A West Yorkshire Police report says DJ Jimmy Savile “was not protected from arrest” because of his relationship with the force – but a lawyer representing victims says this “doesn’t add up”.
The report examined the “predatory paedophile’s” relationship with the force, and with individual officers, who would sometimes attend his well-known Friday Morning Club at his flat in Leeds.
Assistant Chief Constable Ingrid Lee said in her introduction to the “Operation Newgreen” report that there was “no doubt” the force had made mistakes.
He was engrained with them, dovetailed with them. The report begs a lot more questions. Alan Collins
However, the report said: “There is no evidence that he was protected from arrest or prosecution for any offences as a result of his relationship with WYP, or individual friendships with officers.”
West Yorkshire Police also reported that 68 of Savile’s victims have now come forward in the force area, and that none came forward in his lifetime. The youngest of these was five years old at the time and eight others were aged nine or under.
However Alan Collins, who represents 40 victims of the former Jim’ll Fix It host, said the police report “doesn’t add up”.
Mr Collins told ITV’s Daybreak: “He was engrained with them, dovetailed with them. The report begs a lot more questions.
“It provides some answers but the report reveals memories that are not as sharp as perhaps they ought to be, ‘can’t remember’, documents that can’t seem to be located. It doesn’t add up.”
It raises the issues really well, then it fails to acknowledge or deal with any of those issues. Mark Williams-Thomas
Lawyer Liz Duck, who represents a number of Savile’s West Yorkshire victims, said her clients did not come forward before the broadcaster’s death because they feared not being believed.
Ms Duck told Radio 5Live: “One called me today quite upset. She said ‘It seems as if it’s our fault but who was going to believe us?'”
Asked if she thought the police were gullible, she said: “Clearly a lot of people were gullible and I’m sure the police were as well. What we have to learn from this is that we never, ever allow celebrity status to gain that kind of power again.”
The lawyer said her clients were now waiting for reports from hospitals where much of the abuse took place, including Leeds General Infirmary and Broadmoor.
Mark Williams-Thomas, the former police officer who led the investigation which uncovered Savile’s offending, said he was disappointed by the report.
He told BBC Radio 5Live: “It raises the issues really well, then it fails to acknowledge or deal with any of those issues, providing any evidence at all or any substance.”
The report said that 68 victims have come forward to West Yorkshire police since Savile’s death, alleging 76 crimes between them. 72 of the crimes were said to have taken place at Savile’s home.
The youngest victim was five and the eldest was 45. The report said nine victims were under 10; nine victims were 10 to 13 years old; 30 were aged 14 to 17; and 20 were adults. Of the 68 complainants, 49 were female and 19 were male.
Most of the offending took place in the 1960s and 70s but two claims related to the 1950s and three were made in the 2000s. Of these offences, eight were alleged rapes. Four of these complainants were women but four were men.
The report said the investigation “conducted extensive inquiries to establish if any allegation of sexual abuse by Savile had been reported to WYP during his lifetime”.
It said: “Although rumours did exist of previous investigations taking place into allegations made against Savile, when these were explored they were found to be without any foundation.”
It is clear that many people felt unable to report these dreadful crimes to West Yorkshire Police. Ingrid Lee
Despite numerous interviews, system searches and inquiries with other agencies, the review team found no evidence of any previous allegations being made to WYP against Savile, or of any investigations being conducted.
“The force does recognise that some people may have difficulty in reconciling this fact; indeed WYP has difficulty in reconciling this, as since October 2012, 68 victims have come forward to report Savile’s abuse in the West Yorkshire area.”
Ms Lee said: “When taken in context, Savile lived for over 80 years as an individual who has duped millions into believing that he was a genuine celebrity, a charity fundraiser and a harmless eccentric who did nothing but good in our communities.
“However, evidence now suggests that he was a predatory paedophile and manipulative liar who caused harm to so many.
“It is clear that many people felt unable to report these dreadful crimes to West Yorkshire Police or to one of the many agencies specially trained to independently receive such complaints.
“It is also clear that Savile’s celebrity status and victims’ fear of not being believed because of his standing within the community as a high profile and successful individual was a barrier to reporting.”