Learning the lessons of Savile


Never was there clearer evidence of the difference the Savile scandal has made to attitudes to allegations of child abuse.

The prime minister has broken into a trip to the Gulf to announce an investigation into allegations that abuse at a North Wales children's home went much further than an official inquiry revealed and may have involved a senior Conservative from the Thatcher era.

One source close to the prime minister told me "it reeks".

He was referring to allegations, first aired last Friday on the BBC's Newsnight, which suggested that victims of abuse at the Bryn Estyn children's home in the 1970s and 1980s were told by the police and the Waterhouse Inquiry that there was no evidence to back their recollection of who had abused them and, therefore, no reason to pursue their allegations further.

That is why Downing Street is aiming to appoint a judge to examine both "the scope and conduct of the original inquiry" into child abuse - to ask, in other words, whether the inquiry's terms of reference were set too narrowly to allow consideration of child abuse beyond one children's home in North Wales and whether allegations made by victims against public figures were wrongly excluded from the final report.

Number 10 is trying to learn from the BBC's handling of allegations about Jimmy Savile and, in particular, what is now widely seen to have been the mistake of insisting that the serious allegations were best dealt with by the police alone.

It is aware of the potential political damage of any perceived cover-up given that the allegations centre on a one-time senior Conservative - albeit someone who no longer has any involvement in frontline politics - and given that the Waterhouse Inquiry was set up by William Hague in 1996 when he was Secretary of State for Wales in John Major's government.

I am told that Number 10 have seen no evidence that is not already in the public domain. However, the fear amongst the prime minister's advisers is that children's homes may have been used by paedophiles who were prominent public figures and the authorities may have failed to investigate this properly.

PS: The BBC, in line with many other news organisations, has chosen not to name the politician at the centre of these very serious allegations as we have no evidence beyond the interviews aired on Newsnight on Friday.

Correction 10 November 2012: The BBC has apologised unreservedly for broadcasting a report on Newsnight on 2 November over allegations of child abuse which transpired to have involved a case of mistaken identity. As a result the video of the original report has been removed from the website. More details can be found here.

Nick Robinson, Political editor Article written by Nick Robinson Nick Robinson Political editor

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  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    The degeneracy of the ruling class from one-speech wonders like Clegg & Cameron to the perversions of Thatchersim & her obscene political rhetorics of 'all men are children' and fellow politicians are 'wet or dry', is proved in everything they say, think & do.

    They and their elitist institutions should be consigned to the dustbin of history

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    When will the families of the ship load of children sent out to Australia to religous abusers in the 50's get equal satisfaction.

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    It was a long time ago I believe I remember hearing allegations about abuse in the Welsh Children's homes and a Tory Minister.

    Do I not recall that it was passed off at the time as someone calling themselves by the name of the Tory Minister, but not in fact the Minister - was this a deliberate media deception of the public at the time?

    Anyone else remember these events?

    What did the media do?

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    Apparently someone thinks it IS appropriate to aggressively use a position of power to bully and and be sexually aggressive towards others. The person who gave #13 a negative score person is disgusting and should look towards their own behaviour.

    It is completely unacceptable for ANYONE to act towards others in the way that it is alleged Savile (or the Tory Minister) did.

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.


    Do not invade anyone's personal space verbally of physically. (unless invited by someone of = / > power - i.e. never take advantage of personal position.)

    Anyone who breaks or condones the breaking of this rule needs to at least stop and think.

    Also restrain yourself from making gender aggressive personal remarks they are never funny or appropriate. (E.g Last Autumn Watch use of buxom.)

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    Laughingdevil are you saying its ok for the press/ media to camp outside accused peoples door? You seem to suggest if its ok for the accused teacher it should be ok for the rich. It seems to me it is wrong for the press/media to be outside anybodies door with no evidence.

  • Comment number 11.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    The BBC were not that bothered about these victims 6 months ago .

    in fact they only developed a conscience when they needed I some way of diverting attention away from Saville .

    As with phone hacking , its not the victims , but the political opertunism that drives the frenzy .

    The bbc 's message is clear . You investigate us , we will dig up dirt on you .

  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    A schoolteacher accused with no evidence of the same thing would have been named with the media camped on their door and a vigilante mob not far behind.
    Accuse someone with a good laywer though.....
    Gotta love justice and freedom for the rich!

  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    when dave spouts lots of diverts you know there,s some in the wind.

  • rate this

    Comment number 7.

    The allegations of involvement of the judiciary, senior police and politicians in this abuse, as reported on "PM" are horrifying.

    They make one wonder if paedophilia is as rife amongst our ruling elite as apparently in the Catholic Church, and therefore subject to the same conspiracy of concealment.

    The implications are terrifying.

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    inquirys are camerons defence against talking about his own short comings,he loves them lol.

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    Cameron just wants to find a labour MP involved to blow the tory involved away.
    Well that and a divert away from brooks love in texts.

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    what we do not need more laws but to have people with backbone and whom are concerned with other aove themselfs and also to put their careers on the line if they see wrong doing in action

    JS(F4J) got 10 weeks at HMG pleasure for sitting on Harriet Harmans roof , was not a burgalar or peodo just a good man

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    When good men do nothing evil prevails.
    Saville had money and position and a group of like minded people and that protected him.
    In the Paul Gambaccini interview he stated that he saw Savile in "action" but did not do anthing because of fear 4 his job, he put himslef first QED

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    How many more bloody times do we have to hear a Politician crowing from the roof-top's that we will have another Inquiry to make sure this never happens again? And every time it does happen again ..... and again .... and again

  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    Well fancy that - an inquiry with such limited scope it failed to get to the truth.......Meanwhile, any political bods going to analyse the living wage speech? Too busy I expect.


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