Police investigating allegations that the TV presenter Jimmy Savile sexually abused young girls have begun inquiries into two hospitals following claims he molested a brain-damaged patient.
Nurses at Stoke Mandeville hospital, in Buckinghamshire, where he worked as a volunteer fundraiser, have alleged that Savile was so feared that they would tell children to stay in bed and pretend to be asleep when he came round.
At Leeds General Hospital, a woman claimed she saw him molest a brain-damaged hospital patient.
Both hospitals have confirmed that they will assist with any police investigations, and have urged anyone making any such allegations to contact police.
A spokesman for Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust, which runs Stoke Mandeville, said: “We are shocked to hear of the serious allegations about Jimmy Savile.
“At this stage in the proceedings it would not be appropriate for us to conduct our own internal investigation, however we have been contacted by the police this week and are supporting them fully with their inquiries. If their findings suggest that we do need to take further action then we will do so.”
A spokesman for Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust said: “We are shocked at the nature and extent of the very serious allegations made against Jimmy Savile which were revealed by the Metropolitan Police on Wednesday.
“We have made contact with the police and they will be meeting with us to discuss their investigation.
“The Trust does not have any record of complaints about Jimmy Savile’s behaviour made during the time he was a volunteer and charity supporter at Leeds General Infirmary or at any of our other hospitals.
“As a result of the TV documentary and subsequent media publicity we have, however, been contacted by two individuals, one of whom wishes to remain anonymous, about incidents said to have occurred in the 1970s.”
Police believe he could have abused up to 25 victims on a national scale over a period of 40 years, and at least 11 forces have so far formally recorded a number of criminal allegations including rape and indecent assault.
North Yorkshire Police said today it has received an historic allegation of sexual abuse against Savile.
The alleged victim, who was a young girl at the time, claimed she was targeted in Scarborough in the late 1980s, with the complaint now referred to Scotland Yard.
The BBC director general George Entwistle told ITV news on Thursday that he was satisfied that the corporation’s response to the scandal had been correct: “we went straight to the police with this as soon as we had a sense of the scale of what had been going on.”
However, in response to questions as to why a BBC Newsnight investigation into the former Top of the Pops presenter was dropped while tribute programmes following Jimmy Saville’s death were aired, Mr Entwistle said that he had only known that there was a Newsnight investigation, but “I had no idea what the nature of the investigation was.” At the time Mr Entwistle was BBC director of vision, meaning he was in charge of all BBC tv output but not the content of news programmes, which have their own BBC director.
The raft of allegations against Savile have been branded a “cesspit” by BBC Trust chairman Lord Patten, who said he wants to ensure the corporation’s policies are “fit for purpose”. He pledged its own independent inquiry will be launched as swiftly as possible after the police investigation.
Lord Patten has also suggested Mr Entwistle could make a prominent apology – possibly on prime-time TV – on behalf of the BBC once the claims have been investigated.
“The BBC has in place child protection policies, processes, guidance for us by all staff on and off the premises and independents making programmes for the BBC,” he said.
“We’ve asked the director-general to assure us that those policies are up to date and fit for purpose, that they’re effective in protecting minors and under-age children.
“We’ve also said that we want to be satisfied on the arrangements in place for dealing with sexual harassment, bullying and whistleblowing, and we want to be sure that those guidelines that do exist are gold standard and up to date and comply with current best practice.”
It has also been announced that a conference venue in Leeds currently known as the Savile Hall will be renamed. The venue’s owners, Royal Armouries International, said they were acting “out of respect for public opinion.”