Jimmy Savile’s victims are launching compensation claims for millions of pounds, it emerged last night.
They are to sue the BBC, NHS and the education authorities for failing to prevent the sexual predator and accomplices carrying out attacks over decades.The numbers coming forward have risen in recent days as victims become more confident about taking legal action after Scotland Yard branded Savile one of Britain’s worst sex offenders.
Twelve claims for damages are being considered so far.It also emerged last night that the BBC ‘censored’ a series of emails that indicated senior executives were involved in the decision to axe a Newsnight investigation into Savile.
The emails were due to be included in last night’s Panorama programme but were pulled at the insistence of corporation lawyers. Today the spotlight will shift to BBC director-general George Entwistle as he gives evidence to MPs on the Culture Select Committee about what he knew of the Savile scandal.He has insisted that he has nothing to hide despite facing persistent criticism for failing to get a grip on the crisis that has engulfed the corporation.Last year, then in charge of TV for the BBC, he went ahead with Christmas tributes to Savile – even as his colleagues gathered evidence that he abused children on BBC premises.
MPs want to know why he didn’t show more curiosity when Director of News Helen Boaden told him that the Christmas schedules may have to be rearranged if the planned Newsnight report on Savile’s abuse went ahead.Last night Tory peer and former Culture Secretary David Mellor said there was ‘blood lust’ in the BBC and suggested Mr Entwistle could even lose his job.
‘It was always said about the BBC: “Assistant heads must roll whenever there’s a problem”. I think it’ll go beyond that – and that’s not me wanting that, it’s just me feeling it,’ he said.Yesterday, in another dramatic day as the corporation grappled with what its own staff have branded its ‘worst crisis in 50 years’:
- Newsnight’s editor Peter Rippon ‘stepped aside’ from his role after it emerged the public had been repeatedly misled over why the Newsnight report was axed;
- The BBC admitted a blog by Mr Rippon on October 2 was riddled with inaccuracies, and issued a humiliating three corrections;
- Downing Street has raised the possibility of a Leveson-style probe into the BBC over why Savile had been allowed to abuse so many victims for so long;
- The Prime Minister said it was ‘concerning’ the BBC had changed its story about why last year’s Newsnight film into Savile was scrapped;
- Police revealed a further four victims came forward in 2009 while Savile was still alive but they were unable to bring any prosecutions.
More than 200 victims have now told police they were abused by Savile over a 50-year period going back to the late 1950s.Asked if Mr Cameron would consider a judicial inquiry into the Savile scandal, his official spokesman said: ‘We have said before that we are not ruling anything out and that remains the case.’The compensation move was revealed by Liz Dux, a lawyer at Russell Jones & Walker specialising in child abuse cases.
‘The allegation is that other members of the BBC were involved,’ she said. ‘It wasn’t just Savile and it was organised, so we weren’t surprised when the police said they believed there could have been a ring.‘They are people who said they did tell someone, and nothing was done. One of the assaults happened in the middle of a canteen.‘We have had some from every institution: Leeds General Infirmary, Broadmoor and Stoke Mandeville hospitals, Duncroft School, the BBC and a care home.’
Miss Dux said 12 claims for damages were being considered so far, on the grounds that institutions had ‘vicarious liability’ for the activities of their staff or their agents.On Friday, Scotland Yard said Savile may have been at the centre of a network of paedophiles who targeted more than 200 victims. Police are hunting accomplices of the paedophile presenter.Gary Glitter was said to have raped a 13-year-old girl in the Jim’ll Fix It’s BBC dressing room, while other celebrities have also been named.
Essex County Council paid nearly £1million to four sex abuse victims earlier this year. If the BBC faces similar claims, its payout could run into several million pounds.David Cameron said yesterday: ‘The developments are concerning because the BBC has effectively changed its story about why it dropped the Newsnight programme about Jimmy Savile.’Yesterday John Whittingdale, the Culture Committee’s chairman, said it was ‘extraordinary’ Mr Entwistle had not been more curious when he was briefed on the Newsnight film last December.
David Cameron refused to rule out that the new director general, George Entwistle, would have to quit over the Savile scandal and said he didn’t rule out further inquiries into the affair.Asked by Tom Bradby on ITV1’s The Agenda whether the BBC chief should immediately be sacked, he could only say that ‘I don’t think it’s a question of that at this stage.’ – Dailymail