JIMMY Savile was able to abuse hospital patients for 24 years even as staff were told of his crimes.
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A new report into the former DJ’s prolific abuse at Stoke Mandeville hospital today reveals how Savile targeted patients even staff regarded him as a threat.
Kate Lampard, the independent report author, said: “The story of Jimmy Savile’s offending in NHS hospitals is unusual to the point of being scarcely credible.
“Savile, a flamboyantly eccentric, narcissistic and manipulative television personality, used his celebrity, his volunteering and fundraising roles to gain unprecedented access to NHS hospitals. Savile’s status and influence in Leeds General Infirmary, Stoke Mandeville and Broadmoor hospitals was enhanced by endorsement and encouragement he received from politicians, senior civil servants and NHS managers..
“His access to NHS hospitals gave Savile the opportunity to commit sexual abuses on a grand scale for nearly 50 years.”
Some people knew and decided to ignore it. Frankly, it beggars beliefLiz Dux, lawyer
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt is expected to apologise today for care failings that let Savile abuse children and adults while at the same time being appointed to lead a Government-backed hospital fundraiser.
A separate report produced for Mr Hunt on the lessons learnt from the investigation say that at both Stoke and Leeds General Infirmary complaints both formal and informal made against Savile were simply brushed aside.
At least 60 victims were abused by Savile as a result of the freedom his celebrity status gave him at the Stoke Mandeville hospital. Among the most recent was an 18-year-old patient who came to Savile’s attention in 1990, the same year he received his Knighthood. The youngest victim is an eight-year-old boy, abused the same year Savile was showing plans for a hospital appeal to the then prime minister Margaret Thatcher.
The 55 victims cases covered in the report include cases of teenage nurses, young patients and visiting relatives all targeted by the abuser, as well as an 11-year-old girl thought to be raped by Savile while her teacher was present, and who is now the subject of a police investigation.
Just “a handful” of nursing staff ever received reports of his abuse, though these claims were never acted on despite evidence that “Savile was known as a sex pest in the 1970s and 1980s.”
A formal complaint regarding Savile was made in 1977. A young girl had told a nurse of Savile’s abuse but was not believed. She then told her father, who made a verbal complaint demanding that Savile was kept away from her daughter, but no record of the complaint could be found.
Nine other informal complaints were made by his victims, but none of these were taken seriously.
From 1980 onwards, Savile’s approach changed from being an eccentric celebrity to a figure of authority when the Government appointed him a lead fundraiser for the National Spinal Injuries Centre at the hospital. From then on, the report says, he became “an increasingly difficult and trouble-making influence at the hospital”.
The Stoke Mandeville report says that while Savile was linked to the hospital from as early as 1979, giving him permission was never based on “a single decision by a single person at a single point in time.”
Over time, the report says, the rationale relating to Savile’s presence “developed a folklore” which no one could explain.
Savile was never subject to any management, monitoring or supervision, and even now there is no evidence for who should be held to account for his abuse, the report says.
A report into Johnny Savile, the paedophile’s brother, is also produced relating to claims he abused patients at London’s Springfield Hospital between 1978 and 1980. he was dismissed for gross misconduct of a sexual nature in 1980 and died in 1998.
Savile, who died in 2011 aged 84, is believed to have abused hundreds of children.
As well as a bedroom at Stoke Mandeville he had an office and living quarters at high-security Broadmoor - where he sexually abused at least five individuals - and widespread access to LGI, where he was known to frequent the mortuary.
He died a year before allegations that he had sexually abused children were broadcast in ITV documentary Exposure: The Other Side Of Jimmy Savile. The documentary ultimately led to a joint review by the Metropolitan Police and NSPCC, which in turn triggered separate NHS investigations.
It also sparked Operation Yewtree, which has seen a string of celebrities including disgraced glam rocker Gary Glitter and former Radio One DJ Dave Lee Travis convicted of sex offences.
Hattie Llewelyn-Davies, chair of the Buckingham Healthcare NHS Trust, which covers the hospital, said she was sorry for the victims on behalf of the NHS.
She said the report contained “horrific and deeply distressing accounts” of some 60 people, whose “pain and anguish flood across every page”.
Ms Llewelyn-Davies added: “These accounts paint a bleak story of a deeply flawed and repellent individual who used his role as a fundraiser, his celebrity status and his national contact, to conceal his wicked activities.”
During the course of the Stoke Mandeville investigation the team located 250,000 pages of documentation and identified 355 witnesses.
Almost half the victims were under 16, with ten being around 12-years-old.
Around a third of the attacks were on patients, the others on staff, visitors and fundraisers. Around 90% were female.
The report found the sexual abuse ranged from inappropriate touching to rape.
It concludes that “Savile was an opportunistic predator who could also on occasions show a high degree of premeditation when planning attacks”.
Dr Androulla Johnstone, lead investigator, told a London press conference: “The then prime minister Margaret Thatcher sponsored Savile in his fundraising role for the hospital in 1980.
From the outset the new spinal injury centre was dependent upon Savile’s fundraising for two decades.
“Savile treated the money raised as his own personal largess. In 1990s this was challenged in a bitter legal dispute. Relationships underwent a total breakdown during this period. It is no co-incidence that Savile’s offending behaviour at the hospital appears to stop at this time.”