BBC News

Jimmy Savile victims call for single inquiry

By David Sillito
Media Correspondent

media captionMan says he was abused by Jimmy Savile at a recording of Top Of The Pops in 1964

Victims of Jimmy Savile are calling for a single inquiry into how the ex-BBC DJ and presenter managed to evade justice.

There are more than 30 individual investigations being carried out by organisations linked to Savile.

About 50 of the people who have reported being abused say they fear key questions will not be answered about how Savile, who died in 2011, operated.

But the NSPCC charity says creating one overarching inquiry could mean lessons are not learnt as quickly.

Television expose

Solicitor Alan Collins, who is representing 60 of Savile's victims in compensation claims, said the majority of his clients fear an unsatisfactory resolution from the separate investigations.

He told the BBC: "It should be one inquiry, chaired by a high court judge. I fear if this does not happen, an opportunity will have been lost, not only for the victims but for the country as a whole.

"The risk (of not having one inquiry) is justice may be incomplete."

image captionThe extent of Jimmy Savile's predatory behaviour came to light in October 2012

He added that victims want an investigation with the power to summon witnesses and compel documents to be released. The current inquiries are accused of lacking sufficient scope, independence and powers to address the key questions.

One victim, who was abused by Savile when he was 15, told the BBC: "There are too many individual inquiries, far too many."

The 64-year-old added: "Surely it would be best... if there was just one inquiry led by someone competent and, when all the evidence was gathered from up and down the country, they collated it and then we might know exactly why Jimmy Savile got away with serious sexual abuse for nearly 50 years."

Conservative MP and former children's minister, Tim Loughton, agreed there should be a single inquiry.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's The World At One, Mr Loughton said: "We need to make sure most crucially that all the major institutions in this country… have child protection policies that are fit for purpose in 2014.

"We are at risk of undermining people's confidence... with this plethora of inquiries, we need something that joins everything up."

Allegations about Savile began to emerge following an ITV expose in October 2012 in which several women said they were abused by the presenter when they were teenagers.

Following the revelations, hundreds of calls were made to the police and charity helplines alleging abuse by Savile on both BBC premises and at various hospitals around the country he visited as part of his charity work.

The BBC's independent inquiry, led by Dame Janet Smith, into what the corporation knew about Jimmy Savile is due to publish its findings during January.

It has been in contact with 720 people and interviewed 140 witnesses.

The NHS is also holding multiple investigations. Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt announced in November that a further 19 hospitals were now carrying out inquiries into links with Savile.

media captionSolicitor Alan Collins says Savile's victims fear "an opportunity may be lost"

Health select committee chairman Stephen Dorrell said the process in the NHS needed to be quicker.

West Yorkshire Police, Surrey Police, Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary, the Crown Prosecution Service and the Independent Police Complaints Commission have all been involved in looking at issues raised by the scandal.

Meanwhile, the NSPCC says more victims have been coming forward in recent weeks. The most recent was just before Christmas. It says it has now been contacted by 326 people in connection with Jimmy Savile.

It adds that the effect of the Savile scandal has led to an 81% increase in overall reports of sexual abuse to the NSPCC.

image captionDame Janet Smith's inquiry is looking at what the BBC knew about Savile's behaviour while working for the corporation

However, Peter Watt, from the charity, who supports a "lessons learned" document, said a single inquiry would not help victims but would merely delay answers, possibly for years.

Mr Watt said: "Imagine if there was a key lesson learnt right now in one of those inquiries but suddenly it got subsumed into an overarching inquiry that took years to report. There are children today who could benefit from that but wouldn't."

But he agreed the government needed to draw together all the information gathered by the many inquiries and act on the conclusions.

The government's position is that it is waiting for all Savile-related police inquiries to come to an end before it makes a decision.

More on this story

  • Jimmy Savile: 19 more hospitals to investigate links