Q&A: Jimmy Savile abuse

Jimmy Savile Jimmy Savile was one of Britain's best known presenters

A Metropolitan Police report into allegations of sexual assault by Jimmy Savile has found the presenter and DJ was a "prolific, predatory sex offender" who abused more than 200 people over a 60-year period.

A second report into the actions of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has concluded that Savile could have been prosecuted in 2009, if prosecutors had taken the victims' claims more seriously. He died aged 84 in October 2011.

How many allegations of abuse by Savile are there?

The Metropolitan Police launched a "formal criminal investigation" into Savile's alleged offences on 19 October 2012, called Operation Yewtree.

On 11 January, the Met and the children's charity the NSPCC published the findings of the inquiry into claims of abuse by Savile in a report titled Giving Victims a Voice.

Police said they have recorded 214 crimes in 28 police force areas against Savile, including 34 allegations of rape.

The report said that 73% of the victims were under 18 and 82% were female. The majority of victims were aged between 13 and 16, with the youngest victim an eight year old boy and the oldest a 47-year old woman.

Scotland Yard concluded that Savile was able, through his celebrity status, to "hide in plain sight" while abusing his victims.

About 600 people came forward to provide information, 450 complaints of which related to Savile.

The report said the disparity between the number of recorded crimes (214) and the number of people who had come forward (450) is due to some of the alleged victims wishing to keep their identity secret, and others who did not want the matter to be reported as a crime or were unable to recall enough detail.

Commander Peter Spindler, head of Operation Yewtree, said their findings painted "a stark picture emphasising the tragic consequences of when vulnerability and power collide".

Peter Watt, of the NSPCC, said Savile was "without doubt one of the most prolific sex offenders we have ever come across".

Operation Yewtree consists of three strands - abuse claims against Savile, claims against Savile and others, and claims against others. Investigations will continue into the latter two strands.

The report effectively marks the end of the Yewtree inquiry into Savile.

What timespan do the allegations cover?

The Met report said the abuse began in 1955 in Manchester. One of the earliest allegations is by a woman who was 14 in the 1960s, who has made a complaint against Savile to Lancashire police.

The police report said the majority of Savile's offences took place in a 10-year period between 1966 and 1976.

Police said the allegations date up to 2009.

Were there previous allegations against Savile?

In 2007, Surrey Police questioned Savile over allegations of child sex abuse in the 1970s. The matter was referred to the CPS, which advised there was insufficient evidence to take further action.

In 2008, Sussex Police received a complaint of sexual assault against Savile which allegedly took place in Worthing in 1970. But police later said the victim was "unwilling to co-operate in any investigation".

Savile was also named, although not publicly, during a 2008 police investigation into abuse at Haut de Garenne children's home in Jersey.

In December 2011, BBC Newsnight decided not to broadcast the results of a six-week investigation into claims that Savile, who had recently died and had been a star BBC presenter from the 1960s to 1980s, had sexually abused young people.

An internal review by the CPS, published on 11 January 2013, concluded that Savile could have been prosecuted while he was alive over three allegations of sexual offences if police and prosecutors had taken a "different approach".

The director of public prosecutions, Keir Starmer, apologised for the shortcomings of the CPS, saying that while their inquiry found "no improper motive", the alleged victims had been treated with "a degree a caution which was neither justified or required".

When did the allegations come into the public eye?

ITV broadcast an investigation into Savile's behaviour called Exposure: The Other Side of Jimmy Savile on 3 October 2012.

In it, several women alleged he sexually abused them when they were under age. This sparked a flurry of allegations in the following days from other alleged victims.

Which institutions have been called into question?

The BBC has been criticised for not questioning Savile's behaviour or flagging up any abuse allegations during his long career at the corporation, during which he presented several television shows including Jim'll Fix It.

Labour's deputy leader Harriet Harman has said the claims about Savile "cast a stain" on the corporation.

Culture Secretary Maria Miller said "very real concerns" about public trust in the BBC had been raised.

The Department of Health has said it will investigate its own conduct in appointing Savile to lead a "taskforce" overseeing the management of high security psychiatric hospital Broadmoor in 1988. It comes after the Sun newspaper said Savile assaulted a 17-year-old patient during a visit as a hospital fund-raiser in the 1970s.

A total of 49 incidents of abuse are also said to have taken place at 13 hospitals, including Great Ormond Street, Stoke Mandeville and Leeds General Infirmary, where Savile volunteered. Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust said it would help police if asked to do so.

One offence was recorded at Wheatfields Hospice in Leeds in 1977, Scotland Yard's report said.

The BBC has learned that some of the women making abuse claims may seek compensation from the BBC and from Stoke Mandeville Hospital.

Nick Pollard Nick Pollard was called in to investigate why Newsnight dropped its Savile investigation

What is the BBC doing?

Former BBC director general George Entwistle announced on 13 October that the corporation would hold two inquiries into the sexual abuse claims made against Savile.

The first, into the decision by Newsnight to drop its investigation into Savile, was headed by former head of Sky News, Nick Pollard. He published his report on 19 December.

Mr Pollard criticised the BBC for "chaos and confusion" in management but found no evidence that the Newsnight film was dropped because the BBC was to run a Savile tribute programme during the 2011 Christmas schedule.

In his report, Mr Pollard said: "The decision to drop the original investigation was flawed and the way it was taken was wrong but I believe it was done in good faith. It was not done to protect the Savile tribute programmes or for any improper reason."

The BBC has accepted Mr Pollard's findings in full. The editor and deputy editor of Newsnight are to be replaced. Head of BBC News Helen Boaden, who had stepped aside during the inquiry, will return to her post. The deputy director of news Stephen Mitchell has resigned and will leave the corporation next year.

The other investigation is into whether culture and practice at the BBC at the time enabled Savile to carry out the sexual abuse of children. This is being led by former Appeal Court judge Dame Janet Smith.

Dame Janet's inquiry has launched an appeal for witnesses and a website has been set up giving contact details and listing groups which provide support for victims.

The Dame Janet Smith Review website says it would like to hear from those who were the subject of inappropriate sexual conduct by the presenter on BBC premises or on location, and from those who were aware of or suspected such conduct.

It also seeks information from anyone who complained or raised concerns about Savile within the BBC, and from people familiar with its culture and practices, including those who held senior positions.

Dame Janet will also consider whether the BBC child protection and whistle-blowing policies are fit for purpose.

Both inquiries have been commissioned by the BBC Executive Board. Mr Entwistle also announced a third strand to the inquiries, led by Dinah Rose QC, which will relate to sexual harassment at the BBC.

How has Savile's legacy been affected?

Two charities set up in Savile's name are to close. The Jimmy Savile Charitable Trust and the Jimmy Savile Stoke Mandeville Hospital Trust said they had considered continuing under new names, but felt they would always be linked in the public's mind with the late presenter. They said all their funds would be distributed to other charities.

Meanwhile, various affiliations and commemorations to Savile's memory have now been removed, following the flood of abuse allegations.

A footpath sign in Scarborough commemorating Savile, who often stayed in the seaside town, was taken down by the borough council.

A plaque outside his former flat there was also removed after the words "rapist" and "paedophile" were written on it.

Leeds City Council took Savile's name off an inscription on a wall commemorating high profile citizens at the city's Civic Hall, and the owners of a conference centre in Leeds named after the former star announced it would be rebranded "out of respect" for public opinion.

A Stoke Mandeville Hospital cafe called "Jimmy's" in honour of Savile could be renamed, according to volunteering charity WRVS. The cafe for visitors and patients was opened by Savile in 2005 in recognition of his fund-raising for the spinal injuries unit.

A triple headstone marking Savile's grave in Scarborough's Woodlands Cemetery, which was only installed in September, has been destroyed according to his family's wishes.

Alec Shelbrooke, Conservative MP for Elmet and Rothwell, has called for further action.

"If he's found guilty, I believe he should be moved to an anonymous burial site, that all references to him on the streets should be removed," he said.

Could Savile lose his knighthood?

Savile was awarded the OBE in 1971, and received his knighthood from the Queen in 1996.

However, the Cabinet Office says there are no legal arrangements in place to remove honours posthumously.

Part of the reason is that an OBE or a knighthood expires when a person dies, and it is highly unusual for there to be calls for a recipient to be stripped of their honour after they have died.

However, a Cabinet Office spokesman said it was possible that as a result of Savile's case that the Honours Forfeiture Committee - which decides whether knighthoods should be taken away - might reconsider the rules.

Meanwhile, the head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales has written to the Vatican, asking senior Church officials in Rome to investigate if Savile's papal knighthood can be posthumously removed and nullified.

The honour - which he received in 1990 - is one of the highest awards the Pope can bestow.

Is anyone else being drawn into the scandal?

Revelations of alleged abuse committed by Savile have prompted claims about other public figures - most stemming from the 1970s and 1980s.

Karin Ward - a contributor to the original BBC Newsnight investigation - says she saw pop star Gary Glitter having sexual intercourse with a girl from the Duncroft Approved School in Savile's dressing room. She described the room as "packed" and said Savile was present at the time. Glitter has denied the claims.

Ms Ward repeated the allegations on Panorama and said she had been angered by the decision not to air her interview.

Broadcasters Liz Kershaw and Sandi Toksvig have spoken of being groped on air by male colleagues, and former Radio 1 DJ Dave Lee Travis has said he "totally refutes" accusations that he touched two women inappropriately.

The BBC is considering changing the name of a part of New Broadcasting House in London named after John Peel, after claims that the veteran DJ - who died in 2004 - made a 15-year-old pregnant.

Ten people have been questioned under Operation Yewtree, of which nine have been arrested. They include comedian Jim Davidson and entertainer Freddie Starr.

How has Savile's family reacted?

Savile's nephew Roger Foster has described his family's "hurt" over the sex abuse claims.

He said the allegations have left them questioning their feelings towards Savile and his charitable work.

More on This Story

Jimmy Savile scandal

More UK stories


Features & Analysis

Elsewhere on the BBC

  • Wall art Off the wall

    Belfast is shifting its creative focus - from unconventional street art to modern sculptures


  • A motorised skateboadThe Travel Show Watch

    The motorised skateboard which can reach speeds of 17mph (27 km/h) and other travel technology

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.