Jimmy Savile. Photo Getty
The late British TV presenter Jimmy Savile, honoured by
both the queen and the pope, sexually assaulted hundreds of
people, mainly children, at BBC premises and hospitals over six
decades of unparalleled abuse, a police-led report says.
Savile, one of Britain's biggest TV stars in the 1970s and
1980s, abused youngsters at 13 hospitals where he did
voluntary work as a porter and fundraiser, and even at a
hospice treating terminally ill patients.
The youngest victim was an 8-year-old boy, and the last of
the 214 offences of which he is suspected took place just two
years before his death in 2011 at the age of 84.
"He groomed a nation," said Commander Peter Spindler, who led
the police investigation and said the scale of his crimes
were without precedence.
A one-time professional wrestler, Savile became famous as a
pioneering DJ in the 1960s before becoming a regular fixture
on TV hosting prime-time pop and children's shows until the
He also ran about 200 marathons for charity, raising tens of
millions of pounds (dollars) for hospitals, leading some to
give him keys to rooms where victims now allege they were
While many colleagues and viewers thought the cigar-chomping
Savile was weird, with his long blonde hair, penchant for
garish outfits and flashy jewellery, he was considered a
"national treasure", honoured not just by the queen but also
by the late Pope John Paul II who made him a papal knight in
However, Friday's report said he took advantage of his fame
to commit predatory offences across Britain, including 34
rapes or serious sexual assaults. Of his alledged victims, 73
percent were under 18 and 82 percent were female. The oldest
In all, 450 people have given information about him and
detectives said more victims were likely to come forward.
However, the report, issued jointly by London police and the
NSPCC children's charity, said some would never feel able to
break their silence.
"He hid in plain sight, behind a veil of eccentricity
double-bluffing those who challenged him, from vulnerable
children right up to and including a prime minister of the
time," said Peter Watt from the NSPCC.
He said Savile had "cunningly" built his life's work around
getting access to children to abuse.
STARTED IN THE 1950S
His offending began in 1955 in the northern English city of
Manchester and the last attack was in 2009. He abused 33
people at the BBC from 1965, including a girl in 2006 at the
last recording of popular weekly show "Top of the Pops", one
of the programmes which had made him famous.
He targeted people at hospitals over 30 years from 1965,
including at the renowned Great Ormond Street children's
hospital in London. Other attacks took place at schools where
children had written to him as part of his "Jim'll Fix It"
Although a few allegations had been made when he was alive,
these were never pursued and both police and prosecutors said
lessons had to be learned to ensure there could be no repeat.
Despite rumours and suspicions, his alleged sex crimes only
came to light when broadcaster ITV aired allegations against
him in October.
That prompted allegations the BBC had covered up claims of
sex abuse after it was revealed it had dropped its own expose
shortly after Savile's death but had run tribute shows.
Those revelations plunged the BBC into weeks of turmoil,
rattling staff and audiences, and led to resignation of the
publicly funded broadcaster's director general just 54 days
into his job.
A lengthy report last month cleared of the BBC of any
cover-up but said it had missed numerous warnings.
While there was no evidence Savile was part of a paedophile
ring, detectives are looking at whether he was part of "an
informal network" of abusers.
They have questioned 10 men, including Jim Davidson, a
comedian who hosted prime-time shows on the BBC in the 1990s,
former BBC radio DJ Dave Lee Travis, and Max Clifford,
Britain's most high-profile celebrity publicist. They deny
A household name in Britain for much of his life, Savile's
crimes will now ensure notoriety in death.
"I want us to forget Jimmy Savile - he is not worthy of
memory," said Peter Saunders of the National Association of
People Abused in Childhood.