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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
His autobiography, the ludicrously titled Love Is An Uphill Thing, relates a series of unsavoury events with a sense of entitlement that is staggering in its arrogance. In particular he recalls an incident from his days as a nightclub manager in Leeds. A high ranking ‘lady officer’ arrived at the club one night. She showed him a picture of an ‘attractive’ girl, who had run away from a remand home, and asked his assistance in finding her. “If she comes in,” he recalls telling the policewoman, “I’ll bring her back tomorrow, but I’ll keep her all night first as my reward.”
You might imagine that he is merely congratulating himself on his wit – but no. Savile boasts that it is “God’s truth” that the girl arrived in due course at the club and that he convinced her to allow him to hand her in the following day, if he let her stay at the dance and go back to his place afterwards – which he was only too willing to do.
The incident is summed up in what is one of the most astonishingly shameless statements you will ever see in print. “At 11.30 the next morning,” Savile recounts, “she was willingly presented to an astounded lady of the law. The officeress was dissuaded from bringing charges against me by her colleagues, for it was well known that were I to go, I would probably take half the station with me.”
Savile was not alone among DJs and broadcasters in behaving as a predator. As the allegations against him mount – there have been over 300 at the time of writing – the police have launched an investigation, and almost as surely as day follows night, other well-known names will be dragged into the morass. The rumour-mill has gone into overdrive, with a number of other DJs and ‘personalities’ being fingered by the tabloids.
It is important, in a situation like this, not to metaphorically tar and feather people unless they are genuinely guilty of abuse. The publicist Max Clifford has revealed that over a dozen celebrities have been in touch with him, scared that their reputations may be ruined when they did nothing worse, in their minds, than take advantage of whatever sexual offers were going, at a time when that was regarded as the done thing.