, Jimmy Savile died last year so obviously bringing a prosecution against him would be impossible. I mean they could have a go I suppose but it might be awkward to get a defence out of him. The case would most likely be a waste of money considering no outcome against Savile would be possible, assuming he was found guilty.
Historic rape and molestation charges are notoriously hard to prove. The lack of any DNA evidence makes it a ‘their word against his’ scenario and like I already mentioned, Savile is unable to defend himself. What an investigation might discover is whether there was any type of cover up at the BBC during the period Savile was working there. Assuming these people were guilty and still alive it may be in the public interest to pursue this.
The case is confusing to me as it isn’t clear who exactly knew what and when. It has emerged that there were “open rumours” at the BBC that Savile may have been behaving in this way. Douglas Muggeridge the former BBC radio 1 controller apparently looked into whether newspapers were investigating the allegations back in the 1970’s. Obviously there was never such a story but the fact that it was discussed at the BBC to me is telling. In terms of the BBC there is also the ditched Newsnight investigation from last year to consider. Of course this may all be perfectly innocent in that no one thought the allegations had legs. We don’t know what was in the mind of those in the know at the BBC but to me it’s worth investigating.
Back in 2007 the Police interviewed Savile under caution about an attack on a girl in the 1970’s. The CPS apparently told the Police that there was insufficient evidence to prosecute, this goes back to what I mentioned before about the difficulty of proving anything in these cases without DNA. His age and health may also have been a factor in the prosecutor’s decision, although I’m guessing with my lawyer head on there.
Of course at the moment he is still Sir Jimmy Savile. These allegations do leave a sour taste in the mouth in relation to his knighthood. The allegations are still unproven but there is president for removing knighthoods after new evidence has emerged. Fred Goodwin leaps to mind here. The former RBS boss was stripped of his knighthood by the Queen in January.
So should the Police investigate? That was the question I posed in my title so I guess I should at least attempt to answer it. Sort of yes is the answer. Nice and clear conclusions are what we go for on OHO. If there is clear evidence of a cover up then I believe the Police would be fully justified in investigating. In terms of Savile himself it’s too late unfortunately, even if he was alive these allegations are difficult to prove. Whether anything comes of this case remains to be seen, it may be that everyone talks about it for a couple of weeks and it all goes away. But this does raise concerns about the behaviour of stars in the 1960-70’s. I have a feeling this may have opened a can of worms.
By Jack Troup