Was Jimmy Savile Innocent?

Everyone now knows that Jimmy Savile was Britain's worst ever sexual offender. But was he? After all, he never faced justice in his lifetime. We meet those who believe that Savile is nothing more than a convenient establishment scapegoat.

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Was Jimmy Savile Innocent?

Was Jimmy Savile Innocent?

Jimmy Savile died innocent, by every measure of the values we allege ourselves to hold. He was never charged with any crime during his life - much less found guilty. Rumours, it is true, had circulated - especially online - but then rumours abound almost any public person. In this, the 800th anniversary of King John affixing his seal to Magna Carta, there is much self-congratulation among the British elite about our democracy and the rule of law. As such, Jimmy Savile is not only officially innocent, but innocent in point of legal fact and will remain so now forever.

Only of course, he isn't. By now, there can scarce be a person alive who doesn't know about the allegations against him. As I write this, in February 2015, another slew of reports is due to be published about his association with the NHS and Stoke Mandeville hospital in particular. His shade will, once again, be brought in front of us in chains for our horror and mockery.

Regardless of the official legal status of his corpse, he is guilty beyond any and all doubt in the public mind.

To some sceptical minds, the recurrent focus on Savile is a convenient way for the current establishment to draw attention from real, current and ongoing problems with child protection in the country. The scandal at Rotherham - with its 1400 known victims - is still unfolding, and the chance to turn our minds to the alleged crimes of a dead celebrity must have some temptation for media and the establishment alike.

Still, we are where we are. By now you will be familiar with the facts. Jimmy Savile was dogged by allegations throughout his life, and only after his death did people feel free to come forward to tell how he abused them, when his celebrity could no longer protect him.

The numbers grew until hundreds of people were telling similar stories about his behaviour. While some lie on the outside of credulity (in particular his alleged connection to Satanic Practices) could all these people truly be wrong? Are they all malicious? Various panels tasked to look into his past argue not. The police, NHS, politicians and child abuse charities are now unanimous that the man they so recently championed was, in fact, so duplicitous that for decades he abused children - literally under the noses of their protectors. Fact files and dossiers have been created and disseminated. Savile's posthumous ruination is complete.

When his body lie in state at the Queen's Hotel in Leeds, I was eating a meal just up the road. Crowds were queuing to sign the book of remembrance. Within a year, the memorial marking the spot where his body was buried had been destroyed by his own family and calls were made to have his remains excavated and destroyed - as if he might rise from the dead to stalk the land once more.

When such a febrile atmosphere thrives, facts become secondary to the narrative. Savile had faced allegations - and even been questioned by the police about them - but never faced a court. As such, the facts now being arrayed before the public have not had the same evidential tests as those tried in open court, as our laws and customs demand.

Nonetheless, in the eyes of the public, Savile is guilty. A mere oddity in life, he is now known as "Britain's Worst Ever Sexual Predator." Worse than Sydney Cooke. Worse than Ian Brady. Worse than Ian Huntley. Beyond all pale or comparison.

But not everyone cleaves to this narrative. There remain people who believe that Savile's reputation is being unfairly maligned.

Here, for example is YouTube user 'TheScribe' outlining why he has some scepticism about the claims made in relation to Savile. Without denying the possibility of him guilty, he raises some interesting questions about how Savile is being judged and how the nature and weight of evidence differs from that in other cases such as Harold Shipman.

In a fascinating exchange broadcast on Radio 4 on the 26th February 2014, a former nurse from Stoke Mandeville who worked in close quarters to Savile for many years tells the obviously incredulous interviewer that she never heard or experienced any evidence of Savile's alleged behaviour.

The Evidence

Unless you have been living on the moon for the last year or two, you will know that the evidence against Savile is incontrovertible. Numerous reports have been compiled, comprising witness statements from hundreds of people who were aware of, or were actual victims of Savile's activities.

But how well do these claims stack up? In many cases, not only is there no corroborating evidence, but evidence that actually disproves the asserted claim. One small example: The London Borough of Hounslow investigated a claim made by a former resident of a children's home in the borough (referred to only as 'XX') that he had been abused by Savile several times while under 6 years old.

The full report (titled: "Investigation into an allegation about Jimmy Savile at The "Little Ride" Children’s Home, Brentford, London Borough of Hounslow") is worth reading to show the seriousness with which this claim was taken, and how deep the enquiries run.

The claims against Savile are given in great detail, but the exhaustive investigation revealed no corroborating evidence. Staff at the home at the time had no recollection of Savile ever having visited. Local media carried no reports of the DJ visiting. Detailed daily log entries during the period do not mention Savile. In short, despite many many enquiries, no evidence could be adduced to prove that Savile had ever even visited the home. Perhaps because of the pressure and sensation of the alleged Savile connection, the report concludes with a weirdly ambiguous statement:

"The independent investigator could not find any evidence to corroborate the allegations made by XX and it was not possible to conclude that the alleged incidents took place. There was also no evidence to contradict the allegations and therefore the investigation team could not conclude that the alleged incidents did not take place either."

The most sensible view to take would be that XX's story is a fabrication. The motivations for this are, of course, unknown. It may be that XX is simply psychologically damaged and has misremembered some other traumatic event. Alternatively he could have been motivated by the prospect of financial recompense from the Savile estate. 

Regardless, in this climate of sensation, the authors cannot stop themselves prevaricating. Just because no evidence exists that Savile did visit the home doesn't mean he didn't! In the normal case of legal proceedings, this would be enough to exonerate Savile, but in this odd, quasi-legal process the allegation is essentially accepted on the basis of one man's uncorroborated memories from a  time thirty years ago when he was four years old.

This is, of course, just one story - and there are many more. Defenders of Savile point to an impressive array of similar cases where the headlines "Savile Did XXX" are not backed up by the evidence assembled.

As with many battles over perception of what constitutes "truth", there is little room for middle ground. Whatever a small subset of people believe will probably never overturn the wider public perception of Savile as monster.

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Author: Ian Freud   |  Last updated: 7th April 2015 | © Weird Island 2010-2020
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