YP Comment: Savile - How did BBC not know?

EVEN though he was the face of popular entertainment for decades, Jimmy Savile's sexual depravity was such that most people, not least his many, many victims, are so repulsed by the sight of the predatory paedophile's photograph that they do not deserve gratuitous reminders of the haunting image and the sickening memories it brings back.

A copy of The Dame Janet Smith Review Report at BBC Broadcasting House in London following its publication on former television presenter Jimmy Savile and Stuart Hall.

As Dame Janet Smith’s shocking report revealed the extent to which the manipulative Leeds broadcaster abused his position at the BBC, and the trust of his young fans, The Yorkshire Post has taken the decision to refrain from publishing images of the disgraced DJ.

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After all, this monster’s victims – the most important people of all – continue to be haunted by Savile from beyond the grave because there is no end to the revelations, Nor, too, do all those who were taken in by Savile’s depraved deceit and how he used his untouchable status to abuse the vulnerable and the impressionable with total impunity for decades.

In light of these harrowing findings, the broadcaster, and other institutions, have a moral duty to review their safeguarding procedures to ensure that such a betrayal can never happen today. This is made all the more necessary by Dame Janet’s damning conclusion that “an atmosphere of fear still exists today in the BBC” – an organisation which missed at least five chances to bring Savile to justice.

And, given many find it inconceivable that the Corporation’s most senior executives were not aware of the scale of the cover-up that was taking place on their watch because of a culture of “reverence and fear” towards so-called “celebrities”, the onus must be on the BBC to demonstrate that lessons have been learned. It can begin by demonstrating the robustness of its whistleblowing procedures.

In the meantime, the priority for the Government, police and others is providing support to those victims who have come forward and those who might now have the courage to do so – a more enlightened approach to abuse allegations is about the only positive to emerge from this scandal, and those others, which have so appalled the nation. For the victims, theirs is a living nightmare and they will continue to be haunted by Savile and his like long after the BBC has drawn a line under the most shameful episode in its history.

AS the first snowdrops and crocuses of Spring appear, the sighs of relief at the Department of Health’s offices in London are audible ones because of a belief that the worst of winter is over for another year. However such a response will be not only premature – Britain remains in the grip of a cold snap – but also complacent in the extreme. The harsh truth is that the Government has only escaped a greater winter beds crisis because of predominantly wet and windy weather.

Yet luck is no way to run a health – or energy – policy as disturbing new figures from National Energy Action reveal that it is costing the cash-strapped NHS £3.6m a day, and in excess of a £1bn a year, to treat patients with health conditions exacerbated by cold, damp housing. It’s a false economy that is neither sustainable – or justifiable. Even David Cameron accepts this. In response to a question on January 13 from Barnsley MP Dan Jarvis revealing that 117,000 people had died unnecessarily from the cold in the past four years, the Prime Minister said the shocking statistics were “a standing rebuke to all Governments about what more needs to be done”.

This rare humility on the PM’s part prompted this newspaper to challenge Ministers, and the energy industry, to see if they could speed up the insulation of those homes where the elderly are deemed to be at most risk of hypothermia.

To her credit, Energy Secretary Amber Rudd has now told MPs that “there is more we can do through regulation” to address the issue of cold homes. What measures – and when? Let’s hope the Government provides answers, and some action, before next winter.

WORDS cannot do justice to Helen Butters, Janette Benaddi, Niki Doeg and Frances Davies after this “oarsome foursome” rowed into the record books. Despite being confronted by a hurricane on their epic voyage across the Atlantic, these supermums have become the oldest female crew to row across any ocean. Having decided to embark upon this journey after a glass of wine, the outcome was never in doubt – and they richly deserve the plaudits bestowed upon them. To coin a phrase, they have done Yorkshire proud.