There was a regular commentator on this blog who used to delight in taking me to task for my ‘privileged’ background, usually in disparaging tones. His assumption was one he was forced to eat for breakfast when I penned the Duncroft series of posts and he realised just how ‘privileged’ I had been…!
Assumptions are dangerous things. They emanate from a view that all is black and white – it rarely is.
When the Newsnight story first broke, my only interest was in whether the BBC really was censoring a story. The media, that is what this blog is all about. When the ‘first brave victim’ gave up her anonymity to tell her version of Jimmy Savile running round the dormitories at Duncroft abusing girls will-nilly, I was utterly gob-smacked.
It made no difference to me that ‘there had been rumours’ around Savile for years, nor whether he was friend of the powerful and famous – nor anything remotely connected to Jimmy Savile, a person I had never met.
What did make a difference to me was that I knew quite simply that the only part of the story in the public domain incontrovertibly could not be TRUE. I was there, I had woken up opposite the ‘first brave victim’ every morning of a life lived in that same dormitory long ago, and I had never set eyes on Jimmy Savile.
Even then, I left a loophole in that first post through which an explanation could have crept – there had been a brief couple of weeks at the end of the year when I was absent – perhaps, I posited, Savile had carried out his ‘abuse’ then, and my dormitory companions had simply never mentioned it. Highly unlikely, I agree – but you see, I don’t make ‘if it’s not black it must be white’ assumptions. Just because I didn’t see it, doesn’t mean it didn’t happen – maybe I slept through all the excitement!
Shortly there came a ‘backstage’ explanation – Bebe Roberts was [Quote] ‘just trying to be helpful’ and shore up the story. Why would the story need shoring up, I asked myself? And by a patently false allegation?
I don’t propose to go through letter and verse here of the entire saga, it is all here on this site, every twist and turn, under the Duncroft/Savile tab above the masthead. I have learnt a lot since those early days. I had never heard of ‘corroboration by volume’; had no knowledge of the rash of allegations that had seen families torn apart by allegations that were always remarkably similar in style: there seemed to be a green Book of Tropes where ‘victims’ were concerned.
Nobody ever said to them ‘tell anybody and I’ll knock your head of’ – it was always a whispered ‘it’ll be our little secret’. Their breath always ‘stank of stale beer and cigarettes’ – the perpetrators were never non-drinkers or non-smokers. I came to the conclusion that either the perpetrators or the victims were working to a script. I wasn’t sure which.
Shall I repeat that? I wasn’t sure which!
I am still not sure, despite have unwillingly found myself immersed in the land of paedophilia for nigh on two and half years now. Inevitably I have found myself worrying away at the loose threads of the Savile saga, because the one fact of which I am irrefutably sure is that the ‘first Savile victim’ was lying.
Every time I tug at a thread, I find myself not unravelling the story, but holding onto a short piece of cotton that goes nowhere. I don’t do it to ‘defend Savile’ or because I am a ‘paedo-enabler’, as the popular taunt goes. I do it because I want to find the one piece of evidence that will show me why it was important to ‘shore up’ this story. I haven’t found it yet.
The title of Friday’s piece, ‘Where’s the Meat, Mum’ was no accident. I groaned to myself when that rash of reports came out – I don’t want to do this any more! Such is the climate of fear around the subject of historical child abuse now, that if I don’t, no one else will. I can understand those who put paying their mortgages, supporting their families above searching for the truth.
I, however, will go on reading the actual reports, for as long as I can – and if pointing out that the reports published so far are a long catalogue of allegations of ‘truly awful, dreadful abuse’ allegedly carried out by Savile against ‘vulnerable children in care homes’ who cannot even demonstrate that they, or their parents, were ever, at any time, even in the same country as Savile, for God’s sake; or that there is something terribly wrong when a Policeman reports that, whilst on duty, he saw Savile taking teenage girls onto ‘his boat’ – a boat that sunk when the Policeman was a child, is befitting of the hostility and abuse I am subjected to – well then, so be it.
If Savile was this terrible predatory paedophile that abused thousands of girls and boys, I would expect after three years that at least one piece of incontrovertible evidence, just one, would have appeared, and the ‘story’ would not need to be shored up with forged letters from police forces, false allegations, the only people who ‘knew about it at the time’ conveniently now dead, verbal abuse from retired/fired police constables, or the vitriolic hostility from activists utterly outraged that ‘years of rumours’ are not sufficient for me to understand that I should cease searching for the truth because I’m ‘damaging the cause’.
The Yewtree allegations that Peter Spindler said proved Savile was Britain”s most prolific paedophile have been hidden from view; we have had to take it on trust that there was good reason for millions of NHS pounds, millions of tax payers pounds, millions of licence fee payers pounds, to be expended on investigating this ‘truly awful, dreadful’ abuse.
Now we find that in many cases, money was spent investigating reports ‘that Savile may have walked across the car park of the Maudsley Hospital 30 years ago’. Walking across a car park, the sole allegation, does not qualify as ‘truly awful, dreadful abuse’. There was a reason why these sort of allegations were included in Yewtree – and that reason was to ‘shore up the story’, corroboration by volume.
Now we hear finally from the Secretary of State. He tells us something the Charities Commission are somehow unaware of. He tells us that:
The right hon. Gentleman asked about the value of the Savile estate. A total of £40 million remains under management in his charities. That money will be made available to meet claims made by Savile’s victims, and if it is not enough, the Government will meet any further claims through the NHS Litigation Authority.
Now that is truly odd. The Charities Commission were of the opinion that in 2012 there was:
The general charitable trust’s latest accounts, filed with the Charity Commission in March of this year, show it has funds totalling £3.7m in 2011/12. It had an income of £132,546 and spent £43,866 in the same year.
The Stoke Mandeville charity has funds of £1.7m, according to the Charity Commission files.
It is estimated that Savile raised £40 million in charitable funds in his entire lifetime – and spent it on Stoke Mandeville, amongst other places. Is the Secretary of State trying to tell us that he may have raised twice that – and concealed it from the Charity Commissioners? Or does he mean that the sum total of the claims that are expected to result from the amalgamated dross that comprise the Yewtree allegations – now seemingly accepted on the basis that there was ‘no evidence’ to the contrary – is going to cost taxpayers in excess of £37 million, once the Savile estate has been denuded by the lawyers.
Don’t journalists have access to calculators any longer?
This isn’t about trying to prove Savile innocent; it is about trying to understand how on earth Miss Jones’ nephew getting his knickers in a twist over his grand-mothers will, could possibly have led a country buckling under austerity to denude the NHS of £37 million; it is about trying to make sense of an insane situation.
It is about making public the steps that led us to this dark place.
So, tough love – there will be more reports tomorrow and the next day, we need to know what Yewtree actually amounts to.
You are wasting your breath sending me more e-mails – it is watery bile off a Dux back.
Criminal Prosecution Service,
Slater and Gordon