Matthew Steeples shares his somewhat mixed thoughts on the allegations against Sir Jimmy Savile
When Sir Jimmy Savile’s 2002 Rolls-Royce Corniche went to auction in July with a guide price of £60,000 to £90,000, he seemed destined to be remembered as a man who would continue to do as much good in death as he appeared to have done in life. Savile (1926 – 2011) had arranged that all proceeds of the auction would go to charity and in the end the car fetched £130,000.
By September 2012, however, everything had changed. Savile, a man who had raised an estimated £40,000,000 for charity during his lifetime, now stands accused of allegations of sexual assault against numerous women and at least one male following an ITV1 documentary, Exposure: The Other Side of Jimmy Savile.
When I first heard these allegations, I was somewhat perturbed. My initial thought was: “Is it right that these allegations surface when the alleged perpetrator is not here to defend himself?” Yes, Savile and many other stars of his generation and ilk appeared eccentric and perhaps even a little sinister, but that does not mean that they were or are necessarily paedophiles and rapists. In the days that followed, I found myself questioning the motivations of those who had waited until this supposedly affable star was dead before they opted to blacken his name. The fact that many of these “victims” remain hidden behind masks of anonymity, equally, is somewhat questionable especially when their alleged abuser is not here to “threaten” them any longer either.
Having since watched the documentary, presented by former police detective Mark Williams-Thomas, and subsequently heard an incredibly creepy recording released by the BBC of Savile with a 14-year old girl, my mind changed somewhat and I now find myself appalled that this individual was allowed to get away with his perverted ways for so long.
Even in his lifetime, the bachelor Savile made some pretty sordid comments about his sex life and attitude towards women. A passage from his 1974 autobiography, As it Happens, gives an example:
“There have been trains and, with apologies to the hit parade, boats and planes (I am a member of the 40,000 foot club) and bushes and fields, corridors, doorways, floors, chairs, slag heaps, desks and probably everything except the celebrated chandelier and ironing board.”
It is also true that Savile was investigated and interviewed under caution over allegations of indecent assault in the 1970s by British police in 2007 and that the States of Jersey police had similarly looked into another assault in 2008. Neither resulted in any charges being brought but now that many of his former colleagues have come forward to state that knowledge of the Jim’ll Fix It star’s predatory ways were “well known,” one has to ask why no one shouted louder back then. After all, many of these people were in positions of power equal and in some cases senior to Savile.
Rather like with Leveson, though, the present calls for an investigation into the activities of Jimmy Savile come too late and are in my view pointless. Such an inquiry would certainly give the camera loving blabbermouths their day in court but it will not bring any closure for those who were allegedly abused. Their alleged abuser will never be punished for what he allegedly did and the only people to benefit will be the lawyers. Column inches will indeed also be filled but what else would be achieved?
Savile is buried in a coffin inclined at 45 degrees to fulfill his wish to “see the sea” at Woodlands Cemetery in Scarborough, Yorkshire. It has recently been encased in concrete “as a security measure” and given that a memorial plaque on his former home had to be removed after being defaced with graffiti, this is probably wise.
Whether Jimmy Savile is innocent or guilty of the abuses that he has been accused, his name now is forever tarnished. That now will be this strange man’s only legacy.
For more details on The Jimmy Savile Charitable Trust, go to: http://www.thejimmysavilecharitabletrust.com/