I am indebted to my commentator, DtP, for suggesting the title – superb! Wish I had thought of it myself.
First the Yewtree report. This long awaited £450,000 worth of expensive police time has succeeded in uniting two warring parties – the conspiracy theorists who are convinced that a combination of lizards/Rothschilds/the Royal Family/and sundry far-from-politically-correct comedians and DJs/are responsible for subverting the morals of the entire nation – and those who have direct experience of the various care homes and other institutions implicated in the ‘Savile was Britain’s greatest dead paedophile’ saga. Getting these opposing parties standing on the sidelines yelling ‘load of rubbish’ in unison will be a hard act to follow for future inquiries. My congratulations to DS David Gray and Peter Watt of the NSPCC, I wouldn’t have thought it possible.
Part of the problem is that although they have spent a great deal of money – two detectives travelled from Surrey to another part of the British Isles, staying in the most expensive hotel in the area for two days of interviews with a witness who gave them documentary evidence that Savile’s association with Duncroft in particular only commenced in 1974 they then publish a report detailing alleged offences there in 1971!
This may well be because the report has been based exclusively on accounts by those making allegations in order to ‘Give victims a voice’. Inconveniently contradictory documentary facts having no place in reassuring ‘victims’ that they have been ‘believed and listened to’.
My interest in this matter has always related to the ‘Duncroft’ issues, partly through personal knowledge, and partly because it was the believed ’suppression’ of these facts, vis-a-vis the initial non-transmitted Newsnight segment, that created the uproar that was to rock the BBC to its foundations and result in many experienced journalists and producers no longer in employment. I fully accept that there is a school of thought that says none of that matters because of the ‘good’ that has come out the ensuing publicity and the number of others abused that have felt able to come forward. That has always seemed to me to be an argument along the lines of ‘But Mussolini made the trains run on time’. There were other ways of getting the message across. I don’t believe that the resulting publicity justifies the damage that has been done.
For that reason alone, I draw a sharp dividing line between those allegations made before transmission of Panorama, and those made in the wake of publicity afterwards. Yewtree has taken them all together, and thus can cheerfully announce that
2.4 The volume of the allegations that have been made, most of them dating back many years, has made this an unusual and complex inquiry. On the whole victims are not known to each other and taken together their accounts paint a compelling picture of widespread sexual abuse by a predatory sex offender.
Nope, on the whole they are not, but those of us who were eagerly awaiting the results of your £450,000 inquiry are interested in whether the original complainants were known to each other, and in contact with each other….we say they were, and are not impressed that you have glossed over this important detail.
Yewtree, written in conjunction with the NSPCC is primarily concerned to ‘give victims a voice’. Therefore they have followed the California model of believing everything said about what might have happened to a child. (This only applies to sexual abuse, otherwise Venables and Thompson would have been sent home with a pat on the head, ‘believed’ when they said that Jamie Bulgers disappearance had nothing to do with them’). I am quite happy to accept that young children are unlikely to lie about sexual occurrences otherwise how else would they know how to describe what has happened to them? – so no surprise at the following part of paragraph 2.4.
We are therefore referring to them as ‘victims’ rather than ‘complainants’ and are not presenting the evidence they have provided as unproven allegations.
What is a surprise is that have said they are ‘victims’ as a fact, and therefore reports as factual evidence:
2.11 There are reports of offences from when Savile worked at the BBC between 1965 and 2006, at the final recording of Top of the Pops.
At Leeds General Infirmary, where he was a porter, offending was reported between 1965 and 1995.
At Stoke Mandeville Hospital, where he was also a porter, reported offending took place between 1965 and 1988.
They then single out Duncroft School as being the site of ‘allegations of offences’. Ho hum.
At Duncroft School there are allegations of offences between 1970 and 1978 when he was a regular visitor.
Interesting, particularly since Operation Outreach spent so much money establishing who introduced him to Duncroft, when, and the six visits he made…
The conspiracy theorists are mortified to read that:
2.15 There is no clear evidence of Savile operating within a paedophile ring although whether he was part of an informal network is part of the continuing investigation and it’s not therefore appropriate to comment further on this.
But DS Gray ploughs on with his sop to the nation’s intelligence…
9.2 The victims tell us that at Duncroft School Savile was given unsupervised access and preyed upon girls by offering ‘favours’ such as trips in his car and cigarettes in return for sexual activity.
Remember you said you were ‘investigating Savile’ – not just writing down what the ‘victims’ told you Petal?
Still the CPS report, also known as the Levitt report, released today, was far more interesting. Here for the first time we have an authoritative account of what the Duncroft victims amounted to. These were the girls, the only ‘victims’, over which the BBC was traumatised and brought to its knees. These are the girls who have resulted in no less than 14 separate inquiries running at present. Remember, everyone else came after this…
I will set aside Karin Ward for the moment, simply because she had never gone to the police, nor had made any complaint to the staff at Duncroft; her allegations arose purely because one of a series of fictional books she had written about her life as an abused child was picked up by investigating journalists. The story was ‘given legs’ as they say in the trade, by the revelation that Savile had been investigated by the police, and the investigation was stopped because Savile was ‘old and infirm’. If that was true, it meant by implication that Karin Ward was probably telling the truth…even though those who knew Duncroft and Karin’s hard won reputation for telling amazing porkies could see the glaring errors in her book. (I still love the idea of Bridie Keenan, the ex Judo teacher, administering injections with no previous training and no cries of foul play from the other residents!!!)
So, a wonderfully shortened version of the Duncroft victims, for those who don’t want to read the full report:
Surprisingly, the first person to contact Police, was nothing to do with Duncroft. That was the ’2007′ investigation which has been quoted many times as being the Duncroft investigation. It wasn’t.
It concerned a lady who, 40 years beforehand, had been in her 20s when she heard Savile on TV saying he needed a holiday. She, being a member of his fan club, offered her family home as a suitable place for him to take a holiday. She received a polite letter in response saying thank-you but no thank-you.
2 years later, Savile’s chauffeur appeared at her door without warning, and told her husband that Savile was in the local town and had sent him to see if she wanted to go and meet him. Her husband encouraged her to go. She went. The ‘next thing she remembers’ was that Savile had his arm around her, and they ‘ended up in his caravan’. Whilst there, he asked her whether she was on the pill, and put her hand on his groin. When she said that ‘she didn’t do that sort of thing’, Savile sat up, checked that she had her bus fare home, and invited her to take a memento. She chose a crucifix. That’s it. That’s the dastardly attack.
However, 40 years later, after living abroad for many years, she returned to the UK, saw Savile on TV, and sat down to write a letter to the Sun newspaper…as you do. A reporter hot footed it down to see her. She told the reporter that she wouldn’t go to the police. Four months later the Reporter tried again. This time the reporter told her that she’d ‘keep her name out of the papers’ but that Savile was now connected to events at Haute de la Garenne in Jersey, and that unless she agreed to make a complaint, nothing could be done about the alleged abuse of children there. On that basis she made a complaint to the Sussex Police.
The Police visited and told her that they would need to contact her (now) ex-husband, and her workmates from 40 years beforehand to check the story out. She was unwilling for various reasons to co-operate with this course of action.
The Levitt report concludes that had she made an official complaint, it would at least have gone towards showing a ‘pattern of behaviour’ – though given that she was in her 20s, had invited Savile to her home, gone willingly to his bedroom, and the man had cheerfully desisted after what was admittedly a coarse approach to suggesting sex, it scarcely shows a pattern of paedophile behaviour.
Fast forward another 2 years, and we have the first of the Duncroft allegations. 2009 and a Duncroft resident approaches Surrey Police not to report that she had been abused, but to tell them that she had witnessed an abuse occurring at Duncroft. This was 2 years after The Sun had first made strenuous efforts to connect Savile with a care home. She claims to have phoned Child-line – (Esther? Didn’t you say ‘if only’?) and been told to go to the Police. So she did.
She gave them the name of Witness C, who she alleges was sitting next to Savile in the TV lounge, when he took her hand and placed it on his crotch, he then ‘squeezed her hand’ which would have had the effect of ‘squeezing his testicles and penis’. She said that she believed witness ‘C’ to be 14 at this time. She says that Savile ‘groomed the girls’ by sending them a giant box of chocolates on their 16th birthday. (A bit tardy for someone who had ambitions to be a paedophile groomer I would have thought, 14th birthday would have made more sense, but what do I know). He did this all of three times. The chocolates on the 16th birthday, I mean.
All well and good, but when the police caught up with witness ‘C’, she didn’t want to know. She declined to make a statement. She agreed that the incident had occurred, but said it only happened the once, she was 15, not 14 at the time, and she had never seen Savile since – although she was the recipient of one of the three now infamous boxes of chocolates two days later – presumably on her 16th birthday?
Not a lot the Police could do with that, although Savile undoubtedly committed an offence. Either indecent assault or gross indecency with a child. There is no question of consent being given – and the arrival of the box of chocolates a few days later which we have already heard from another witness happened three times on 16th birthdays confirms this. It is not absolutely necessary that the victim give evidence themselves, the case could have continued without her, but was becoming weaker by the minute. However, had all these allegations been correlated, and this is the point that the Levitt report makes consistently, it could have amounted to ‘a pattern of behaviour’. The 20 year old claiming that Savile placed her hand on his crotch, and now a 15 year old being the alleged victim of identical behaviour – but being unwilling to formally confirm it.
The Police persevered though, and traced the other residents of Duncroft at the time (1978). Thus they came to speak to Witness ‘D’ who told them that nothing had ever happened to her, but she had heard rumours and that these rumours were being discussed on Friendsreunited. A few days later she rang the Police again and told them that actually her sister had been at Stoke Mandeville Hospital for a concert and Savile had approached her, kissed her and stuck his tongue in her mouth. Extraordinary co-incidence. Out of all those people at the concert, the sister of a Duncroft girl! Still, it might not reinforce the paedophile stalking the corridors at Duncroft, but it is an offence.
Oh dear, she didn’t want to make a complaint either. No witness statement from her, no botched police investigation, in fact she didn’t even want to meet Ms Levitt.
I’m trying hard here, but I’m up to page 36, and so far I’ve got one witness who is unwilling to formally confirm that Savile once placed her hand on his crotch and squeezed it, a few days before her 16th birthday. Onwards and Upwards.
We move onto witness ‘G’. Witness ‘G’ was certainly 16, in that she was resident in Norman Lodge, where girls were only entitled to live when they had reached the age at which they could go out to work. At one time (when I was at Duncroft, that was 14 – but things had changed by 1978, and now you had to be 16, by law) So there is witness ‘G’, 16 years old, and apparently training to be a nurse. Savile allegedly said to her, ‘Give us a blow job, and I’ll get you a job at Stoke Mandeville’ or words to that effect. She declined.
Er, and that was that…he didn’t pursue the matter.
Interestingly, witness ‘G’ was one of the girls on the television programme, and Ms Levitt says:
I did not know at the time I met her that Ms G had participated in a television programme about Jimmy Savile. During that programme she made a number of allegations which go considerably further than those she made to DC S in 2008. When I met her she made reference to having given him a “hand job” but said that she had refused to give him a “blow job”.
So much for the much vaunted ‘Duncroft’ allegations and the ‘five women’ who had gone to the police and come away empty handed as a result of corruption/blinded by fame and celebrity/ protected by higher powers etc, etc.
The evidence that the police had amounts to one 20 year old who rejected a crass approach and was nothing to do with Duncroft, one who was a witness, one near 16 year old who says he put her hand on his crotch but didn’t want to do anything about it, one who says he kissed her sister and made her cry, one who says he made an inappropriate suggestion but didn’t pursue it – and one who has made a career out of writing of child abuse, egged on by the psychologist who chose to involve herself in the Hollie Grieg ‘paedophile ring’ hoax.
In fairness, Levitt QC makes a point of saying that if all these allegations had been taken together then they might have been held to show a ‘course of behaviour’, and if all the witnesses had been told of the other allegations then those who declined to give evidence might have changed their minds, and Savile might have got two years, being the then going rate for indecent assault on a child. (Witness ‘C’).
As it was, he was interviewed under caution, and denied the offences. Both Surrey Police and Sussex Police did go to strenuous efforts to trace all the other residents looking to find more evidence and more importantly, DID notify a range of other charities, and institutions that they had investigated Savile. (See the appendix for full list).
At no point in any of the copious statements to Police did anyone so much as suggest that staff at Duncroft might have been aware of the two occasions we are left with – the ‘hand on crotch’ incident, or the ‘inappropriate suggestion’ incident.
Sky news just on – report by NSPCC reveals ‘full extent of Savile’s offending’ and Police missed ‘at least three opportunities’ to charge him. Sylvia Edwards just being interviewed – the girl who alleged that film of the final episode of Top of the Pops shows him groping her bottom – an event which she says has ruined her entire life….
And apparently ‘he struck at Duncroft School at least 11 times’….and Savile was ‘unchallenged by Police’. Interviewed under caution over an incident where the alleged victim declined to give a statement is NOT unchallenged.
Cobblers! I am ashamed to be British tonight.