February 27: Betrayal on a shameful scale

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THE DEEPER investigators dig into the circumstances which enabled Jimmy Savile to carry out his vile catalogue of abuse, seemingly at will, the more horrifying the resulting picture. The most pressing question surrounding the predatory sex offender is no longer who knew of his sickening activities, but rather who didn’t.

The latest report into Savile reveals that he was allowed to continue targeting patients at the nation’s hospitals despite the fact that staff knew he posed a threat. Kate Lampard, the report’s author, speaks for many when she says that “the story of Jimmy Savile’s offending in NHS hospitals is unusual to the point of being scarcely credible”.

Savile raped and sexually assaulted victims aged five to 75 at no fewer than 41 NHS hospitals – and while it seems almost inconceivable that senior managers turned a blind eye, the investigation makes clear that is exactly what happened. Aware of patients’ concerns and in receipt of no fewer than 10 complaints about Savile’s behaviour at Stoke Mandeville Hospital alone, they simply allowed him to continue preying on those in their care.

It is clear that Savile’s fundraising exploits for the hospitals succeeded in making him untouchable. In such a scenario the targets of his attentions became little more than collateral damage in what amounts to a shameful dereliction of duty.

More shocking still is the fact that while Savile is no longer alive, the menace he embodied remains a clear and present danger within the health service. The report found that the NHS is still vulnerable to paedophiles like Savile because many hospitals still do not have sufficiently rigorous rules for managing their relationships with celebrities or in regard to volunteers.

We are tired of hearing the refrain that “lessons have been learnt” because it is clear they haven’t. It is too late to bring Savile to justice, but those who facilitated his offending must now be held accountable for this appalling betrayal of patients.

Cameron’s clanger

PM breaks immigration pledge

HAVING issued his infamous “no ifs, not buts” pledge to cut net immigration to below 100,000, figures which show it currently stands at three times that level are a cause of considerable embarrassment to the Prime Minister.

Not only has David Cameron failed to deliver on his much-publicised promise, but the total of 298,000 is actually higher than when he took office nearly five years ago and at its peak point for a decade.

Though many considered his target wildly optimistic given the mess inherited from Labour, it is still deeply disappointing that so little progress has been made on an issue that exercises the minds of so many voters.

A transparent attempt to mitigate the momentum built by Ukip, the gamble has backfired spectacularly. Having trusted David Cameron to provide the tough stance on immigration that is required, the concern for the Conservatives must now be that the electorate will be unwilling to place their faith in him on May 7.

However, the question must be asked as to whether Labour would have fared any better. Indeed, given the party’s lackadaisical attitude when it came to shoring up Britain’s borders it is quite conceivable that these figures would be even worse.

It is clear that the porous and inefficient system inherited by the coalition Government has proven more difficult to reform than even the Prime Minister had envisaged.

Mr Cameron has discovered, to his cost, that it is far easier to make promises than deliver them. It is to be hoped that he refrains from issuing further hollow pledges between now and the election. His credibility depends on it.

In search of a smile

Nurse’s remarkable kindness

EVEN if Joshua Burdall were old enough to appreciate the kindness shown to him by the nurse who has welcomed the three-year-old into her family, he would be unable to repay her remarkable generosity with a smile.

For Joshua was born with Congential Myotonic Dystrophy – a rare condition which weakens muscles and leaves sufferers unable to form simple facial expressions that the rest of us take for granted.

Yet there is hope. The toddler is the sole UK child to be selected for drug

trials in America, which Sarah Ruane, the nurse who first cared for Joshua and is now adopting him, believes could provide a breakthrough.

How wonderful it would be both for Joshua and for Sarah if one day he were able to show his gratitude without needing to say a word – but simply breaking into a broad smile.