UK

Savile estate cash 'to go to lawyers, not victims'

Jimmy Savile
Image caption The late BBC DJ Savile is said to have sexually abused more than 200 people over a 60-year period

A charity set up by Jimmy Savile has warned a compensation scheme for the sex abuser's victims could result in millions being paid in lawyers' fees.

The Jimmy Savile Charitable Trust said the settlement scheme, approved by a court earlier this year, was not fair.

Trustees, who have won the right to challenge it, said victims claiming against the Savile estate - a separate entity - could end up with just a fraction of the cash paid to lawyers.

But a lawyer called that "rubbish".

Liz Dux, who is representing victims, said she and other lawyers had agreed to work for a "fraction" of their normal fees.

She accused the charity of "mischief making", and said it had never raised this concern before.

The charity said it wanted "proper claims" to be paid but had an "obligation" to protect other funds that could go to itself.

'Angry and disappointed'

The challenge to the compensation scheme will be heard after September.

The charity was granted leave by the Court of Appeal in mid-July to challenge the High Court ruling which approved the scheme earlier this year.

On Wednesday Ms Dux said her clients would be "angry and disappointed" by the charity's attempt to overturn the compensation scheme.

But in a statement, the charity trust said it was unfair because it gave the claimants' lawyers an automatic right to claim fees of potentially £14,000 per claimant - irrespective of the amount the claimant ended up receiving.

"This could mean a claimant receives only a fraction of the amount paid to the lawyers," the charity said.

"It also means that a very substantive amount of the estate - perhaps over £2m - could be paid out in legal fees.

"We feel strongly that the estate funds should either go to the claimants or to beneficiaries of the estate, including the charity."

The charity said a set amount of £4,000 for legal fees would be incurred upon entering the scheme and £10,000 per claim settled.

That would amount to £14,000 per claim in legal fees - so with 176 claimants this could lead to a total of £2.46m.

The trust said: "It is our hope that we can protect the value of the estate by our application, so that more money is available to pay to those who have proper claims against the estate.

"As charity trustees, we also have an obligation to protect the funds that will go to charity, if there is anything left in the estate after paying the claims."

'Fraction' of cost

Ms Dux, of Slater and Gordon, said the charity's warning about money going to lawyers was "absolute rubbish".

She said she did not know what legal fees the Savile estate's lawyers would charge, but teams of lawyers had been working for victims for almost two years for a maximum of £14,000 per claimant.

She said this included the cost of medical reports, and lawyers would get nothing for rejected compensation claims.

"The victims' lawyers have agreed to our costs being fixed at a fraction of what we would normally get in terms of time," she said.

"I totally agree that the Savile estate money should go to victims which is why we agreed to fixed costs.

"This is mischief making on behalf of the trust, who have never put this argument before."

Ms Dux added that the costs paid to victims' lawyers had been agreed by all parties, including the victims.

Late BBC DJ Savile is said to have abused more than 200 people over a 60-year period.

Last month, investigators found the ex-BBC DJ sexually assaulted victims aged five to 75 in NHS hospitals over decades of unrestricted access.

Under the compensation scheme, the BBC, the NHS and the Savile estate agreed they would be liable for compensating victims.

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