Jimmy Savile charities have no future, say trustees

Jimmy Savile Savile's charity work was recognised with a knighthood in 1990

Jimmy Savile's charities are to close after their trustees decided that keeping them open could be "damaging" to the causes they support.

The trustees of the Jimmy Savile Charitable Trust and Jimmy Savile Stoke Mandeville Hospital Trust said they had considered a change of name in the wake of the sex abuse allegations against their late founder.

However, after meeting on Monday, it was decided that they "could not see a future for either charity" because the organisations would "always be linked in the public's mind with the late Jimmy Savile".

They spoke of their concern that adverse press coverage could be "damaging" for causes the two trusts support - and said protecting these causes was their primary concern.

'Consider public mood'

During a life in the public eye, Savile became almost as well known for raising an estimated £40m for charity as he was for being the face of Top of the Pops and Jim'll Fix It.

Before setting up the general charitable trust in 1984, Savile established the Jimmy Savile Stoke Mandeville Hospital Trust in 1981. This followed a request from the Buckinghamshire hospital, where he volunteered for many years, to help raise funds for rebuilding work.

Jo Summers, solicitor for the charity's trustees, had said before the trustees decided to close the charities that if they wished to continue they would have to consider the public mood.

How does a charity change its name or close?

  • Firstly, the trustees hold a meeting to discuss the reasons for the name change and possible alternatives
  • Once a decision is made, the charity contacts the Charity Commission for permission
  • The commission gives a "yes or no answer"
  • Its answer is based on the charity satisfying the commission that it fulfils the requirements of its new name - for example, a charity that wants to include the word "international" must work internationally
  • If a charity is wound up it must inform the commission. If there are outstanding funds in the charity's name, they must be donated to a charity that does similar work

Source: The Charity Commission

She said the general mood was that "the names are going to have to go". However, as it has transpired, even that course of action was not considered enough because the link with their late founder was simply too strong.

Meanwhile, at Stoke Mandeville, a name change is already planned for the hospital's popular "Jimmy's" cafe.

The Jimmy Savile Charitable Trust is primarily based in the Leeds area, although not all of its trustees - listed as Luke Lucas, Dr Roger Bodley and Lady Gabrielle Greenbury on the Charity Commission's website - still live there.

Its overview on the Charity Commission website states that the trust's objectives are to "provide funds for the relief of poverty and sickness and other charitable purposes beneficial to the community", as well as "provision of recreational and other facilities for disabled persons".

More than half the funds given out by the trust over the years had come from donors other than Savile, Ms Summers said.

"The trustees are eternally grateful to all those people for their support in the past, so we don't want it to be seen as just Jimmy's money," she said.

Following Savile's death last October aged 84, an auction of his collection of mementos and personal belongings - including his Rolls-Royce which went for £130,000 and the original red Jim'll Fix It chair for £8,500 - raised about £320,000 for his charities.

There will be further funds when the final part of Savile's estate "falls into" the trust, said Ms Summers, including some of his properties still to be sold. It is likely now that these funds will be distributed to other charities, along with the funds remaining in the two trusts.

However, the trustees have said they will not be publicly announcing which causes they money will go to.

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.

Stringent policies

Among the causes supported by the trust has been a scholarship scheme for Leeds University undergraduate medical students, funding - among other things - a bursary for the students to conduct research during the holidays.

After receiving support for the scholarships from Savile's charitable trust since 2006, totalling £225,000 to date, the university is now unlikely to accept any more money.

Start Quote

We have probably received more requests for funding in the last two weeks than we have in the previous two years”

End Quote Jo Summers Solicitor for Jimmy Savile Charitable Trust

Although a decision has not yet been taken, the university says it has stringent policies on donations and reconsiders such gifts when new facts emerge that were unknown at the time of the original donation.

Alec Shelbrooke, Conservative MP for the Leeds constituency of Elmet and Rothwell, had said before the trustees' decision that the general trust "should be moved into other trusts so that the money can go to good causes".

And Ralph Michell, director of policy at the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations, had said that the Savile scandal was an "extremely rare" situation, adding: "I would have thought it would be pretty difficult for a charity to carry on using Jimmy Savile's name - but it absolutely doesn't mean that its work needs to come to an end."

Ahead of the trustees' decision, Ms Summers said that the Jimmy Savile Charitable Trust may give some funds to organisations supporting victims of sex abuse.

"Since saying that's something we would consider, we have been inundated with requests from a wide variety of charities," said Ms Summers. "In fact, we have probably received more requests for funding in the last two weeks than we have in the previous two years."

She added that the charity's trustees had been left "personally shocked" by the sex abuse scandal, stressing they had absolutely no idea of the alleged crimes now coming to light.

"They knew Jimmy for many years, volunteered to be his charity trustees. They can't recognise the person they are reading about in the papers," she said.

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