For a different slant on the Jimmy Saville Affair see the article written by Charles More published in the Daily Telegraph which is reproduced in full below
The lead headline on the BBC website yesterday said: “Jimmy Savile scandal: Report reveals extent of abuse”. Well, I have read the whole of the report, and I can assure you that it does not.
Like most people, I believe the gist of the report – in the loose sense that I believe that Jimmy Savile did horrible, criminal things to young people, mainly to girls. But this is not exact knowledge: it is based on the stories which keep being repeated in the media and on the feeling, which one got from anecdotes, interviews and documentaries about Savile when he was alive, that he was sexually sinister. What would be valuable from an official report, surely, would be actual evidence. This report contains none, in a sense which a court would recognise.
The central problem crops up as early as the fourth paragraph. This states that the investigation – Operation Yewtree – has “collated all the allegations against Savile, irrespective of where the offences took place”. It jumps straight from “allegations” to “offences”. It assumes that because allegations were made, the offences were committed. It declares that 214 incidents have now been “formally recorded” as crimes. It treats allegations as facts. By doing so, it undermines justice.
Aware of a bit of a difficulty here, the report admits that “the information has not been corroborated”. Corroboration would be “considered disproportionate”, it goes on, given that criminal proceedings cannot now be brought because Savile is dead. So all we have are claims. The report seeks to justify itself by saying that “the patterns and similarities” of his “offences and behaviours” reported have “given police and NSPCC staff an informed view that most people have provided compelling accounts of what happened to them”. So, it suggests, the rest of us must believe them.
All we know that we did not know before is a series of statistics – the number of people who have come forward, the number and nature of offences alleged (126 indecent assaults, for example), their incidence over years, and their geographical spread. Where does this lead?