More questions than answers as Yorkshire police clear themselves of shielding Savile

Jimmy Savile
Jimmy Savile
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A LAWYER for victims of Jimmy Savile has said that a report which concluded there is no evidence he was protected by police officers “doesn’t add up”.

The West Yorkshire Police report, published this morning, examined the history of the DJ and TV presenter’s relationship with the force, including how officers attended his well-known Friday Morning Club at his Leeds flat.

The report concluded: “There is no evidence that he was protected from arrest or prosecution for any offences as a result of his relationship with WYP, or individual friendships with officers.”

But Alan Collins, who represents 40 victims of the disgraced broadcaster, said: “Savile was able to run rings around the police for decades. He used police officers.”

Mr Collins told ITV’s Daybreak: “”He was engrained with them, dovetailed with them.

“The report begs a lot more questions. It provides some answers but the report reveals memories that are not as sharp as perhaps they ought to be, ‘can’t remember’, documents that can’t seem to be located.

“It doesn’t add up.”

The report said 68 of Savile’s victims have now come forward in the force area. None came forward in his lifetime.

The youngest of these was five years old at the time and eight others were aged nine or under.

The report said: “No evidence has been found to conclude that there was any impropriety or misconduct in relation to the Friday Morning Club.”

The report also examined the way in which WYP used Savile’s celebrity status to front a range of campaigns and appeals.

It concluded: “The review team have concerns regarding the absence of a process to secure Savile’s services for some of these events and also the over-reliance on personal friendships that developed between Savile and some officers over a number of years to secure that support.”

The report said it was “of greater concern” that the force continued to used Savile as part of crime prevention campaigns even after it received a request from Surrey Police in 2007 to check what records were held on the broadcaster as part of its investigation into abuse at Duncroft School.

The report said: “Although rumours did exist of previous investigations taking place into allegations made against Savile, when these were explored they were found to be without any foundation.”

Despite numerous interviews, system searches and inquiries with other agencies, the review team found no evidence of any previous allegations being made to West Yorkshire Police against Savile.

It said: “The force does recognise that some people may have difficulty in reconciling this fact; indeed WYP has difficulty in reconciling this as, since October 2012, 68 victims have come forward to report Savile’s abuse in the West Yorkshire area.”

Assistant Chief Constable Ingrid Lee said in her introduction to the report: “There is no doubt that police forces made mistakes in relation to sharing and keeping information relating to Savile so no single clear picture of his offending could be made.

“As Savile’s home police force, WYP would have been the obvious place to collect all such information, but investigation has shown that much of the available information during Savile’s lifetime was never shared with WYP and, when it was, WYP did not connect the events to recognise a potential pattern of offending.”

Ms Lee said the review was started “to separate myth and rumour from fact”.

She said: “When taken in context, Savile lived for over 80 years as an individual who has duped millions into believing that he was a genuine celebrity, a charity fundraiser and a harmless eccentric who did nothing but good in our communities.”

Jon Christopher, of the West Yorkshire Police Federation, said people would ask precisely what was “going on” between Savile and senior police officers.

He told BBC Breakfast: “I think people will look at it and think ‘What is going on there?’.

“Because clearly he has been involved with a lot of officers and not just police officers, but other professionals as well.

“Nevertheless, it’s the police officers who are in the light with this one and clearly the lessons have to be learned from that, if he was under suspicion in other force areas that something could and should have been done at that time.”

Ms Lee told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I feel incredibly saddened that the victims didn’t feel able to come forward, and we must do everything we can, working with our partners, to ensure that we understand the reasons why, to encourage more victims to come forward because we will listen.

“We are in a completely different place now and we will take what they say seriously and we will take action.

Asked about a passage in Savile’s autobiography in which he said that a police officer was persuaded not to take action against him because “were I to go, I would probably take half the police station with me”, Ms Lee said: “We’ve investigated that thoroughly and we can find absolutely no evidence to support what he says in his diaries and his book.”

She added: “Savile was a national celebrity. He duped millions of people, the police included, into believing that he was a celebrity, a charity fundraiser, a person who did good for the community. He duped millions of people and lived on that myth for ages, and police officers also will have been duped in the same manner.

“But we must make sure that we do everything to ensure that our relationships with people, whether they are high-profile or not, are properly monitored and that there are safeguards in place to continue to protect the public and encourage victims to come forward.

“That’s why we’ve published our report, to make sure that everything, good and bad, is published so people can actually see the lengths we have gone to in order to try to understand our relationship with him and put measures in place to prevent it.”

Although it is now clear that information about allegations against Savile existed, West Yorkshire officers who associated with him were not aware of it at the time, said Ms Lee.

“They didn’t know, the people engaged with Jimmy Savile, that actually there were these allegations against him. That’s what our investigations found out,” she told Today.

“There clearly was information available that we should have tied together and we did fail victims in relation to tying that evidence together and we should have done. If he were alive today, there’s absolutely no doubt that he would have had a number of questions to answer.”

Challenged over an anonymous allegation about Savile which was reportedly lost after being forwarded to West Yorkshire by the Metropolitan Police, Ms Lee said: “That information is subject to an IPCC (Independent Police Complaints Commission) referral, so it would be wrong of me to discuss that in further detail, to allow them to conduct their investigations.

“Information was forwarded to the police, but actually we’ve got to look at where we were then, as compared to now. We didn’t have robust electronic systems in place.

“We’ve moved significantly forward in relation to how we handle intelligence, how we deal with victims, how we ensure information is tied together to make sure we have a complete picture so that this won’t happen again.”

West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson told the Today programme: “It’s right and proper that this report has been published, because when the scale and the enormity of the offences that Jimmy Savile has committed became apparent, I insisted with the Chief Constable that an internal investigation was undertaken.

“First and foremost, we needed to make sure that the victims of these crimes were able to come forward, have a voice, and to publish this report warts and all, whatever its findings. Today that’s been done and I think that’s very important.”

Mr Burns-Williamson said it was “a real concern” that Savile was not questioned over allegations against him, including the claims he made in his own autobiography.

“That is a real concern,” he said. “It’s quite apparent that things weren’t joined up and mistakes were made.

“I do also need to point out that a referral has been made to the Independent Police Complaints Commission. It’s one thing for West Yorkshire Police to carry out this investigation, which I’ve already said is right and proper and we need to learn all the lessons from this, but also in my view there does need to be this independent oversight of all the allegations and the force are co-operating fully with that.

“I can’t put a timescale on that. That’s a question for the IPCC. But they have been working on this for some months already.”

He added: “We’ve got to do everything we can. It’s not just the police, it’s other agencies involved. Of course the police are the emergency service of last resort, but of course there are lots of others involved in the work around sexual violence, rape and allegations of this nature, and we need to ensure we work very closely with these organisations to ensure that we are learning the lessons of this report and the findings of the IPCC report which will be published later on.”

Mr Collins said: “Whilst the report exonerates the police officers of misconduct, it fails to adequately address the relationship West Yorkshire Police enjoyed with Savile and how this influenced their judgement, either collectively or on the part of individuals.

“Were it not for those relationships the question must be asked, would the force’s attitude to Savile have been different?

“We note that the IPCC (Independent Police Complaints Commission) still has ongoing inquiries into the Savile affair and it is highly likely these questions will have to be revisited.”

Mark Williams-Thomas, the former police officer who led the investigation which uncovered Savile’s offending, said he was disappointed by the report.

He told BBC Radio 5Live: “It raises the issues really well, then it fails to acknowledge or deal with any of those issues, providing any evidence at all or any substance.”

Mr Williams-Thomas - who fronted the ITV documentary that led to Savile’s public reputation being demolished - contrasted the West Yorkshire Police response with Surrey Police’s internal report on its failings in relation to Savile.