As a result of the Savile furore some have claimed that it has encouraged a 'witch hunt' against aging public figures such as Lord Bramall, Leon Brittain, Cliff Richard, Paul Gambaccini, Jimmy Tarbuck, William Roache and Jim Davidson, by fantasists and compensation seekers. Others claim that the Savile publicity has brought the issue of child sexual abuse out into the open when it had previously been covered up to protect institutions and the powerful and influential in society. This post attempts to shed some light on this subject and to discover if there is an agenda seeking to exploit and denigrate Jimmy Savile's reputation, and if so what its purpose might be.
The story began in the 1970s when a young boy, Meirion Jones, witnessed visits of Jimmy Savile to Duncroft School in Staines, Surrey. The boy’s aunt, Margaret Jones, was the headmistress of this approved school. At the time of Savile’s death Meirion Jones was a producer with the BBC Newsnight current affairs TV programme. For some years he had been in contact with former Duncroft pupils on the Friends Reunited website where he had picked up on chatter that Savile had sexually assaulted Duncroft girls during his visits. For some time he had wanted to expose what he considered to be the darker side of Savile, and within a few days of his death Jones was given the green light to put together an expose by Newsnight editor Peter Rippon.
Newsnight does not normally deal in celebrity revelations, but on this occasion Peter Rippon was persuaded that there was a public policy interest, as the former Duncroft pupils were claiming that Surrey Police had refused to investigate their claims of sexual assault because Savile was 'too old and infirm.' One of the former pupils, known as Karin, was prepared to go on air with detailed revelations about how she had been sexually assaulted by Savile. Karin had already published an e-book which included veiled accusations against Savile. Peter Rippon was looking for corroboration from other Duncroft pupils (the BBC contacted 60 former pupils for evidence), but he was more concerned about getting confirmation that the police had ended their investigation because Savile was too old to be prosecuted.
Eventually Surrey Police revealed that they had investigated the allegations against Savile but no further action was taken because the CPS had concluded that there was insufficient evidence to prosecute. (It was subsequently discovered that the 'too old and infirm' police letter was a forgery). On hearing this Peter Rippon decided that there was no longer any justification for going ahead with the expose. He also had some concerns about the credibility of Karin, and the apparent collusion between ex-Duncroft pupils on Friends Reunited. Meirion Jones strongly disagreed with this decision believing that Karin was a sufficiently credible witness to justify broadcasting her allegations. However, the decision of Peter Rippon prevailed and the Newsnight Savile feature was shelved.
The Surrey Police investigation took place during the 2007-9 period and covered three allegations. The first was that Savile had forced a Duncroft pupil to place her hand on his groin in the TV room, the second that Savile had kissed a choir girl visiting Stoke Mandeville hospital and put his tongue in her mouth, and the third that Savile had engaged in sexual activity with a pupil in a building known as Norman Lodge located in the grounds of Duncroft. Savile denied all the allegations. In the case of the Norman Lodge incident the police accepted that even if the allegation was true the girl was over 16 and the activity was consensual so no offence had been committed. Savile however said that he had never set foot in Norman Lodge and was unaware of its existence. The choir girl at Stoke Mandeville was the sister of one of the Duncroft girls. She refused to co-operate with the police investigation. Savile denied that the incident had ever taken place pointing out that in any case such behaviour would be reckless with so many witnesses. With regard to the TV room allegation Savile denied that this had ever happened, again pointing out that it would also have been impossible with so many witnesses present. The complainant in this case was not the ex-pupil alleged to have been the victim, who did not want any police action, but instead another ex-Duncroft pupil who claimed to have witnessed the event. Margaret Jones, the headmistress at the time confirmed that neither she, nor any of her staff, had received any complaints about Savile arising from his visits. Ten former Duncroft residents were also contacted by Surrey police but none witnessed anything untoward during his visits. Savile was interviewed under caution about the allegations by two police officers. In the interview he is confident and relaxed, stating he had nothing to hide, fully co-operating with the officers, and repeatedly claiming that it would have been impossible to carry out the acts he was accused of as there were always many other people present. Any reasonable and objective observer would conclude that Savile comes across as credible and truthful in this interview. The CPS was clearly correct in concluding that there was insufficient evidence to back up the allegations.
During the assembly of the Newsnight feature Meirion Jones hired as a consultant Mark Williams-Thomas, who promotes himself as a child protection expert. Williams-Thomas agreed with Meirion Jones that the allegations against Savile were credible and he set about gathering the material that would be shown in the ITV Exposure programme broadcast in October 2012. He was provided with details of the former Duncroft pupils and others who had contacted Meirion Jones. In the Exposure programme several witnesses made allegations against Savile, the most damaging to his reputation being Wilfred De’Ath, a former BBC producer, Sarah the Stoke Mandeville choir girl, Val and Angie from Top of the Pops, and two former Duncroft pupils, Fiona and Charlotte. Some others were featured (and their claims thoroughly debunked by Moor Larkin) but they were not witnesses to any criminal action and were probably only included to undermine the reputation of Savile and to blacken his name.
Exposure: The Other Side of Jimmy Savile was probably the most deceitful, dishonest and disreputable programme ever to have been broadcast by a mainstream TV company since, following extensive research on the Anna Raccoon, Moor Larkin and Rabbitaway blogs, the above witnesses appear to be voicing demonstrable fabrications or at best selective exaggerations. It is worth examining in detail how this programme was constructed and why, from beginning to end, it lacks any credibility or honesty.
The first defamatory witness was the former BBC producer Wilfred De’ath who claimed he met up with Savile in a Chinese restaurant in central London with a girl of about 12 years old who he had met at a recording of Top of the Pops the previous day. De’ath also claimed that he phoned Savile at The Mascot Hotel in London the following day and Savile volunteered the information that he was in bed with the same 12 year old girl. According to De’ath these events took place in 1965. However at that time Top of the Pops was recorded in Manchester, not London. Savile did appear on De’ath’s radio programme Teen Scene in 1965 but that was also recorded in Manchester. Although Jimmy Savile would have visited London at that time for his Radio Luxembourg radio show he would have had no occasion to meet up with De’ath who worked for the BBC.
The programme did fairly point out that De’ath had been imprisoned for fraud, so he was clearly not the most reliable of witnesses. De’ath came to the attention of Exposure through an item in The Oldie published in early 2012 in which he anonymously made the claims that were subsequently repeated in the Exposure programme. Given that it was clearly impossible for the incidents he described to have taken place the only conclusion that can be reached is that they are a complete invention on the part of De’ath. His deceit has been confirmed in the Smith report commissioned by the BBC to investigate the allegations against Savile.
We now come to the probably the most damming part of the Exposure programme, the testimony of Val and Angie. Val claimed to be 15 in 1969 when she was introduced to Savile and she met up with him several times during recordings of Top of the Pops, when she alleged they engaged in sexual activity in his dressing room and his camper van parked outside Kings Cross station. Val claimed that the relationship with Savile lasted until 1974, and that she became overawed by his celebrity status and through meeting many famous people. Angie claimed that she met Savile for the first time at Radio Luxembourg in 1968. She alleged that she had sexual intercourse with him when she was still 15 years old, and claimed to have been swept away by his celebrity status. To support her testimony viewers were shown a photo of Savile with a blurred out image of Angie outside Radio Luxembourg’s London office, plus other photos of Savile in indoor settings claimed to be from Angie’s 'private photos', together with an inscription on Savile’s biography allegedly given to her in 1974.
For some considerable time after the Exposure broadcast the investigative bloggers named above were of the opinion that Val and Angie were in all probability an invention of Mark Williams-Thomas, since there was no explanation as to how the producers had managed to discover them nearly 45 years after the events. Williams-Thomas declared that 'what I won’t do is give away exactly how I tracked down the women and witnesses because this would expose the very people I said I would protect'. In other words he refused point blank to provide evidence to anybody who might challenge their existence. The faces of Val and Angie are never shown, only back views after they had been provided with wigs. Their comments are voiced over. Both claim to have had a five year relationship with Savile, so it is highly improbable that this could have been kept a secret from their relatives, the supposed reason for the disguise. As teenagers it is difficult to believe that they would not have been eager to boast about their relationship with a national celebrity. It is also difficult to accept that, after such a length of time, both women would coincidently be so fearful to reveal their identities that they had to resort to wigs and a voiceover.
However, the BBC Smith report has provided the explanation as to how they were contacted. Williams-Thomas received their details from Louis Theroux, who recorded a programme about Savile a decade or so ago. They had written to Theroux to correct the impression that Savile did not have regular girlfriends and confirmed that neither of them experienced any abuse from Savile, making it clear that their relationships with him had been consensual and that they had stayed on friendly terms with him for some time afterwards. So the evidence of abusive liaisons they gave in the Exposure programme was at complete variance with what they were claiming in their unsolicited letter to Theroux in which they wished to put the record straight. The reason for the wigs and voiceover now becomes obvious, since their families would have known that they enjoyed an amicable relationship with Savile and that they were now telling the very opposite of the true state of affairs. Unfortunately, the Smith report fails to connect the testimony of Val and Angie to the inquiry with the two women who wrote to Theroux, but there can be no doubt that they are the same pair.
The next witness was Sarah, the choir girl who it was alleged that Savile put his tongue in her mouth when she approached him at Stoke Mandeville hospital in 1973. It is worth remembering that she is the sister of a former Duncroft pupil. It is most likely that she actually played no part in the programme since she had already refused to cooperate with the police. Her testimony was voiced over and the nature of the complaint would have been provided to Williams-Thomas by her Duncroft sister. In the programme Sarah said she wrote to Savile telling him that she was in a choir that would be performing at Stoke Mandeville hospital. She went on to claim that Savile phoned her at home several times to say he would be in the audience. After the show Sarah ran up to him as she was about to enter the coach for home to let him know that she was the girl who had written to him. Savile then put his tongue in her mouth which shocked her.
In the programme Sarah claimed that Savile’s telephone calls were evidence that he was grooming her. This must be a very strange form of 'grooming' since it overlooks the fact that it was Sarah who wrote to Savile in the first place and it was she who ran up to him at the coach. From her own account he appears not to have made any contact with her during the show. There was no mention in the programme that she was part of the Surrey police investigation and that she refused to co-operate with it. The details given to Surrey Police were very different to the account on Exposure, there being no reference to Savile ringing her home or her writing to him. It must be concluded that the inclusion of this witness was an attempt to mislead the viewers. There was also a failure to mention that Savile had denied this allegation when interviewed by Surrey Police.
The final witnesses were two former Duncroft pupils Fiona and Charlotte who both appeared as themselves without disguise. Charlotte claimed that Savile assaulted her in his caravan during the recording of a radio show. However, such an assault would have taken place in front of the producer and sound engineer, together with the two teachers who were supposed to have pulled Charlotte outside the caravan after she complained, plus several other pupils who were also described as being present. She then claims to have been placed in an isolation unit for 'two or three days'. There is nothing in the school records to confirm this and such action would have been contrary to the school’s policy on isolation which in any case required approval by the headmistress and agreement from the school’s psychiatrist. Margaret Jones, the headmistress, denies any knowledge of this event. Moreover, there was no reference in the Smith report to this incident which, if it had genuinely occurred, could only have been recorded as part of the BBC radio programme Savile's Travels.
Fiona alleged that at the age of 14 Savile carried out various sex acts in the back of his Rolls-Royce in a car park whilst the other girls were sitting at tables having a picnic. She claims that she would never have been believed despite several other girls being in the vicinity who could act as witnesses. Fiona goes on to claim that Savile assaulted her in a dressing room at BBC Television Centre after the recording of the Clunk-Click TV programme. This appears impossible as Duncroft pupils were always accompanied and strictly supervised by a member of staff during visits to the show, and according to reports the programme was actually recorded at the BBC Theatre in Shepherds Bush. Interestingly, there is no reference to this incident in the Smith report.
However Fiona could not have been at Duncroft in April 1974 when Clunk Click was last broadcast. During the Exposure programme there is a shot of Savile, Fiona and another girl in a photo in Fiona’s photograph album. This photo later appeared in the Daily Mail described as 'Duncroft summer fete June 1979'. No girl was ever at Duncroft for five years until they reached 19, so Fiona’s visits to Clunk Click must be fiction. There is also a glimpse of a photo of Fiona in the album from 1974 as a pupil of Holt school. It should be remembered that neither Fiona nor Charlotte made their allegations to the police when Savile was alive despite being contacted by Surrey police during their investigation. Moreover, they never raised the matter with school staff at the time, and neither were willing to appear on BBC Newsnight to corroborate Karin’s testimony. The conclusion can only be reached that the testimonies of Fiona and Charlotte appear to be fabrications, probably scripted from beginning to end, with the sole intention of destroying the reputation of Jimmy Savile.
Despite all the falsehoods the programme created a sensation when broadcast. Not a single journalist from the mainstream media questioned the veracity of the allegations, taking them on trust, probably due to the involvement of the police and the support of the NSPCC. Instead media attention focused on whether the BBC had pulled the Newsnight story to protect the BBC1 Christmas Savile tribute programmes, and the ongoing furore eventually resulted in the resignation of the BBC director-general.
Within days Operation Yewtree began investigations into several aging celebrities, some of whom have been charged with sexual offences dating back over many decades. The NSPCC and the Metropolitan Police jointly produced the report Giving Victims A Voice which accepted as factual claims that several hundred people had been sexually assaulted by Savile. The title says it all, as all the accusers are openly described as victims, despite no investigation of their claims ever having been carried out. Evidence by the investigative bloggers have proved that some of these claims are impossible. Both the Exposure TV programme and the Yewtree investigation were part of an ongoing feminist agenda, sponsored by children’s charities, to demonise men and portray women and children as their helpless victims. It must have succeeded beyond their wildest dreams.
The Exposure programme ended with Esther Rantzen tearfully proclaiming that the jury was no longer out on Savile as she gullibly swallowed the deceitful account she had just been presented with. What she failed to see about the Exposure programme was that it provided many witnesses for the prosecution but none for the defence, with no defence counsel cross-examination, just Mark Williams-Thomas apparently spoon-feeding the witnesses with his scripted responses. During the programme we saw no children or any evidence of paedophilia. Just some middle aged women who at best regret how free and easy they were with their sexual favours with a national celebrity when they were teenagers. The result of this charade is that hundreds of women have now come out of the woodwork claiming that they were 'abused' by a safely dead TV star who must have met hundreds of thousands of people during his lifetime. They know they will face little challenge to their allegations, aided and abetted by a charity which promotes the belief that accusers would never lie, a corrupted police leadership that fails to question this viewpoint, a compliant media that does nothing to challenge these assumptions, and lawyers who will provide these likely compensation chasers with all the legal and professional assistance they require.
The above summary of events has been compiled with the help of information provided from the blogs of Anna Raccoon, Jim Cannot Fix This and Justice for Jimmy Savile who, between them, have painstakingly carried out a thorough investigation into the ITV Exposure programme. They are to be congratulated for their tenacity in bringing the truth to light. In contrast the mainstream media has credulously swallowed the apparent falsehoods spun by Williams-Thomas, without carrying out any checking or investigation whatsoever.
Future posts will examine the evidence unearthed by the above intrepid bloggers on the NHS and BBC reports into Savile which appear to be largely a compendium of untested allegations. Savile was certainly no saint, he undoubtedly had a sexual relations with teenage girls, and by the standards of today was a little too touchy-feely in the presence of the opposite sex. However, all the evidence obtained by those who have researched this matter suggests that he was careful to restrict his sexual advances to those over the age of consent, since to do otherwise would risk destroying his reputation and celebrity status. He was most certainly neither a paedophile nor the monster he is currently being portrayed as.