Tag Archives: abuse

Sexual abuse: when women & children were seen as ‘fair game’? – in the past?

A British Rail poster ad from the past

A British Rail poster from the past, with paedophile pop star Gary Glitter

The last words of my blog yesterday were:

“The past does not exist, even though everything is interconnected by happenstance.”

Someone took exception when they read this yesterday and told me:

“You’re an idiot. Of course the past exists.”

Well, it doesn’t and it does…

Two days ago, I posted a blog headlined Rolf Harris, Jimmy Savile, Gary Glitter, Roman Polanski – and what it is like to be sexually assaulted as a child.

Yesterday, I got a response from ‘Sandy Mac’. This turned out to be someone I met at the Edinburgh Fringe last year. This is what she wrote yesterday:


I was born in 1946.

I was about seven years old or a bit younger and sometimes looked after by a neighbour with a small daughter. I rarely saw her husband but, on this occasion, he was at home.

He and I were in the front room sitting in front of the fire. Amidst the chat, I looked up to see this ‘thing’ in his hand which he urged me to touch.

I remember feeling uncertain, confused if not a bit frightened at what he was asking, although I didn’t know why.

I remember him saying: “Go on. It won’t bite.”

Then his wife called us to the kitchen to eat. I can’t remember how I felt after that as we all sat around the table.

I do know that I didn’t tell my mother, but I didn’t go to that house again.

A happy coincidence maybe, but no explanation was given.

In my early twenties, I remember working for one particular employer who was an absolute menace around women. He also wielded quite a lot of power. Not a happy combination. As well as witnessing my employer’s behaviour towards women at first hand, I heard accounts from other people too. This would have been in the mid-1960s.

That sadly was the climate of the times.

Police at that time, I remember, were loathe to intervene in cases of domestic violence. Oh how I applauded Erin Pizzey when she opened her first refuge in Chiswick in the early 1970s.

I was an ‘unmarried mother’ at sixteen and was sent to a mother and baby home, run by nuns in Stamford Hill.

The stigma was huge in 1962, only matched by my mother’s disappointment in me.

My daughter will be 52 this year with three boys of her own. She was reunited in Canada with her father and his lovely wife. She and her dad had about ten years to get to know one another. She was with him when he died a few years ago now.

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The Rolf Harris sex ‘arrest’ – Why was he NOT named and why did the police bring Jimmy Savile’s name into it?

Yesterday’s front page Sun exclusive

Yesterday’s front page Sun ‘exclusive’

Yesterday, the Sun newspaper ran what it called a World Exclusive under the headline.

ROLF HARRIS SEX ABUSE ARREST

To most people, the word ‘arrest’ means that someone was detained, was charged and will appear in court in the very near future.

But the police now seem to be using the word ‘arrest’ in a very non-colloquial way. What they seem to mean by ‘arrest’ in any high-profile case – especially anything within an intercontinental ballistic missile’s reach of the headline-grabbing Jimmy Savile paedophile story – is that they have simply questioned someone under caution in a trawl for evidence.

Having a headline saying ‘arrest’ makes it seem that the police are actually doing something. They are indeed doing something, but there is an element of PR-led bullshit rapidly creeping in here.

Yesterday’s Sun story:

WORLD EXCLUSIVE
ROLF HARRIS SEX ABUSE ARREST
TV LEGEND, 83, QUIZZED OVER ASSAULT CLAIM

was more complicated than it seemed.

The Daily Express front page this morning

The Daily Express front page today

The story was actually that the UK TV star Rolf Harris “was held” (note the Sun’s use of the past tense) “over historic sex abuse allegations by police from the inquiry set up following the Jimmy Savile scandal”

There is obfuscation here, again caused by the police’s PR-led attempts to show they are actively doing something.

In fact, the Sun story ‘revealed’ that police had raided Rolf Harris’ home on 24th November last year (he was not there), interviewed him under caution on 29th November last year and arrested him on 28th March this year.

As far as I am aware, this ‘arrest’ means he was questioned under caution, not that he was actually charged with anything nor with any court date pending.

The police were quoted in yesterday’s Sun as saying: “The individual falls under the strand of the investigation we have termed ‘others’.”

The police started off investigating the Jimmy Savile paedophile case and people connected to that. Then, quite rightly, they started investigating totally unconnected claims of (particularly media-connected) non-paedophile sexual incidents brought to their attention.

These cases are labelled by them as ‘others’. But, by saying that ‘the Savile enquiry police’ are investigating these ‘others’, the police PR machine implies the cases are connected directly to the paedophile investigation and this (presumably intentionally) gets the police ‘brownie points’ in the public’s eye.

What interested me, though, was that the Rolf Harris arrest story was not new.

As the Sun reported yesterday in their Rolf Harris ‘exclusive’, “Harris has been named on social media sites by hundreds of thousands of people” and “the world’s media have been camped outside his home since he was first questioned”.

Their story concluded with the line: “Other celebrities arrested include Freddie Starr, Jim Davidson, Dave Lee Travis, PR guru Max Clifford — who all deny wrongdoing — and Gary Glitter.”

The difference, though, is that when those people were questioned – or “arrrsted” as the police phrased it – they were named in newspapers.

The original detention by police of Rolf Harris WAS reported when it happened, but the reports did not name him. Variations of the phrase “prominent children’s entertainer” were used. Why?

On my Facebook page yesterday, referring to the Rolf Harris arrest report in the Sun, I posted:

The only surprise is… Why was this not reported last November?

This resulted in an online conversation between one of my Facebook Friends and writer Harry Rogers.

I reprint it here in full with their permission:

Rolf Harris, much-loved children’s entertainer

Rolf Harris, iconic children’s entertainer

Facebook Friend: It’s wrong to name. The man has not even been charged, let alone found guilty.

John Fleming: Everyone else was named. In this case, variations on the phrase “prominent children’s TV presenter” were used.

Facebook Friend: John, again it’s not impossible someone wishes to cash in on his fame, to set up so to speak.

John Fleming: In this specific case, it’s relevant that I worked in television for several companies… But my point is why were others named but not him?

Facebook Friend: So are you saying name and shame without even being charged? That surely is not reasonable!

John Fleming: I tend to agree. But I am saying either name or do not name. Why were the others named and not Rolf?

Harry Rogers’ current Facebook profile picture

Harry Rogers’ current Facebook profile picture

Harry Rogers: Probably ‘cos he had had such close access to the Royals

Facebook Friend: John, I hear what you are saying, but I don’t feel anyone should be named unless found guilty

John Fleming: Again, I tend to agree with you. But why was Rolf, almost uniquely, not named?… I actually agree with you. There should be anonymity. But, if there is not, then everyone should be reported equally.

Harry Rogers: The BBC reported there were legal restrictions until today and now those restrictions have been eased, otherwise he would have been outed before today

John Fleming: It would be interesting to know what the restrictions were. A super-injunction?

Facebook Friend: The same stigma for men accused of rape. Woman not named, but sometimes they make up stories. The law needs addressing. It’s outdated.

Harry Rogers: Wait and see

Facebook Friend: The sad thing about all of this now is that a man in his eighties will now be remembered for sex charges, as opposed to decades of being a wholesome hugely talented entertaining individual.

Harry Rogers: And if he is guilty? Then what….

Facebook Friend: Well, if guilty very sad because he will be judged as a person for that and not for his wonderful contribution as artist, entertainer and indeed as a well known animal lover.

Harry Rogers: As such a person that you describe he should have known better, if guilty. It is an abuse of privilege that allows many celebrities to believe that somehow they are different to everybody else, but the reality is that they are the same as the plumber or the school caretaker and should be treated accordingly.

Facebook Friend: Harry, this is subject for debate. An error of judgement perhaps 40 or 50 years ago, although not condoning, surely is not revealing of a person’s real character necessarily.

Harry Rogers: Tell that to the Nazis still hiding even now after the holocaust and those who spend their lives hunting them down. If sex offenders had not given way to their proclivities there would be no story here. Sexual abuse and violence are things which harm people for years. As a teenage boy I was raped by a minor pop star and said nothing for years because I felt ashamed, however it did cause me a lot of grief. You think Rolf deserves to be let off for a minor indiscretion, if he did it. If he did do it then he abused a position of trust and power and deserves to face the music. Sun arise early in the morning.

Facebook Friend: I hear what you are saying Harry. Let’s say his crime was just wanking a boy off 40 years ago. Would that be reasonable to pursue charges now? I am not so sure. If it was rape of a child that of course is another matter… My main concern is the naming and shaming before a verdict! Undemocratic

Harry Rogers: I hardly think the police would be wasting so much time and effort if that was the case, but, in terms of naming and shaming, Rolf Harris can easily come forward and defend himself. There isn’t a TV or media outlet that wouldn’t give him a platform to tell his story… And, anyway, child wanking is still an abuse of power

Facebook Friend: Harry, this is the problem. Police keep on wasting time and public money.

Harry Rogers: The pursuit of child sex offenders is not a waste of public money… As a tax payer this is one police activity I am in favour of

Facebook Friend: Harry you are right. My main concern is the naming and shaming before a verdict

Harry Rogers: As I say if he is innocent then let him stand up and deny it and if that is proved to be true then let him sue the accusers for bundles.

John Fleming: I would be surprised (guessing from what I know) if there is any accusation of child sex abuse in the Rolf Harris case. I would be very surprised if it involved boys or under-age girls. The police say it is not directly related to the Savile case; it comes under their ‘others’ category.

Facebook Friend: The accusers probably don’t have millions. It might be the Michael Jackson case that made people think they might cash in

Harry Rogers: Speculation is dangerous

Facebook Friend: So what should I do Rolf Harris is my Facebook friend?

Harry Rogers: Justice is important. The BBC is putting its neck on the line by running the story again so soon after the Savile debacle… As for Facebook, it’s probably best if we all wait and see. I have no idea what the accusations are, neither do I know whether he is guilty of anything, I am prepared to wait and see what happens, however I am interested in the fact that he has been arrested and will watch this case with the view of an abuse victim to see how it pans out. The fact that we know his name is meaningless. It is the evidence that counts. And we are all adults so we are able to make up our minds about it provided it is all out in the open.

Facebook Friend: My problem with this is a man now in his eighties cannot walk the streets in fear of attack etc. This has to be wrong!

Harry Rogers: Rubbish

Facebook Friend: I don’t think so

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Comedians in crisis and eight children whimper unseen behind a locked door

One man’s momentary improvisation has lasted

Thirty years ago, in 1982, the actor Rutger Hauer improvised a monologue in a film. The original script had read:

I’ve known adventures, seen places you people will never see, I’ve been Offworld and back… frontiers! I’ve stood on the back deck of a blinker bound for the Plutition Camps with sweat in my eyes watching the stars fight on the shoulder of Orion…I’ve felt wind in my hair, riding test boats off the black galaxies and seen an attack fleet burn like a match and disappear. I’ve seen it, felt it…!

Rutger Hauer changed this when the scene was shot in Blade Runner to:

I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched c-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die.

His momentary improvisation has lasted and been remembered.

The original, written script… it is as if it never existed.

Last night, my eternally-un-named friend was cleaning the top of a very old bedside table. It is possibly 100 years old. Perhaps it was made in 1912 or 1922 or even earlier. Just before – or just after – the First World War. Obviously, being that old, there were marks on and in the wood.

Things had happened to the table – lots of tiny split-second things over the course of perhaps 100 years – which marked the wood. It remains scarred after all this time. The table could easily have been thrown away in the last 100 years. And then the scars would not exist.

Just like people.

At some point, the table will be thrown away and destroyed. Then it will not exist. Even the memory of it will not exist.

So it goes.

In the UK, apparently, many comedy clubs are getting perhaps half as many customers as they did a couple of years ago and are cutting back or closing down. “There is a crisis in the live comedy business” and a group of comedians and club owners are meeting in London tomorrow to discuss what they can do about it.

This is very important to them, because they are talking about their livelihoods, how they earn enough money to (just about) survive. In that sense, it is by far the most important thing in the world.

But, to put their troubles into perspective, here is an e-mail I received from comedy critic Kate Copstick this morning, currently working out in Kenya for her Mama Biashara charity. She tells me about something which happened yesterday.

______________________________________________________________________

SATURDAY

Doris has gone off to Limuru where there is a problem with a childminder mistreating kids.  She calls me from Limuru and explains that they had to batter down the door of the woman’s house at 11.00am and found eight children whimpering, famished and covered in their own poo and pee.

The mothers of the kids are what might be termed chang’aa whores – ie they will have sex with a guy for booze. A little like our time-honoured tradition of crack whores. But cheaper. And more prone to death, blindness and insanity (yer basic side effects of chang’aa – a brew that makes poteen look like a banana smoothie).

The women leave their kids with the ‘childminder’ while they go out at night and do what they do.

Sadly, in this case, the childminder simply dosed them with adult strength Piriton and left them while SHE went out overnight to do what she did.

According to Doris, the police were great: “They beat the women till they sobered up and then locked them in the cells”.

We are probably going to Limuru tomorrow with some food and meds for the kids. But, longer term, there is very little we can think of to do for a baby with a monster for a mother.

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Jimmy Savile, Gary Glitter and Roman Polanski. Comparing artists and arses.

(This was also published by the Huffington Post)

Spice World released with scum removed

Roman Polanski?” someone said to me yesterday afternoon. “Well, he’s not as bad as Jimmy Savile, is he?”

That is like a red rag to a bull.

Was Jack The Ripper not as bad as Adolf Hitler because he did not kill as many people? You could even argue Adolf Hitler was a morally better person than the Jack The Ripper because, as far as I am aware, Hitler did not personally kill anyone during the Second World War.

It is a pointless argument.

Jimmy Savile had-it-off with more under-age girls than Roman Polanski and was apparently at-it for 50 years. Roman Polanski was only prosecuted over one girl.

But the truth is you cannot compare evil.

Most things are grey. But some things are black and white and incomparable.

I had a conversation with two other men a couple of days ago and which I started to write a blog about the next day but which I aborted because it was too dangerous…

One man was involved in the comedy business. The other had been involved in the music business. We had got talking about Gary Glitter.

When the Spice Girls’ movie Spice World was made, it included a big musical routine involving Gary Glitter. Very shortly before the film’s release, he was arrested on sex charges. He was cut out of the film because (quite rightly) it was thought to be dodgy given the movie’s target audience.

But now, in many places, several years later, his music is, in effect, banned from being played because the act of playing it – and saying his very name in the introduction – is thought to be in bad taste.

The conversation I had with the other two men revolved around Art v Scum.

Just because someone is scum does not mean they cannot create Art.

Just because they have been rightly arrested, prosecuted and imprisoned for an act of evil does not lessen the level of any Art they may have created.

I am sure all sorts of artists over the centuries have committed all sorts of morally and criminally heinous acts. But that does not mean we should not appreciate their art.

You may see where this is going and why I abandoned writing this particular blog a couple of days ago. Just by discussing it I might seem to be lessening my dislike of what the scum did. Which is not the case. But it is a danger.

Just because Gary Glitter is scum does not mean he did not create some very good pop music. Perhaps it was not high art. But it was good pop music. The fact that he was imprisoned for having pornographic images of children in Britain and committing sex crimes in Vietnam does not mean his records should be banned.

There is the fact that, if you buy his records, he will receive royalties. That is a problem, but does not affect the theoretical discussion.

Clearer examples are actors Wilfred Brambell and Leslie Grantham.

Homosexuality was stupidly illegal in the UK until 1967. In 1962, Wilfred Brambell (old man Steptoe in the BBC TV comedy series Steptoe and Son) was arrested in a Shepherd’s Bush toilet for “persistently importuning”, though he got a conditional discharge. Ooh missus. He died in 1985. In 2012, he was accused of abusing two boys aged aged 12-13 backstage at the Jersey Opera House in the 1970s. One of the boys was from the Haut de la Garenne children’s home, which is now surrounded by very seedy claims of child abuse, murder and torture (and which Jimmy Savile visited, though this is strangely under-played in newspaper reports).

Actor Leslie Grantham – who famously played ‘Dirty Den’ in BBC TV’s EastEnders – is a convicted murderer. In 1966, he shot and killed a German taxi driver in Osnabrück. He was convicted of murder, sentenced to life imprisonment and served ten years in jail.

Wilfred Brambell’s presumed sexual sleaziness and Leslie Grantham’s actual imprisonment for killing someone does not mean the BBC should never repeat Steptoe and Son nor old episodes of EastEnders, nor that it would be morally reprehensible to watch the Beatles’ movie A Hard Day’s Night because Wilfred Brambell plays a prominent role in it.

It does not mean that Wilfred Brambell and Leslie Grantham’s undoubtedly high acting skills should not be appreciated.

A chum of mine was recently compiling a history of glam rock for a BBC programme and was told he could not include Gary Glitter. That is a bit like not including the Rolling Stones in a history of 1960s British rock music or not including Jimmy Savile in a history of BBC disc jockeys.

Which brings us to Roman Polanski.

As anyone who reads this blog knows, I think he is scum and (figuratively speaking) his balls should be cut off and he should be thrown into a bottomless pit of dung for eternity.

He drugged, raped and buggered a 13-year-old girl.

End of.

The defence “She was not that innocent” is no defence.

In January next year, the British Film Institute starts a two-month “tribute” to Roman Polanski at the National Film Theatre in London.

I have no problem with that. I might even go to some of the movie screenings.

Dance of the Vampires, Rosemary’s Baby and Macbeth are brilliant films. Chinatown and Tess are very good – although I have also had the misfortune to sit through the unspeakably awful Pirates.

As a film-maker, Roman Polanski deserves a tribute. As a criminal on the run from justice, he deserves to be arrested and imprisoned.

Art is often created by people who are scum.

Here is the deleted scene from Spice World:

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Dead paedophile Jimmy Savile, sexism at the BBC and rapes in 31 US states

(This piece was also published by the Huffington Post)

The Sun newspaper’s headline today

Last night, a female friend and I watched (on BBC TV) the special Panorama investigation Jimmy Savile: What the BBC Knew – a programme not just about the Savile scandal but about why, last year, a detailed Newsnight programme exposing Savile’s crimes had been shelved.

Afterwards, my friend asked me: “What do you think?”

“Well,” I replied, “the Jim’ll Fix It! producer said the radio people had never told him any of the stories about Savile but, then, they wouldn’t. Radio and TV are separate people in different  parts of London. Paul Gambaccini said, quite rightly, that people on the 3rd floor of Broadcasting House would not hear gossip happening on the 2nd floor.”

“But,” said my friend, “the editor of Newsnight said there wasn’t anything they had uncovered that the police did not already know – and that wasn’t true.”

“I don’t know why he said that. It’s bizarre,” I agreed. “A lot of the problems are because the BBC is a… Well, you have a situation where the BBC has now commissioned and transmitted a programme exposing something the BBC doesn’t really want to talk about… but it’s the BBC themselves who have made and transmitted the programme they don’t want to be made and transmitted.

“The BBC is not a large thinking, downwardly-controlled entity. Everyone is trying not to control from above. It’s managed day-to-day from below by the producers and the individual bureaucrats. If they think something is dodgy, they refer it up one level… in the case of programmes, to the editor who, if he is uncertain, may refer it up to the executive producer, who… Well, it’s this multi-layered beast with no-one trying to impose or interfere too much on the lower layers because the big thing is editorial independence.

“They said in the programme – quite rightly – that the Director General is in a lose-lose situation. If he did anything, then people will accuse him of controlling things in a Machiavellian way. If he did not do anything, then they’ll say he should have done.”

“It’s not that uncontrolled,” said my  friend, “ because there was a number of times when women were being replaced because they were too old.”

Front page of today’s Daily Mail

“But the people at the very top did not do that,” I said. “That was the hands-on producers or editors or executive producers. The BBC did not sit down and decide as a single corporate entity, as a matter of policy to do it.”

“Well why did they do it?” my  friend asked. “They replaced women because they were too old. It was never men who were replaced.”

“But the BBC as a corporate monolithic thing was not doing that,” I said. “The producers and editors as independent individuals were doing that. The BBC is not some great Machiavellian organisation. It rarely decides anything at a programme level. The individual people who make the individual programmes take the decisions.”

“Isn’t it just an institution that’s mostly male, though?” she asked.

“Well, that’s an entirely different argument,” I said, “though, in this case – shelving the Newsnight programme –  the Big Boss – Helen Boaden – is a woman.”

“Isn’t that how Savile got away with it, though?” my  friend asked me. “A load of young girls were regularly going back to Jimmy Savile’s dressing room and a few guys – it wasn’t just him and Gary Glitter… Some people must have known these young girls were being taken into the dressing room and abused and people were getting away with it because it was Ooh! It’s just guys being guys!”

“But that wasn’t the BBC itself deciding that it was going to be allowed,” I said. “That’s individuals’ failings. The BBC didn’t have meetings at the top or the middle ranks or anywhere and say Oh, we’re going to allow Jimmy Savile to feel-up and rape under-age girls in his dressing room. It’s something that happened without anyone deciding it was going to be allowed to happen. And the people who were not involved but who saw it happen did not report it.

“The people at the sixth floor management level of Television Centre – and they’re the only people you could sort of call ‘The BBC’ – did not know what was happening in the basement dressing rooms of the building. The Director General, the Head of Entertainment and even – the way he tells it – the producer of Jim’ll Fix It!did not know that Savile was abusing people in the dressing room and there was no evidence presented to anyone at the time that he was.

“What I don’t understand is why Paul Gambaccini at Radio 1 who’s now going on as if he knew all about it and how appalling it was at the time, didn’t report it.”

“But,” said my friend, “wasn’t the attitude that Guys will be guys! They’re having a bit of a lark! It’s the Swinging Sixties and Swinging Seventies!

“Well, I said, “that’s not what Gambaccini seems to be saying. He is saying now that he thought it was appalling and disgusting at the time.

The Independent newspaper today

“I mean,” I continued, “some of it happened when David Attenborough was Controller BBC2. He would not have known anything about it. The BBC is this vast organisation. It’s a vast collection of little separated villages of different programmes and offices in different departments on different floors of different buildings. Lots of little cliques.

“One set of programme makers barely knows the vague outline of what other programmes are doing in the same department let alone what happens in dressing rooms with the doors closed. I know AAA BBB. He worked on Jim’ll Fix It! He says he never even met Jimmy Savile because Savile only came in on the day of the recording. He worked on the production team of the show and he never even met Jimmy Savile! The BBC organising some vast corporate conspiracy is something beyond practicalities.

“I mean, tonight’s show was made by Panorama about Newsnight. I suspect the people working on the two shows are mortal enemies and there’s an element of sticking the knife in. The BBC is like The Balkans: lots of little separate entities sometimes sniping at each other. It’s not really fully under control. It’s nothing to do with men v women.”

“I think it is,” said my friend.

“The BBC didn’t think having sex with under-age girls was acceptable,” I said. “They didn’t approve it on the sixth floor. They didn’t know it was happening. They didn’t say This is acceptable and we’re going to allow Jimmy Savile to do it on BBC premises.

“Well,” said my friend, “he was completely arrogant and he was a man in a man’s world on top of the pile.”

“So what was the BBC supposed to do about something they didn’t know was happening?” I asked.

“It’s the attitude of society,” said my  friend. “Guys think they can use women. The BBC is part of what society is. All those quiz shows that are happening! You don’t get any women on them!”

“So what could the BBC have done about Jimmy Savile?” I asked.

“It’s Nudge nudge Wink wink,” my  friend said, “Guys cover up for other guys.”

“But the BBC didn’t decide to cover it up,” I said, “The BBC did not decide it was acceptable. The BBC did not know.”

“It’s men’s attitude that they have a right to sex,” said my friend. “They can buy it if they can’t find a woman to do it with. They can get it where they want.”

There was another sixteen minutes of this (I recorded it). My friend tends to get het up about the inherent sexism in society and how men make all the rules in their favour. I think she exaggerates.

This morning, when I woke up, a Twitter follower drew my attention to a CNN report a couple of months ago.

The report mentioned in passing that, in 31 US states, rapists have the same custody and visitation rights to any resulting children as other fathers.

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Filed under Radio, Rape, Sex, Television

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.

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Filed under Journalism, Newspapers, Sex, Television

The sex abuse stories swirling around dead Jimmy Savile spin out of control

Liberal Democrats rate my blog above normal education

My blog three days ago about the Have I Got News For You Jimmy Savile transcript faked by SOTCAA continues to get a large number of hits. This can only be helped by the fact that, this morning, it is oddly recommended by the Liberal Democrat Voice website as one of its 8 Must-Read Articles for Liberal Democrat Party members and supporters.

It comes in as No 2 in a list of Must-Read Articles, above Free Schools: The Research Lab of State Education, Debunking the Myths Around School Choice and David Cameron’s Inflexible, Thatcherite Party is Being Exploited by Ed Miliband. I will be fascinated to read what is in the Liberal Democrats’ next election manifesto.

I am very grateful for the recommendation, though confused at the political importance or implications of my finely-compiled piece or, indeed, any political significance in Jimmy Savile.

The Daily Mail today seems to disagree.

I am a great admirer of the Daily Mail’s professionalism – something that has brought me a lot of criticism, not all of it constructive…

Should you believe a headline with ?

But, this morning, the Daily Mail is using Jimmy Savile as part of its ongoing BBC-bashing campaign in an astonishingly slapdash and sloppy down-market piece headlined: WAS THERE A SEX RING INSIDE THE BBC? – Jimmy Savile’s colleague ‘procured girls for him’.

It reads like something out of the Sunday Sport.

When I was a student, my main lecturer in Journalism was the Production Editor of the now-closed-amid-shame News of the World. He pointed out to us that, when a question mark was used in a newspaper headline, it often meant that the newspaper itself did not believe the story, but it was just too good a story not to run.

Two scumbags connected by a dodgy caption in the Daily Mail

Today’s Daily Mail article claims an un-named BBC person (who denies it) introduced girls to Jimmy Savile for sex and had sex with them himself. There is also a photo of disgraced Gary Glitter with a caption saying Rocker Gary Glitter has already been implicated in the alleged sex ring. But there is no mention anywhere in the article itself of Gary Glitter.

Now, there may well have been a ‘sex ring’ inside the BBC in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, but I severely doubt it. Rampant randiness abounded and I’m sure still does. But an organised sex ring? Unlikely.

The Daily Mail article starts “The Mail has been told that a BBC employee was allegedly given the task of procuring girls for the presenter and other men to molest…”. But there is no mention of any “other men” in the article. It is journalistic ‘bigging-up’ of a slender story.

The article talks of “a former beauty queen” who claims she had sex with Savile because “I just thought this might make me famous” and, a week later, was raped by his ‘accomplice’. The Mail says this beauty queen is “named only as Sandra” but then publishes a full-length photograph of her. The “named only as Sandra” reference is intended to sound mysterious and protective of a victim’s privacy but is bollocks when they print a clear, identifiable picture of her.

I have no reason to suppose her rape did not happen and take place in a BBC office and it is appalling, but the Daily Mail does not help its/her case by quoting her as saying: “There must have been people around because I could hear radio shows going on”.

She could hear more than one radio show being transmitted from some nearby soundproof studios?? That seems unlikely to me, bordering on the surreal. But it is a detail some hack journalist might add in to make the story more vivid.

In today’s newspaper, a second woman who worked as a “waitress at a drinking club in Marylebone” tells the Mail about Jimmy Savile “trying to have sex” with her. The Mail then says it put the “rape allegation” to Savile’s alleged accomplice.

This “rape allegation” can only refer to the beauty queen rape but, by putting the reference immediately after the waitress’ story, the Mail article by implication subtly heightens her groping/sexual assault (which is bad enough) into a full rape.

The ‘accomplice’ told the Mail “he could not remember a drinking club in Marylebone” and the Mail does not name it. No reason why it could not if it existed. This is sloppy reporting.

The Mail says the BBC is now conducting “a forensic examination of documents relating to BBC programmes going back for more than 40 years”. I really doubt that what the Mail says is true.

We could have a long debate about the word’s Latin origin, but ‘forensic’ in everyday speech means “the application of scientific methods and techniques to the investigation of crime”. I really doubt that the BBC is employing forensic scientific techniques to examine the physical composition of the documents themselves.

It is sloppy journalism and sloppy witch-hunting.

It simply muddies the clear waters around the vileness of Jimmy Savile. The clue was in the name – Jimmy sa vile.

Meanwhile, the So It Goes blog’s Canadian correspondent Anna Smith tells me: “I don’t know if anyone in Vancouver has heard of Jimmy Saville.”

Maybe they have other things on their minds.

She tells me her neighbours include “a mysterious sailor from Manchester who lost his ability to speak… a pair of evangelist Vikings who distilled moonshine from mango peelings… an Australian plumber who has spent time in jail in Afghanistan… and there is the story of a luxury yacht stolen by a renegade tuna fisherman and his wife… that story also involves a midget and his mother….”

Life goes on. The world spins, not yet totally out of control.

Just a little odd.

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Filed under Journalism, Newspapers, PR, Rape, Sex