University leaders to hold talks on Savile’s honorary doctorate

THE University of Leeds could become the latest institution to distance itself from Jimmy Savile over the child sex abuse scandal surrounding the late star.

University chiefs awarded the Leeds-born TV presenter and charity fundraiser an honorary doctorate of law in 1986.

Now, however, the award is due to be discussed by a university committee following a month of claims that have left his reputation in tatters.

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A spokeswoman for the university said: “At the time of [Savile’s] nomination and when the award was conferred, no concerns had been raised with the university about his behaviour and we were not aware of any allegations against him. In the light of this new information, the matter will be discussed when the honorary degree committee next meets [later this month].”

The university confirmed last month that funds donated by Savile were still being used to support its Leeds Undergraduate Research Enterprise scheme.

A string of institutions have moved to sever ties with Savile since the storm over his alleged crimes broke.

The Saviles Hall conference centre in Leeds has changed its name while the Jimmy Savile Charitable Trust is preparing to close down.

Councillors will meet on Monday to consider taking the late star’s name off a board at Scarborough Town Hall listing people who have been made freemen of the borough.

Plans for a statue of Savile in Scarborough have also been dropped while his gravestone has been removed from the town’s Woodlands Cemetery at his family’s request.

There have also been calls for Savile to be stripped of his knighthood, although such a move is not thought to be possible as the honour technically dies with its recipient.

Meanwhile, comedian Freddie Starr was questioned by police and released on bail again yesterday.

He had earlier been released on bail after being quizzed by detectives as part of Scotland Yard’s Operation Yewtree investigation into the Savile case.

A man named by sources as Starr, 69, was detained in Warwickshire on Thursday evening on suspicion of sexual offences before being released during the early hours of yesterday.

Starr has been publicly implicated in the Savile scandal but has strongly denied accusations he molested a teenager in Savile’s BBC dressing room in 1974.

Last month he branded Savile “despicable” and urged police to interview him so he could clear his name.

His arrest followed that of Gary Glitter on Sunday by the Operation Yewtree team.

The former pop star was questioned at a central London police station after being held at his home in the capital.

Glitter, whose real name is Paul Gadd, was photographed leaving Charing Cross police station later that day but Scotland Yard did not comment on his release.

Detectives fear that Savile may have abused as many as 300 young people over the course of six decades. Claims against the BBC presenter began to mount up after an ITV documentary about his alleged activities aired at the beginning of last month.

Scotland Yard was subsequently handed the national lead on the case and on October 19 said that it had become a formal criminal investigation. Detectives said their probe had been upgraded from a basic assessment of allegations because lines of inquiry had been found involving “living people that require formal investigation”.

The Department of Health is also looking into claims that some of Savile’s alleged attacks took place on NHS premises.

Bosses at the BBC have launched two inquiries into the scandal.

PR guru Max Clifford yesterday said many old stars were worried about being dragged into the Savile investigation.

“It is a situation which could easily turn into a witch-hunt, a lot of big stars are frightened,” Mr Clifford told ITV’s Daybreak programme.

“Where is it going to end? I hope they [the police] concentrate on finding people like Jimmy Savile who were manipulating girls.”