100 years ago last year, a bitter little man, a man who hoped to be ‘somebody’ one day, a man with his head full of the ‘injustices’ of his life, but who, despite his poor background had had an excellent education, albeit rusticated from his posh school for hooliganism, was filled with a revolutionary fervour – he would ‘topple the toffs’, he would remake the world as he wanted it – and so he became a small bit player in cataclysmic events that would reshape the world for ever, cause untold misery for millions, bankrupt countries.
His name was Gavrilo Princip, a name that has sunk into well deserved obscurity, not the fame he desired. We remember only the devastating effects of his actions. He shot Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, an act which historians accept begat World War One. (The pedants have got me already – the 100th anniversary was two years ago not one!)
The ripples from that human conflagration shaped a generation; divided families; brought entire sections of society opprobrium and demonisation. Destroyed lives, careers, families, reputations.
I was reminded of those events yesterday when the final report of the Savile saga was published; as the media exploded in an orgy of claims and counter claims; apologies demanded and refused; colleagues eyed one another with suspicion, nay entire families did.
It was just such an uninspiring, obscure and bitter little man who set this chain of events in motion. Expensively schooled despite his humble background, albeit rusticated for hooliganism, he too would be filled with revolutionary fervour – he became one of the army of faux-socialists.
He enjoyed privileges many of us would have given our eye teeth for; loving parents to help him through his exams at the country’s best schools, a university degree entirely paid for by the tax payer, and a securely pensioned job travelling the world for one of the great British institutions. Enraged by bitterness over a family will that had failed to enrich him? A mummy’s boy who took on the mantle of his mother’s bitterness towards her sister in law? Who can begin to understand the workings of that tortured mind?
History will soon forget Meirion Jones’ name, but the ramifications of his desire for fame and glory back in 2011 will live with us for decades.
I was suffused with unspeakable anger last night, after reading Dame Janet’s report. Not, I hasten to add, at Dame Janet. I think she has achieved something remarkable; she has clawed her way through the bitterness, the grievances, the gossip, the alleged ‘benefit’ of hindsight, the score settling, the posturing of journalists, the strictures of legal definitions – aye, and the arse covering – and arrived at something approximating to the closest to the truth we will ever get.
Nobody ‘knew’ anything, but the picture they all drew of their impression of Savile as a working class miner, an insecure little man who had learnt how to devise this new persona – the disc jockey, the centre of attention – by the most vulgar of gimmicks. The gold lamé suits, the bling jewellery, the cigar – symbol of the toffs! – the grandiose gestures; hand kissing, arm kissing – courtly behaviour copied from another age. He was a ridiculous, laughable, socially inept, irritating little creep, that I would have loathed – and loath him the Reithian guardians of a bygone age did. But they needed him, he had become the Pied Piper of that burgeoning audience – teenagers.
Men who had once donned a dinner jacket to be properly dressed to read the news on the radio gulped back their distaste, and picking him up by virtual tongs – deposited him at the top of the BBC hierarchy – a star, their new talent. You could say ‘they took one for the team’ – the influx of disc jockeys saved their bacon, saw off the pirate stations that were threatening their world order – and they could retire to an ivory tower and await their pension.
Do you wonder that Dame Janet had to devote an entire chapter to the rumourmongering and gossip that was rife in the lower orders? The canteens and bars must have been stuffed to the gills with lurid tales shored up by jealousy – behind his helpfully absent back; one of the complaints was that he never used the bars, didn’t buy them a pint like a proper man….
He was a ‘gang-enforcer’, there was ‘something dark about him’, ‘what do all those girls see in him’, ‘yeah, young girls too – just the ones I wish were screaming for my attention’!
Today we are told that the report is a ‘whitewash’.
Ask yourself, should you be working today in some large organisation – how likely are you to pop into the CEOs office and pass on that choice piece of gossip you heard in the loading bay that old Arthur in accounts had his leg over the young girl in reception? You wouldn’t, simply because it would be gossip – but now that Yewtree has apparently blessed that gossip with the gloss of ‘truth’, the cyberwaves are full of people raging that it is inconceivable that those rumours were never passed onto senior managers. That it could only be that they lived ‘in fear’ of losing their jobs, that the system is ‘rotten to the core’.
No. What is ‘rotten to the core’ is the intention of some to transform Britain into a country where mere gossip, rumour, hearsay, is enough to banish an enemy, an outsider, a misfit, to the outskirts of society. There be dragons there.
I was angry because I read through page after page, 792 of them, looking for the evidence that would uphold Meirion Jones’ actions – before everyone had the ‘benefit of Yewtree hindsight’. Before a nation had been groomed to believe every last allegation anyone threw at the Savile name. Before the media picture desks groomed us to believe that he always had receding hair, a red nose and bulging eyes throughout his entire life. I wanted to see what Dame Janet made of the very building blocks of this saga of the Pantomime Paedophile.
I already knew that Operation Outreach had concluded that Susan was telling the truth – that Savile first visited Duncroft school on the 21st January 1974. That instantly knocked out five of the allegations made by girls who absolutely ‘must be believed’ that they were assaulted there in the years before that. Sadly Dame Janet didn’t manage to establish the precise transmission date of the Clunk-Click episode where Karin Ward said she saw ‘a Duncroft girl having sex behind a curtain with a celebrity’ in Savile’s dressing room. She did manage to establish that this was a crowded room where no one else apparently noticed this extraordinary event take place.
The Starr v. Ward case legally established that Freddie Starr ‘behaved inappropriately’ – but not criminally – towards some of the girls. Specifically that he managed to put his hand down his tight trousers and extract just the one pubic hair which he ceremonially handed to the lying toe-rag I am forced by law to refer to as Miss ‘C’.
I would encourage the gentlemen amongst you, even the ladies, to repeat this feat. At best you might grasp half a dozen hairs, pull the skin painfully upwards – and extract none of the hairs. You can barely move your hand inside tight trousers, certainly not with the precision required to remove just one hair….
Whilst we are on the subject – another experiment for you. Please, please, only try this with your wife – I don’t want anybody getting arrested. Sit on a bench, place your hand palm upwards on the bench next to you, and invite your good lady to sit on your hand. Now with her weight on your hand, even if she is an anorexic dwarf, please force her skirt upwards, move her knickers to one side, and ‘digitally penetrate’ her. Don’t worry, she won’t be offended – you won’t be able to do it.
These are just some of the allegations that have been accepted since hindsight hove into view – sheesh! I nearly forgot – for full investigative authenticity, I need you to don a hot and heavy Orinoco ‘Womble’ outfit, film a ‘Christmas Special, and minutes later rape two young children, having carefully separated them from their family in a crowded environment, and so terrorise them by saying ‘this will be our little secret’ that you can return them to said family within minutes without anyone suspecting a thing. Well, if you say you can, I’ll believe you, but its not easy.
Anyway, back to the building blocks of the Duncroft allegations, before lawyers started putting advertisements for ‘victims’ of this ‘prolific paedophile’ in foreign newspapers.
Dame Janet interviewed three Duncroft girls who claimed to be victims of Savile at Duncroft. Karin Ward and the two that ‘dare not bare their name’. The Police and Dame Janet between them have interviewed a hundred or so other Duncroft girls and staff, who saw nothing, heard nothing, and were unable to reinforce Meirion’s blockbuster tale – so we are stuck with the three of them to account for World War l breaking out in the wake of his wails that his bestest ever story was being suppressed, censored by those evil toffs at the top.
One claims that Savile brushed his hand against her breast as he was fixing a ‘Clunk-Click’ badge to her clothing. One claims that Savile – after she had sat on his knee voluntarily – put his arms around her and also brushed his hand against her breast. Dame Janet accepts them both as truthful – and so do I.
Technically, any ‘touch’ of that nature, even over clothing, could be charged as assault, if no consent had been granted. So guilty as charged Mr Savile, you do seem to be the sort of embarrassingly octopus ‘uncle’ that most of us avoided at family parties. It doesn’t make you a dyed in the wool paedophile of course, and certainly doesn’t justify Merrion figuratively shooting the Archduke!
Perhaps Karin Ward will prove me wrong – but no! She now claims that Savile’s crimes amounted to her realising that he had an erection when she sat on his knee.
Perhaps the day will come when it becomes a criminal offence to have an erection – but for the sake of the human race – it ain’t here yet.
That’s it folks. That is what Meirion huffed and puffed and blew the walls of the BBC down for. He was lucky, it happened to coincide with the Winsor report saying we didn’t need as many policemen as we had; with Leveson threatening to silence the media; with the Murdoch press under attack for hacking; with the decline and near bankruptcy of some of our previously revered children’s charities.
Meirion fired a shot at just the right moment to ignite a powder keg. I will probably be the only person who remembers his name – everyone else will just remember the magnitude of the damage caused by the explosion.
I am quite prepared to believe that Savile had a lot of negative attributes – I would have run a mile from such a fake personality. I am quite prepared to believe that he was sexually as well as socially inept, might well have been a thoroughly unpleasant and selfish ‘lay’.
I’m quite prepared to believe that in common with half the younger members of ‘swinging London’ he didn’t stop to check whether 16 really meant 16 or ‘will be in a few months; meanwhile I’m here on a plate for you’. I’m quite prepared to believe that he thought hugging and kissing strangers was what was expected of ‘celebrities’ when those strangers had been queuing up at his door for hours screaming his name.
I have followed this story more closely than most – and I’m still not convinced that Savile was a paedophile. I’m even less convinced than I was before I read the Dame Janet Smith report.
Damn you Meirion, I should have punched your nose, not wiped the snot off it.
4 years ago, I wrote this – I haven’t changed my mind a jot.
So, to be sure, I want to see heads roll at the BBC. Not trustees, or the Director-General, token sacrificial lambs. I’ll start with the despicably dishonest Meirion Jones. On a pike. Outside BBC headquarters. Then I’ll have the scalp of each and every person involved in that half baked Newsnight programme, aye, cameraman, sound man, the lot. Each and every one of them could have stood up and said ‘ this will do nothing for this girl, she is vulnerable, protect her, don’t exploit her’. They didn’t. Too frightened for their careers. Isn’t that what they said about those who knew of Savile’s activities? Does it make any difference that she appeared to be willing, enjoying it even? Isn’t that what they said about Savile’s victims?
Did anybody else notice that Operation Elvedon snuck out its death notice yesterday undercover of all the excitement?