Savile abuse: Stoke Mandeville staff 'were told'

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Media captionOne of Jimmy Savile's victims said nurses told her to ignore him

A report into sexual abuse by Jimmy Savile at Stoke Mandeville Hospital is to say staff were told of 10 complaints at the time, the BBC understands.

The independent investigation into Savile's behaviour at the hospital is due to be published at 09:30 GMT.

Lawyer Liz Dux, representing 44 claimants of abuse at the hospital, said it would be a "disgrace" if senior management escaped blame.

Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust says it will respond later.

Savile, who died aged 84 in October 2011, was a major fund-raiser and regular visitor to Stoke Mandeville for more than 20 years. He had a flat and office on the hospital site.


The Stoke Mandeville inquiry was led by independent investigator Dr Androulla Johnstone and overseen by a local oversight panel led by the hospital trust's non-executive director, Keith Gilchrist.

The report was originally expected to have been completed by the end of 2013 but has been repeatedly delayed. Investigations into 28 other hospitals, including Leeds General Infirmary and Broadmoor psychiatric hospital, were published last June.

Image copyright INS News Agency
Image caption Jimmy Savile was given a bedroom in a building used to accommodate young medical students

One of the complaints of abuse is believed to have been made to a nurse, a ward sister and a hospital manager.

Nine reports were made to nurses alone, with one more also reaching a manager, the report is believed to say.

It will also highlight that more than 50 people were abused by Jimmy Savile at Stoke Mandeville Hospital. Victims included patients, staff and visitors. One victim is understood to have been as young as eight.

The BBC has spoken to one victim, who has not been named to protect her identity.

She was 18 and a patient at the time. She said Savile climbed through the window by her bed before sexually assaulting her.

She said: "It was absolutely disgusting, it's just the worst thing possible."

She said Savile seemed to know all about her reason for being at Stoke Mandeville: "I told the nurses what Savile had done, the fact that he came in and had spoken to me. How did he know these things about me? They just said they know he's like that and 'ignore him, ignore him'. They thought it was funny, really.

"I thought he'd just done that to me, I thought that was something I was just going to have to live with. I had no idea he was doing things to other people."

Lawyer Ms Dux of Slater & Gordon, who represents the majority of the victims, said: "As an institution, Stoke Mandeville, in my opinion, is actually the most blameworthy for Savile's crimes. We have very young vulnerable people there, who were there in a place to be looked after, some of whom couldn't move, some of them were in wheelchairs.

"We even have a clear example of someone reporting the abuse to a senior nursing sister and being told to be quiet because of what he did for the institution."

"It will be a disgrace if the report into Stoke Mandeville reaches the same findings as it did in Leeds - that there was no accountability or knowledge within the senior management of the hospital."

Investigators found that members of staff at Leeds General Hospital failed to pass on complaints of abuse to senior managers.

The BBC understands the report will also say Savile's reputation as a 'sex pest' was an open secret. Staff described him as 'creepy' and 'a lecher' who had access to the mortuary alone, out of hours.

Image copyright Mike Stephens
Image caption Jimmy Savile's fund-raising efforts were supported by the Department of Health

Stoke Mandeville's former director of nursing, Chris McFarlane, said reports of abuse by Savile "never reached senior management ears".

She said Savile was free to go anywhere in the hospital: "If 0% was no access and 100% was total access, Jimmy had 100% access to the hospital, to all parts.

"If he knocked on a closed door and somebody opened the door, Jimmy would be allowed in. I don't believe I ever knew anybody, even the ones who thought there was something funny about him, anybody who would have said 'you're not allowed in here.'

"How could we have allowed him to sit with our patients in the spinal unit, some of whom were tetraplegic, so paralysed from the neck down, others from the chest or waist down, sit with them, without anybody bothering to ask what he was doing?"

Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust said it would not provide any comment before the report was published.

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