TWO Yorkshire schools and a children’s home in the region are at the centre of new inquiries into alleged child sex abuse by disgraced presenter Jimmy Savile.
Education Secretary Michael Gove yesterday ordered probes to be carried out at Northways Residential School, Beechcroft Children’s Home and Notre Dame Grammar School.
He said allegations about the shamed Leeds DJ’s connections to 21 schools and children’s homes across the country dating back to the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s were handed to the Department for Education after a review by the Metropolitan Police.
Leeds City Council promised to investigate the allegations at the two city-run institutions named in Mr Gove’s list, but said it was unaware of any sites called ‘Beechcroft Children’s Home’ in the Leeds area.
Northways Residential School, which was based in Clifford, near Wetherby, closed in 1997. Of the three named institutions, only Notre Dame Grammar School, now known as Notre Dame Catholic Sixth Form College in Woodhouse, Leeds, is still running.
John Grady, spokesman for the Diocese of Leeds, which runs the school, said it carried out its own investigation after the revelations first emerged about Savile in 2012. He said it “could find no evidence that Jimmy Savile had any contact with Notre Dame school or any of our [diocesan] children’s homes”.
He added: “He did have contact with a children’s home that wasn’t ours but that was one where some of our children resided. It doesn’t surprise me that this investigation has been announced - the police have to follow inquiries through to their conclusion.”
The former Henshaws School for the Blind was listed as being in Leeds by the DfE, though the charity that runs it said it did not know if the allegations focused on its old school in Manchester or Harrogate.
Other schools and homes in focus are spread across England, including Bournemouth, Devon, Gloucestershire, London and Manchester among others.
Mr Gove said that, to ensure consistency with the investigations into alleged abuse by Savile at NHS sites which is expected to finish this summer, he would repeat arrangements put in place by the Department of Health to oversee the new inquiries.
Exposure: The Other Side Of Jimmy Savile, which was shown on ITV in October 2012, ultimately led to a joint review by the Metropolitan Police and NSPCC into allegations that the television presenter abused women, girls and boys.
The findings of the review, published in January last year, saw 214 criminal offences, including 34 rapes, recorded against Savile’s name across the UK between 1955 and 2009.
Alan Collins, abuse lawyer at Slater and Gordon which represents 140 of Savile’s alleged victims, said: “We welcome any investigation that will uncover further how widespread Savile’s abuse was. It is important that we know exactly when, where and how this predatory paedophile committed his horrific crimes.”