How Savile’s niece’s demand for compensation led to police fraud probe: Her own daughter says story is false…how many more of the 211 claims for vast payments will police investigate?
- Caroline Robinson claimed great-uncle Savile abused her in front of family
- In 2011 gave TV and newspaper interviews following paedophile’s exposure
- But family members say ‘there is not a chance in this world’ her story is true
- Now police are investigating other Savile compensation scheme claimants
- Many of the 211 claims are vague with history not always checking out
Detectives have launched a criminal inquiry into suspected fraud over claims of sex abuse by Jimmy Savile, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.
The extraordinary development centres on allegations by Savile’s own great-niece, Caroline Robinson, who claims she was sexually abused by him as a child – and is seeking thousands of pounds in compensation.
But following inquiries by this newspaper, police in West Yorkshire have confirmed they have now launched a probe. And both West Yorkshire and detectives from Scotland Yard’s Operation Yewtree have said they would investigate other claims if fraud were suspected.
Some 211 people came forward claiming compensation after alleged abuse by the DJ, who died in 2011. The following year, a TV documentary exposed his predatory behaviour, opening a floodgate of claims.
An engagement party at a luxury venue in Leeds in 1978. The bride-to-be – who, unusually enough, is both pregnant and only 15 – is asked by her mother to take some food to the disc jockey, her famous ‘Uncle Jimmy’ Savile, who’s playing the hits in his booth next to the heaving dancefloor.
The girl shudders at the request because three years earlier, when she was just 12, Savile sexually abused her in front of numerous relatives at a family gathering. But she’s keen to please her mother, and so she obeys – only to be assaulted all over again, this time much more seriously.
It’s dark and noisy. No one sees his attack and no one hears her protests. ‘He cornered me; I was trapped,’ she would tell a reporter years later. ‘I can still summon up the smell of him; his cigars and a sweet, sickly girls’ perfume. When it was over, I ran outside. I remember being sick. Then I went into the hotel toilets and scrubbed myself.’
In the long, posthumous charge sheet against Jimmy Savile, this depraved case stands out: an account of his abuse of his own great-niece, Caroline Robinson.
Now 51, she gave TV and newspaper interviews in 2012, after the documentary that first exposed Savile as a paedophile.
But an investigation by The Mail on Sunday has revealed that her story conflicts with other evidence – and in this is not alone: so far as it is possible to check other claims being made by Savile’s alleged victims, some may also be questionable.
At least five members of Mrs Robinson’s close family say she is lying, including her daughter, Samantha Smith. Samantha has even accused her mother of making a fraudulent claim for compensation, and submitted a formal complaint to police.
Mrs Robinson’s brother, Martin Perry, adds ‘there is not a chance in this world’ that her story of being abused by Savile while sitting on his knee in front of many witnesses aged 12 was true. As for the engagement party, ‘it never happened’.
Mrs Smith, 26, a school science cover supervisor, said: ‘She’s made out like she was trying to protect me from him. It was the exact opposite.’ When she was 13, she said, her mother made her take a day off school to go to Savile’s brother Vincent’s funeral – purely so that she would meet Jimmy.
‘She was saying, “There he is, go and talk to him, he’s got loads of money”. His money and fame were the only reasons she made me go the funeral of a man I’d never met.’
Her police statement concludes: ‘I reject all of Caroline’s claims as nothing more than a calculated lie in order to obtain money fraudulently.’
Last night, Geoff Dodd, West Yorkshire’s Assistant Chief Constable, revealed police were beginning an inquiry into whether Mrs Robinson’s claim is bogus.
She has previously denied her family’s allegations, but last night did not return requests for comment.
Mrs Robinson has waived her anonymity by giving interviews, so it is possible to check what she says. Legal restrictions make investigating claims by others who say Savile abused them extremely difficult.
Detectives have launched a criminal inquiry into suspected fraud over claims of sex abuse by Jimmy Savile.
However, inquiries by this newspaper have revealed:
- Mrs Robinson’s compensation claim is one of 211 filed under a scheme set up by the executors of Savile’s will, National Westminster Bank, and the law firm it has engaged to run it, Osborne Clarke.
- All aspects of these further claims are supposed to be totally secret, but many refer to events and times – for example, screenings of Top Of The Pops – which would appear to be impossible. The way the scheme works means they are subject to only the most cursory scrutiny.
- The lawyers who represent claimants will be paid between £11,000 and £16,000 for every claim they process. Under the scheme’s fixed ‘tariff’ of damages and legal fees, this means the lawyers will be paid up to ten times as much as victims. Next month, the scheme will be challenged in the Court of Appeal.
- The fees going to Osborne Clarke will take precedence over all other calls on Savile’s fast-shrinking estate. They have already taken £500,000 and submitted bills for a further £200,000 – still only a fraction of the sum they will eventually be due.
- What is left of the Savile estate is currently valued at about £3 million, and the payment of these fees will empty the pot. The only genuine victims likely to receive compensation are those abused at NHS hospitals or the BBC: in those cases, the burden will be transferred from the estate to tax and licence-fee payers. But this applies to less than half the claimants. The others will probably get nothing.
A SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL?
THE 2012 documentary that destroyed Savile’s reputation focused on allegations that he assaulted girls during visits he made to Duncroft, a secure Approved School in Surrey for teenage girls.
In the programme’s wake, more former Duncroft girls came forward, and at least 14 are now claiming compensation under the scheme. Some say Savile abused them when they were taken from Duncroft to recordings of his BBC TV shows.
Anonymity rules mean that most cannot be identified.
But, like Mrs Robinson, former Duncroft inmate Bebe Roberts went public.
She said in a 2012 interview that Savile assaulted her when she was 15 in 1965: ‘If you were walking down the corridor he would come up close and touch you inappropriately… He always came when we were getting ready for bed. There were girls in there who were quite terrified of him.’
Ms Roberts’s claims surprised her former room-mate, Susanne Cameron-Blackie. Now a lawyer and mental health expert, Ms Cameron-Blackie writes a blog about the Savile case under the name Anna Raccoon. She said: ‘I was staggered by her interviews, for the simple reason that in 1965, Jimmy Savile did not come near Duncroft. We never saw him.’
Yesterday, Ms Roberts said: ‘I’m sticking by my story. I will never say anything more about it.’ She said she had not claimed compensation.
This newspaper has uncovered evidence that Jimmy Savile did not visit Duncroft until early in 1974, when his name first appears in its visitors’ book – so casting doubt not only on Ms Roberts, but on the allegations of four women who have made compensation claims, because they say he abused them before this date.
The Mail on Sunday interviewed the woman responsible for Savile’s first visit to Duncroft. Susan – she has asked us not to publish her surname – revealed: ‘I met him on a weekend leave in late 1973.
‘My mother was managing a country club. There was a reception for police officers, and she needed a waitress, so asked me to fill in.’
The result was that Susan, who looked older than her years, was serving a group of detectives and their friend Savile.
He asked her to visit him at the flat he used at Broadmoor Hospital the next day.
They kissed, but she says that when he discovered she was only 15, he ceased intimate contact.
Later she begged her mother, Sheila, to ask Duncroft’s head, Margaret Jones, if Savile could visit. Sheila later confirmed she did so. Ms Jones – 93 but still mentally sharp – told the same story: ‘I never knew Savile until Susan’s mother asked if he could come and brought him there in 1974. I said Yes because I thought it would be good for the girls.’
The Savile compensation scheme was first advertised in national newspapers. Claims are checked by a small group of ‘scrutineers,’ made up of members of Savile’s family, a few friends and former colleagues.
They are prevented from discussing claims so it’s impossible to establish their veracity.
The task is still harder because the police, who seized Savile’s diaries that recorded his movements for more than 20 years, say they have ‘lost’ them.
But it is clear that many of the allegations being processed are vague. An analysis prepared for the Court of Appeal reveals that out of 211 claimants, eight say an incident of abuse took place at some time in a period lasting ten years or more. Eighty say an incident occurred in a period of between two and ten years. Sixty-one specify a year, and 62 both a year and a season.
There are claims by people who say they were assaulted at recordings of Top Of The Pops before it started in 1964, and others by those who describe assaults at the BBC TV Centre in London at recordings of programmes which were, in fact, filmed elsewhere.
The Savile compensation scheme was first advertised in national newspapers following the sex abuse scandal
One claimant described an assault by Savile in 1945, stating that he was a manager at a Mecca Ballroom. In 1945, Savile was 19 and a ‘Bevin boy’ miner.
Most of the claimants – 174 – are represented by a team from law firm Slater & Gordon, led by solicitor Liz Dux. She said she ‘cannot be sure there are no fraudulent claims’, though she said she has rejected claims which seemed improbable.
She also admitted that many claimants might never receive a meaningful payment: ‘They are going through an awful lot of pain in reliving their ordeals for a tiny monetary gain.’
The scheme’s tariff sets eight separate compensation bands: victims who were touched over their clothing should get £1,500, rising to £7,500 for those assaulted under their clothing, and a maximum £40,000 who were raped.
Ms Dux said most of her clients’ alleged abuse was at the lower end of the scale, so that they would be due less than £10,000 – or in other words, less than the £11,000 to £16,000 due to claimants’ lawyers like her under the scheme’s fixed legal fees, and in some cases, much less.
But she insisted: ‘The scheme was drawn up to keep legal costs to a minimum.’
However, the sums due to NatWest’s lawyers Osborne Clarke – who have appointed a team of barristers to assess all the claims, adding still more to their costs – would likely soon render the estate insolvent.
When that happened, Ms Dux said, ‘we will not be paid, and nor can the victims. If there’s not enough money left, the court will decide how to divide what’s left. Osborne Clarke will take precedence.’
The scheme is being challenged in the Court of Appeal by the trustees of Jimmy Savile’s charitable trust, to which he left almost all his estate.
Jo Summers, the trust’s solicitor, who is working on the case pro bono, said: ‘The money should go to the bona fide claimants. A scheme where the lawyers get more than the claimants cannot be right.
‘The level of scrutiny NatWest/Osborne Clarke are applying to the claims is ludicrously low – it will be almost impossible to tell which claims are genuine and which are not.’
Osborne Clarke and NatWest refused to comment.
A BBC spokesman said it would deal with claims where appropriate, but could not discuss any details.
Although she would not respond to this newspaper, Caroline Robinson has earlier insisted on her Facebook page: ‘My so-called family are trying to stop me telling the truth… I have told the truth, it’s a pity certain people can’t handle the truth.’
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2798457/how-savile-s-niece-s-demand-compensation-led-police-fraud-probe-daughter-says-story-false-211-claims-vast-payments-police-investigate.html#ixzz3GXhgymvb
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Edited by Ms Raccoon to add: As a result of the hard work that went into the making of this article – Detectives in West Yorkshire and London have launched a criminal inquiry into suspected fraud over claims of sex abuse by Jimmy Savile.
Ms Raccoon is currently just south of Paris en route to hospital for her 3 month scan – so if there is more than one link in your comment it is likely to be stuck in moderation for some time; I doubt that I will be back before Tuesday.
A tip of the Raccoon tail to David Rose for all his hard work – he has done a superb job validating this story and I salute his courage in standing tall in ‘Fleet Street’ (as was!) where others have hidden behind corporate security blankets….never let it be said that there are no proper investigative journalists left…
My original post from July 2013 on the Caroline Robinson story is HERE.