Up Close And Personal with the British Establishment: Jimmy Savile
A while ago I became engaged in conversation with a former high court judge; the topic - Jimmy Savile (Don’t ask). I had suggested that the serial paedophile had been enabled by individuals who held senior positions in the constabulary, medical and broadcasting professions to which he vehemently disagreed. In fact, he got angry: how dare I hint at collusion and cover-up!
In the case of the BBC, I knew for a fact that senior (and junior) staff had allowed the DJ and TV star to sexually abuse under age children on BBC premises. Apparently, the BBC had allowed “uncle Jimmy” to do what he liked to whom he liked, when and where he felt the urge. Hey, it was the 1970s, right? Yes, but rape of 8-year-olds is wrong irrespective of the decade in which it occurs. Well, that’s my view.
I can’t speak for everyone, but I for one would not have turned a blind eye to “uncle Jim’s” shenanigans. Either you have a moral centre or you don’t. There’s no grey area. Even as a 7-year-old he creeped me out. Our primary school once wrote letters to Jim’ll Fix It for a class project. It was one competition I didn’t want to win.
Those high cut running shorts . . . yuk! As a teenager I sensed the persona was fake, cover for something else – what I couldn’t have said. But I knew, I just knew he was a bad ‘un. Like most people who feel the need to broadcast their sanctity, Savile was obviously deflecting from his true nature. Psychology (and common sense) teaches the greater the effort to persuade of one’s saintliness, the less likely to be the purity of the self-promoter. Beware the virtue signaller. Genuine saints don’t do self-promotion, nor require Twitter likes for validation.
But this judge was having none of it. According to this member of the establishment BBC personnel had been cleared by the Dame Janet Smith Review. He was right: the report had indeed whitewashed BBC culpability, reimagining it as ‘systemic failures’ which occurred in a ‘culture of deference.’ No names. No charges. No justice.
BBC staff had of course denied all knowledge of Savile’s crimes. It was more than good enough for my learned friend, but not for me. I quizzed him about the nuts and bolts of Smith’s establishment cover-up: Had he really expected BBC staff when questioned to hold their hands up and say: “Yes, I knew he was raping children, but I didn’t say anything because it was, after all, uncle Jimmy.” The judge started to hedge: “There was no evidence” etc.
I’m not a violent man but listening to this scion of the British establishment playing dumb in order to protect his fellow club members was almost too much to bear. There I was listening to someone defend the indefensible. But the really chilling thing was how adamant he was that the BBC had been entirely faultless because Smith’s whitewash said so. He clung to that report with the tenacity of a mountaineer on the cliff face of K2. To him it validated his class – its superiority, its God given right to rule. He saw only that which he was programmed to see.
The temptation to knock him into next week was, I have to confess, overwhelming for it was precisely this see-no-evil attitude that enabled Savile to commit at least 400 sex crimes against children. He was more than happy for the whole sordid business to be swept under the carpet, old Rumpole. The enablers had been his fellow Hampstead dinner party guests. The victims? Oh sure, what happened to them was ‘awful’ but there were much bigger considerations here, were there not?
I have no doubt had an abused young girl approached this chap and his ilk back in the day, she would have been ignored – perhaps smeared, maybe even threatened. What mattered to this former judge was the continuation of the system of which he was an ineffable part. He simply could not and would not even consider the possibility that the class to which he belonged is rancid, degenerate. Thus, he chose to grasp at the official story. This meant closing his mind, eschewing all logic, reason and evidence; easy when you know how.
There was a fly in Dame Janet Smith’s ointment though: while nobody at the BBC knew of the multiple rapes carried out on BBC premises, how could an 18-year-old punk rock singer have known? Unfortunately for the amnesiacs, Johnny Rotten had done that interview back in ’77. “We’re not allowed to speak about it” he said referring to Savile’s abuse. “Not allowed” – by whom? Terry Christian, the DJ and TV presenter also said he “knew all about Savile in ’81.” Savile’s crimes were indeed the best-kept secret in showbiz.
It seems he’d been quite active within the paedophile scene – supplying children for parties and, as rumour has it, for trips aboard Ted Heath’s Morning Cloud. The Netflix documentary has an interview with Savile’s nephew whom, along with some other boys, the DJ picked up from a London train station and thence delivered him to a paedophile party. I can’t help but wonder if Savile’s crimes extended beyond sexual abuse.
What is truly shocking about this whole sordid affair is the lengths the British establishment went to protect him; Jimmy Savile was, as they say, extremely well-connected. No doubt he had cultivated royal and political connections in order to make himself untouchable, which is what he had become. And what is also beyond doubt is that without his enablers he could never have continued to rape children with impunity.
As for the BBC, Savile led a charmed life as one of the corporation’s most high prolile figures. Looking back, it seems bizarre. Rumours flying around about Savile and his predilection for ‘little girls’ what kind of organisation provides the same individual with access to starstruck young fans via TV shows such as Clunk Clink and Jim’ll Fix It? I mean wouldn’t you err on the side of caution? Wouldn’t you engage a safe pair of (female) hands to present such shows? Gloria Hunniford? Claire Rayner? Angela Rippon?
When Savile died in 2009, his secrets died with him or so he thought. It didn’t take long for the truth to emerge; it took no time at all. Suddenly, newspaper editors were listening. The chattering classes were suddenly horrified and disgusted. They couldn’t wait to distance themselves from the disgraced DJ and charity runner. Dead men tell no tales; having covered for him for so many decades had the British establishment decided to finally throw Savile to the wolves?
Who knows? What we do know is that nobody from the BBC has ever been charged with complicity in Savile’s crimes. Those who knew are probably dead or living off gilt-edged BBC pensions. Likewise, senior staff from West Yorkshire Police, Broadmoor, Leeds Hospital and goodness knows how many institutions escaped punishment.
As for my judge, he’s managed to convince himself that nobody within his rarefied circles knew anything. Whatever gets you thru the night, m’lud.