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
    0

    Comment number 97.

    How come its ok for Freddie Starr and Gary Gliter to be named by the press but not the MP/'s?

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 96.

    The report by John Jillings was suppressed, the subsequent Waterhouse report was circumscribed with little subsequent police follow up, arguably cover up. Edinburgh/ Dunblane, Rotherham/Rochdale/Yorkshire and Jersey and Operation Ore were all suppressed in unsatisfactory circumstances. This latest enquiry appears predominantly procedural and limited to Wales - hard to disagree with Tom Watson

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 95.

    Saga#77/87

    Missed 77 I'm afraid.

    It's concerning that the hyperbole about the genuine concerns raised will result in people holding back. A mate helped out an old dear in distress & felt obliged to protest that his well intentioned actions had involved nothing inappropriate.- how sad is that?

    We need to keep enough perspective to distinguish between a helping hand and institutionalised abuse.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 94.

    You are laying a bit of a false trail there Nick- why? Not only one person has laid these claims against the 'one time' senior conservative- and this person, unlike Saville, is able to speak for themselves- in fact has said that he will sue one of the people claiming to be a victim. Is it that you just can't believe it yourself having spent professional time interviewing this individual?

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 93.

    89.kcband8
    Re:'Thatcher era'

    No doubt this description will be used for all dubious activities during that period.
    Can we expect a similar term to portray irresponsible borrowing, report sexing up, warmongering, or racial abuse, during the Blair/Brown ERA?

    +
    Good point
    I've got a term under the acronym B.E.L.F.(era)

    Biggoted Europhile Labour/Liberal Fascist (era)

    It's 'a belf-er'

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 92.

    Shocking that so many of the alleged perpetrators have been paid or are still being paid by the taxpayer - some are now retired & will never receive a custodial sentence. But as one victim was heard saying - she was not looking for compensation as much as wanting the 'enablers' dealing with. Those found guilty of offences should pay compensation by giving up some of their public sector pensions?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 91.

    'Learning the lessons of Savile'.
    Is that enough? Yet more 'lessons learned'?
    The evil that came from the 'permissive society' is the 'lesson learned'.
    So far the main arrest is 'Gary Glitter'.
    Lessons learned?
    Is that all from a BBC that brought blasphemy on our TV sets into nearly every household in the land?
    Politicians who campaigned for lowering the age of consent?
    No Justice there?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 90.

    86 You refer to the Kiszko case which a clear miscarriage of justice - but I am unclear why you reference it.. Are you suggesting that to preserve justice we have to accept that unless victims can prove abuse each time to a criminal burden then defacto nothing happens? That is part of the why these cases compound, is yours really a council of despair? That we can't and should not try to do better?

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 89.

    So the BBC news section have created a new "Thatcher ERA"

    No doubt this description will be used for all dubious activities during that period.

    Can we expect a similar term to portray irresponsible borrowing, report sexing up, warmongering, or racial abuse, during the Blair/Brown ERA?

    Not a chance.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 88.

    Here's another side to this ...

    Telegraph etc spend weeks banging on about about the evil BBC not outing Saville.

    Now the same papers obviously know the name of the senior tory facing similar ALLEGATIONS - I know his name, so they surely do.

    Yet those papers will not publish that name.

    Legally correct - but surely the height of hypocrisy in the light of their comments about the BBC.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 87.

    BG 84

    I suppose we can't have a free-for-all. Where would it end? Bit harsh though, getting the snip. All I was saying was that US presidential elections are too important to be decided by Americans.

    Re the blog topic, a key question is do we hold to our beyond reasonable doubt test - 'it's better for x guilty men to go free than to convict one who's innocent' - when it comes to child abuse?

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 86.

    #83 do you remember the polish guy whom was sterile i believe whom did 15 years for a crime he did not commit, mother died whilst he was he jail and he died 18 months after release.

    sometimes there is a price you have to pay NOT to live in a STAZZI type environment.
    As has been shown that they cannt act responsibly in the family courts a scatter gun is used to justify the unjustifyable

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 85.

    73.Whistling Neil

    "...That was not the point he made..."

    ===

    Not expressly, but it's implicit, in his reference to Magna Carta, I think.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 84.

    #77.sagamix

    Do not stray from the path that They would have you follow, young sagamix, or walk the way of evil men. For that is the road to Perdition.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 83.

    82 I agree - but the answers are diffcult and achieving balance extremely unlikely. A criminal system fundamentally set up on the basis of better 100 guilty go free rather than 1 innocent be convicted cannot be reconcilled with a problem where 1 innocent harmed is unacceptable as a result. Reconcilling that balance is extremely hard

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 82.

    #61 ok accept that then.

    Vaste mount of taxpayer monies are wated in the family courts of MALICIOUS, EVILS allegations this money would be better spent on other services that actually reduce the chance of the SAVILLE's of this world and make the UK safer for children.

    but the bady MUST not be thrown out with the bath water or u end up with STAZZI type systems

    This is the political issue.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 81.

    @ 77

    Ok, I guess it was off piste, sorry.

    It is US election day, however, and I was only replying to Coats @ 67

    Never mind, on this blog topic (and ref post 74) I think to say that Jimmy Savile's guilt (of sexual abuse) is a matter only of 'rumour and innuendo' is being extremely lenient!

    That said, no doubt there is a degree of untruth and exaggeration and hyperbole swirling around.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 80.

    People think the police spend most their time catching/getting evidence against the bad guys, actually they spend most their time pursuading victims not to pursue or that they can't pursue cases. In the past they had a particular dislike of sex cases presumably they saw them as difficult & time consuming, these cases are taken more seriously now but I guess a lot of "not pursuing" still goes on

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 79.

    The bottom line is sexual assualt/rape cases were rarely pursued until quite recently. the police almost always found some excuse or talked the victims out of pursuing it, even more so if the accused was rich. others who suspected things didn't push it because they were aware nothing would be done unless there was a lot of corroborated evidence.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 78.

    61 etc. I specifically did not accuse you of that , however I will tell you from personal experience that this is precisely how abusers do respond when complaints are made. The imbalance in the family courts is the flip side of what happens when you seek to address situations where criminal burden of proof is changed - but that too has severe negatives sides for such as you obviously.

 

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