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The Sick Legacy of Jimmy Savile
Revelations that the BBC DJ was a serial sex abuser are consistent with the twisted egotism of his image. So how did he get away with it for so long?
Niall Stokes, 02 Nov 2012
Whatever about that – and we will wait and see what the individuals involved have to say when the time comes – there is certainly a distinction between the Brendan Smyth-like abuse of children in places like Haut de la Garenne industrial school, Stoke Mandeville Hospital and Duncroft Special Needs School, of which Saville was guilty, and the kind of groupie culture which was prevalent in rock ’n’ roll and among DJs in the 1970s.
Either way, the fact that Jimmy Savile could evade charges during his lifetime is reminiscent of what happened in Ireland with members of the Roman Catholic clergy. Savile was a member of a different kind of special caste. But it is not too far-fetched to suggest that he was like a secular Priest, who wrapped himself in a cloak of charitable piousness all the better to enable himself to get away with crimes of monstrous egotism, violence and cruelty against vulnerable children.
Of course, the decisions taken in the BBC to suppress a Newsnight investigation into accusations against Savile after his death were thoroughly despicable. It would seem impossible for anyone who encouraged or facilitated that cover-up to survive. But the issue runs far deeper than any show trial at the BBC might imply. The authorities, and in particular the police, have questions of their own to answer in relation to the long-term culture of silence which enabled Savile to die a free man.
“I am a very tricky fella,” the DJ told Alex Bedfield in an interview not long before his death. Savile was proud as punch about it too. “Tricky is much better than being clever,” he added. “If you’re clever you can slip up. But if you’re tricky you never slip up.”
If you’re sufficiently tricky you have positioned yourself that there are too many others you could drag with you, if you were to go down. That seems to have been Jimmy Savile’s sick genius. But it is no excuse for the failure on the part of the police and the authorities generally to protect his victims.