Savile row suit

Whatever we all know, think we know, suspect, believe, saw something on the web or have heard about the late and now (then, now then) largely unlamented Jimmy Savile I can tell you two 100% incontrovertible facts about him:

  • He was never convicted of a sex offence while he was alive.
  • He’s never going to be convicted of one now that he’s dead.

Personally I wouldn’t be all that surprised if there was something in some of the allegations. I’d heard there were rumours about him and I remember watching that episode of HIGNFY in which Paul Merton seemed pretty off toward Savile, though not to the extent claimed in the debunked but still occasionally mentioned hoax transcript – come on, everybody, you can’t seriously believe that if all that had been said in front of a studio audience of several hundred or more back in 1999 it wouldn’t have been all over the papers and Savile tortured to death by the Paedofinder-General long before now.

Jimmy Savile, by the Power vested in me by what’s been trending on Twitter, I find you GUILTY of PAEDOPHILIA.

It’s the BBC we’re talking about here, not the CIA. And even the CIA would have found that impossible to keep under wraps unless they’d borrowed some memory erasers off of the MIB. So I’m prepared to believe that what happened at the recording wasn’t vastly different from what was broadcast, which if you look for it online shows Paul Merton largely being his usual self. I remember at the time having the feeling Merton didn’t particularly like Savile but funnily enough there’s far less hostility than I thought I remembered. BBC cover up or just influence of that hoax transcript? And even if Merton was a bit offish was it because he knew, as many in the BBC are now claimed to have known, that Savile was a nonce but for the sake of his own job was keeping quiet about it beyond a couple of snide remarks? Or was it just because he didn’t like him much? Or, again, am I reading more into it than there ever was?

Certainly there’s a fair amount of reading stuff into things. Take something Savile said on that episode of HIGNFY that has been repeated a lot lately.

“I’m feared in every girls’ school in this country.”

The subtext of which, parts of the interwebs now tell us, is that Jimmy was boasting that he liked to screw schoolgirls. Which is a strange response given that the conversation actually goes like this:

Angus Deayton: You used to be a wrestler, didn’t you?
Jimmy Savile: I still am.
AD: Are you?
JS: I’m feared in every girls’ school in this country.
Audience laugh
Ian Hislop: You didn’t have a nickname or something?
JS: Yes: “loser”.

So let’s replay that with the interwebs’ alleged subtext in place.

Angus Deayton: You used to be a wrestler, didn’t you?
Jimmy Savile: I still am.
AD: Are you?
JS: I like to screw schoolgirls.
Audience laugh
Ian Hislop: You didn’t have a nickname or something?
JS: Yes: “loser”.

Bit of a non sequitur, isn’t it? Whatever we might suspect about Savile – and as I’ve said I wouldn’t be surprised – this isn’t any kind of evidence, much less proof. It doesn’t look like he was saying he was feared in every girls’ school because he was a 72 year old nonce with wandering hands but that he was such a shit wrestler that a girls’ school was the only place he had a chance of winning a wrestling match (and during the show Deayton does mention that Savile lost nearly every match).

But this and just about everything else he’s said, everything he’s done, every event in the man’s life is being seized upon and examined to see if there’s any possible way it can be interpreted as being an indicator confirming what we want to believe: that Savile was a pervert who’d do anything to anything. Visit to Broadmoor? Well, he liked to fuck mental patients, innit? Went to a funeral in a nice suit? Of course, Savile was a well known (to everyone but the person being told) necrophile and he always liked to dress well for his dates. Stoke Mandeville? Ah, spinal injuries patients can’t run away.

If all the rumours (and even some of the allegations) are to be believed Savile wasn’t merely a common or garden nonce but some-kind of überdeviant whose tastes in perversity went beyond pubescent girls but also included pederasty and necrophilia. Look, he was certainly a creepy old bastard but – and apologies for bringing up the Paedofinder-General again – I think we’re getting into exactly the kind of incessant hunting for evidence to the point of out-of-context twisting of things that Monkey Dust was satirising.

Was he a pervert? Was he smart enough to pick victims that were easier for the BBC and police to ignore or dismiss as unreliable? Did the police fuck up investigating the complaints that were made and, with no police action ever being taken, did an in denial BBC persuade themselves that there was nothing to the rumours? Did some at the BBC even turn a blind eye? I’m prepared to believe it’s possible, and Christ knows there’d be enough even if half of it’s true, but I’d be lying if I said I knew. And in a strict legal sense we’re never going to know because, as I said at the beginning, there are two facts that are beyond argument.

  • He was never convicted of a sex offence while he was alive.
  • He’s never going to be convicted of one now that he’s dead.

The former can’t be changed, and it’s very much to be hoped that nobody starts talking about the latter so that the allegations against Savile can be turned into formal charges and he can be tried in-very-permanent-absentia. A world in which someone can be convicted when they’re unable, rather than merely unwilling, to appear in court to defend themselves is far nastier, more frightening and dangerous to contemplate than one in which a combination of celebrity, value to a national broadcaster and police incompetence can shield a pervert. If it can be done to a dead man then why can’t it be done to someone who the police just can’t be arsed to go and find. Unless we’re crazy and knee-jerk prone enough to change that legal principle there will never ever be a trial in which evidence against Savile can be tested.

That ship has sailed, the chance for justice to be done and seen to be done lost forever. You will never read of Jimmy Savile the convicted child molestor because under any sane legal system – and for all its faults ours strives to be at least relatively sane – a conviction is now impossible. Even if it was legally possible it’s still pointless as even Hitler became untouchable once the son of a bitch was good and dead. His works have been torn down, he’s a near universal hate figure, his memory is reviled and his name spat upon. And he doesn’t care in the slightest. Death is the perfect statute of limitations.

We can, however, bring a civil suit against those who are said to have been involved in something, in this instance the BBC for allegedly sticking its corporate head in the sand (or worse) and letting him carry on and the NHS for letting him into Stoke Mandeville and other hospitals (I’m not clear on whether they knew anything or not makes much of a difference).

Liz Dux, a personal injury lawyer who has acted for people with severe spinal injuries and amputees, has been contacted by several woman who want to sue over the Savile allegations.

She is preparing cases against the BBC and the hospital on the grounds that they both have a duty of care to anyone who came into contact with their staff or agents.

“The case would be against the BBC or the hospital because they would be held vicariously liable in law on behalf of someone like Savile who was acting as their agent,” Dux told BBC Radio 4’s World at One on Friday.

“So in the case of the BBC where he abused people through his connection with programmes, for example the case about the girl who alleges she was abused in his changing room, then because of the close connection with the BBC, the BBC would be what we call vicariously liable in those circumstances,” she added.

“Likewise in the hospitals. He may not have been paid by the hospital but he’s there as their agent, then they owe a duty of care to those he abused.”

I’m not saying that those who say they were attacked have seen potential pound signs and have gone out shopping for a decent ambulance chaser to get some compo. If they were assaulted and someone deliberately or otherwise protected the assailant then they deserve some kind of reparation. But more than that they’d deserve some justice, and though anyone who was assaulted would probably feel some comfort through finally being believed (unless they hand’t ever said anything) what I am saying is that actual justice ain’t going to happen.

We can also say what we like about even the most wealthy and powerful dead people without fear of libel, which is why it’s not surprising that unpleasant stuff about such people can fail to emerge until too late. Alive, they’re intimidating: they can fight back, and in the form of expensive lawyers they’ll probably be able to hit harder than anyone who feels they were wronged. Not unreasonable, then, that many of Savile’s alleged victims have waited until now. But it is unfortunate because had those who complained at the time only to be brushed off been joined by enough other voices then perhaps it might have been possible to bring a criminal case against a living man. And maybe then he’d have been found guilty, but then again maybe he wouldn’t have. But assuming for the moment that he would have then I have to ask if someone who’s said nothing until now also failed those who said something at the time? Yes, silence is understandable, but if it’s true that even one investigation stalled through lack of evidence then any corroborating accounts that were never given…

Academic now: as I keep saying, we’ll never know. While we can call him a paedo, nonce, kiddy fiddler, wrongcock etc. we will never be able to call him a convicted sex offender. Jimmy Savile won’t care. Depending on whether he was guilty or innocent he went to his grave either unaware that his name was about to be blackened or aware that he got away with it. He is beyond justice, both the kind that exonerates the innocent and the kind that punishes the guilty. Apart from making everyone in the UK pay a little bit more for the NHS and the BBC than they do already (or take some of what’s already been taken – take your pick) all that we’re left with is, well, this.


Posted on October 14, 2012, in Uncategorized and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. Well said. A lot of the stories sound like they have substance, but then you re-read them and can find holes in many.

    For instance he was given keys to Broadmoor. Gold plated ones we hear. Then we’re told that he had access to all areas of the hospital. We are led to believe via those gold plated keys. But think for a second. Would you use gold plated keys? Would working keys be gold plated? And there isn’t a single key for the whole of Broadmoor, too much of a security risk. There are dozens and only those entitled would have the subset they need. If JS did have keys he might have had access to the canteen.

    That’s only one story, but though there might be one or two true stories all the others whip it up into hysteria which devalues the real cases and also complicates the whole situation.

  2. I agree, there are it seems only two default reactions to paedophilia – hysteria and denial. Both assist rather than hinder the deviants. However twenty-five years ago a comedian long since forgotten did directly stand up to Savile when he was not only alive but at the height of his fame.

    • Without even clicking the link I’m going to guess that it’s Jerry Sadowitz. Do I win $10? 🙂

      Oh, it’s been removed. Still, I’m going to assume it was the Sadowitz clip, and yeah, good for him for daring to do what others didn’t. But the same thing still holds – it’s not really likely that Sadowitz himself had actual knowledge of events or real evidence or he’d have taken it to the cops. I’m speculating but I imagine he heard the rumours both that Savile was a sex offender and that it was always being hushed up and thought ‘fuck that’ and included it in his act.

      It’d be surprising if Savile never heard about it and we might think it was telling that he never sued Sadowitz, but that’s still speculative. And I won’t say absolutely that he was a nonce of any kind, let alone one with such apparently wide tastes that a live adult female is about all he wouldn’t want to have sex with, when so much is speculative. But having said that if I had a daughter I wouldn’t have let her within a mile of him either.

  3. How else to keep the proles entertained? This is the perfect scenario.

    Well known personality (fortunately deceased, so he can’t hire a lawyer); underage girls to titillate all the dirty old men and allow all the interfering public morality busybodies to tut-tut and “something-must-be-done” about; lots of opportunity (and potential profits) for wannabe ambulance chasers and their venal legal advisers; something for the politicians to pontificate about; jobs for jobsworths in the inevitable “enquiry” which will ensue; a good opportunity for the “think of the children” charities to garner a bit more funding; lots of good copy for the MSM, the list goes on.

    Win win.

    And of course there’s the added bonus of a prospective witch-hunt for any poor soul who was associated with him, (everybody loves a good witch-hunt) which could keep the show on the road for a year or more. Bloody fantastic!

    The only real loser is Mr Savile, and he’s dead anyway, so that doesn’t count.


    Mr AE., you seem to have become very lax in your blogging.

    You must realise that us compulsive commenters need a constant supply of fresh blogs from such as you so as to be able to either nod sagely in agreement with your profound insights, or to launch vitriolic attacks on the unutterable fuckwittery of what you have had the temerity to post.

    I’m sure you will come up with some lame excuse like “But I have a life outside blogging”, but I’m afraid that’s not good enough. I may have to lobby for a ban on “lives outside blogging” on the basis of the dangers of “second-hand-not-blogging.” Good God man, think of the children!

    • Again, I can only agree with you. The drip drip revealing of every salacious allegation, the ever more shrill ‘something must be done’ crowd, attention seekers, a lawyers field day and the ever present risk of summary justice at the hands of the less well educated.

      Hysteria followed shortly by, as you said, witch-hunt.

      On the other side is the usual institutional response of denial. It is a no win situation for them, if they deal with the matter properly they become known as, for example, the school that employs paedophiles rather than being given credit for taking complaints seriously. They make the judgement that quietly dealing with the matter is preferable because of publicity and public reaction and we are agreed that in that respect they are right. What’s more the official busy-bodies would then get involved and start grandstanding by finding failings with the institution’s ‘procedures’.

      The very same ‘robust’ systems put in place for safeguarding children draw institutions unwillingly into a mode of quietly dealing with the situation.

      Both reactions are naive and cowardly. It is a problem and could be much less so with a process where complaints are heard and the accused is not vilified before being tried with due process and convicted. Are we grown up enough to do that? Or is it asking too much of the general public?

  4. This must be the most sensible article I’ve read about this since this whole circus started. Thank you, I agree with every word.

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