Shamed Savile gave out prizes at city school during visit in 1970s

Jimmy Savile.
Jimmy Savile.
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A LEEDS school at the centre of a new Jimmy Savile child sex abuse probe hosted the disgraced presenter for a prize-giving ceremony in the 1970s, it has emerged.

Notre Dame Grammar School, now known as Notre Dame Catholic Sixth Form College in Woodhouse, is one of three sites in and around the city where allegations about Savile’s activities in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s are being investigated at the order of Education Secretary Michael Gove.

When the probe of 21 schools and children’s homes nationwide was revealed last month, the Diocese of Leeds, which runs Notre Dame, said it carried out its own investigation after the revelations first emerged about Savile in 2012.

Spokesman John Grady said at the time it “could find no evidence that Jimmy Savile had any contact with Notre Dame school or any of our [diocesan] children’s homes”.

It has now emerged that Savile, said to be the country’s most prolific paedophile, was invited onto the premises at the school in the early 1970s to present an award to pupils.

The Diocese says “there is no reason to doubt” the visit took place after a former teacher at the school contacted the Yorkshire Post to highlight the incident.

A separate comment left on the newspaper’s website said: “As a former Notre Dame girl I remember Jimmy Saville coming to the school in about 1972/73. He came to present an award for charity fund raising so to say that we was never there is inaccurate.”

In response, Mr Grady said the probe carried out in 2012 was into whether Savile had regular contact with the school and would not have noted one-off visits.

He said: “The previous investigation was about a different incident altogether. It was to investigate general contact with the school.”

Mr Gove 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.

Among the other sites under investigation are Northways Residential School in Clifford, near Wetherby, which closed in 1997, and Beechcroft Children’s Home, which was said to be in Leeds but whose history is unclear. Other schools and homes in focus are spread over towns and cities across England.

A spokeswoman for Leeds City Council said: “Our investigations into ‘Northways Residential School’ and ‘Beechcroft Children’s Home’ are still at a very early stage and therefore we are unable to confirm any details at this time.

“It has been also agreed that it would be most appropriate for Leeds City Council to lead on the investigation in to the former Notre Dame Grammar school.”

Mr Gove said that, to ensure consistency with probes into alleged abuse by Savile at NHS sites which are due to finish this summer, he would repeat arrangements put in place by the Department of Health to oversee the new inquiries.

A documentary about Leeds-born Savile shown on ITV in October 2012 led to a review into allegations the television presenter abused women, girls and boys. The findings published in January last year saw 214 criminal offences, including 34 rapes, recorded against his name across the UK between 1955 and 2009.