Paedophile DJ Jimmy Savile – What I ‘knew’ but never reported years ago

(This piece was also published by the Huffington Post and by India’s We Speak News)

Today’s new front page ‘revelations’

The BBC is getting blamed for doing nothing about Jimmy Savile, although it seems, over the years, five police forces actually investigated stories about him in some way and did nothing.

I worked in British television from 1973 onwards, though only twice on BBC programmes; the rest of the time, I worked for ITV and independent companies. Still, I heard rumours about Jimmy Savile.

The rumours were mostly that he was gay. After all, he was a single, unmarried man who wore bright clothes and had a possibly unhealthily close relationship with his mother.

Now it seems he was not gay.

Oddly, I heard about his dodgy interest in young girls from people outside television and before I ever worked on TV programmes.

In 1970, a girlfriend mentioned to me that, when she had been growing up in Yorkshire and was aged around 14, she went to a live show – I think it was a disco type show – which Jimmy Savile presented. Afterwards, he got talking to her and arranged to meet her later that night.

She did not keep the appointment, because she felt uncomfortable about it and about him.

As anyone who knows me well will tell you, I have a terrible memory, so treat the next memory with sympathy.

At vaguely around the same time I vaguely remember being told another story about Jimmy Savile.

He knew a family with a young daughter. The parents were going away for the night and they asked him to look after their teenage, under-age, daughter. He did not ask then, they asked him and almost insisted. It was almost an honour for them. He had sex with her. They never knew.

So those are my two stories – three if you include the persistent rumours he was gay.

The two stories involving girls now sound as if they were true. The ‘gay’ rumours now sound like they might be untrue. I never particularly repeated the stories to anyone else because they were just that – stories, gossip, rumour. You hear a lot of gossip about a lot of people.

When I worked at London Weekend Television and at Granada TV, I peripherally encountered a major ‘family entertainment’ star (mostly associated with BBC programmes). I was told by people at both ITV stations that he was a well-know ‘groper’ of women. It was widely-known.

But it might not be true.

A friend told me about an Anglia TV executive who chased her lecherously round the board room table, grabbing at her. She was also grabbed-at by a prominent Labour Party politician on another occasion. I know those stories to be true because they were told to me first hand by one of the two people involved.

In that sense, they are stories but not rumours.

At the weekend, someone was telling me that a particular macho British actor and international movie star is gay. I took it to be true because the person who told me knows her gossip. But it is just gossip, just rumour.

Scallywag ‘knew’ it was true – but it was not…

Everybody with an ear to the gossip ‘knew’ a few years ago that Prime Minister John Major was having an affair with caterer Clare Latimer.

Except he was not.

The whole of Fleet Street ‘knew’. It was widely hinted at. Media folk ‘knew’ all about the affair. I ‘knew’. Scallywag magazine – which printed stories even Private Eye would not touch – published pieces about it.

In 1992, the band Soho even included a track called Claire’s Kitchen on their album Thug. The lyrics referred to the affair without naming John Major.

It was only in 1993, when the New Statesmen printed the story, that John Major and Clare Latimer sued both the New Statesman and Scallywag.

Much later, in 2002, it turned out he had not been having an affair with caterer Clare Latimer at all, but with fellow Tory MP Edwina Currie – and it only came out then because she mentioned it in her autobiography.

Yet the gossip about the Claire’s Kitchen affair had been as strong and ‘known to be as true’ as the current long-running gossip about two US actor Scientologists being gay.

But they might not be.

It is just a rumour.

And let us not even mention the stories about a recent Prime Minister being gay or another one having a foreign affair.

As it ‘appens, the rumours about Jimmy Savile were true but they were unprintable because they would not ‘stand up’ in a court or even in a newspaper article, let alone in any BBC investigation. There are all sorts of rumours about all sorts of people. If you are famous, it comes with the territory.

So it is a bit rich when national newspapers blame the BBC for not ‘outing’ Jimmy Savile as a paedophile in the decades when those same newspapers were running ‘Our Kindly Saint Jimmy’ stories but also knew the widespread rumours. Why did they not publish the stories if they ‘knew’ they were true?

The answer is because they did not know beyond gossip. Nor did the BBC.

Now we do.

Mostly.

8 Comments

Filed under Journalism, Newspapers, Sex, Television

8 responses to “Paedophile DJ Jimmy Savile – What I ‘knew’ but never reported years ago

  1. Billy McGuire

    Well,John if not investigating the DJ was really the BBC ‘s crime then well done Petrochelli you can go back to building the condo ..But failure to investigate is by far the least and easiest of the charges ,They are a public organisation who used public money to “manage “a building in which children (many) were repeated raped over decades.They had a responsibility of care towards each child they allowed to enter they’re building.I do not understand why the victims do not sue the B right out of the BBC

  2. Martin

    I believe the term “Duty of Care” came into use sometime in the early 21st century and was certainly not a term heard in the 60’s and 70’s (or even the 80’s) In those days people trusted people to do what was right. A more innocent age you might say. Is it that again people are looking to lay the blame in this blame everybody but me society(and in no way am I referring to Savile’s victims here) ? Sueing the BBC? – for what purpose other than financial gain at the taxpayer’s expense? If anyone is found to have colluded in hiding Savile’s activities then hopefully the police investigation will uncover that and the appropriate action will be taken by the appropriate authorities, The BBC is not, and was not, a bloody nanny and if every rumour was treated as a “FACT” this world would not be worth living in. Now can we please shut up about this, there are far more pressing matters facing the people of this country right now than the historical misdoings of a celebrity DJ who is now dead.

  3. Billy McGuire

    I suspect you may be right Martin ,that the snappy media friendly title “responsibility of care ” may have been first coined in the 21st century
    but that does not mean that the BBC were not responsible for the safety of worker and visitors to their organisation ..I should be most suprised if the BBC does not finally find itself compensating victims as I would suspect will homes and hospitals involved and all as you say paid from the public purse

  4. There is always the ‘never let the truth get in the way of a good rumour’ and the fact that so often the whistleblower is the one that gets shot while the offender comes up smelling of roses.

    Nice Blog and for what it’s worth, I probably wouldn’t have acted on the information either

  5. walter coady

    i dont believe any of it to be honest, if savile done what they said he done why didnt they say something when he was still alive, everyone seems to be jumping on the gravy train looking for compo in my oppinion, i hope the truth comes out in the end and god help you people that have been telling porkies, i hope they plaster your names all over soho lol

    • Hi Walter,
      People did complain, did try to press charges & police were either paid off (ref Jimmy Savile’s own biography) or told there was not enough evidence. However, there was no cross referencing of information between police forces.

  6. Lavinia Winstanley

    Long ago, one of my children asked me to get her on Jim’ll Fix it. I said no because the guy was an obvious creep, she said how could he be, he was presented as a hero on the BBC. And therein lies the rub, bringing up kids is hard enough without the BBC making heroes out of something the cat brought in by mistake. Everything about him screamed “unhealthy” and as for raising money for Stoke Mandeville, Stoke Mandeville should be funded out of taxation, any of us might need it at any time.

  7. What about the St John ambulance paedophiles who are about to receive awards from the Queen’s representative:
    http://bit.ly/ourNZexperience

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