I was warned that the BBC Director General’s job was hellacious, but I didn’t expect the revelation about Jimmy Savile’s paedophilia would come up. And neither did George Entwistle, the person who did get the job. Entwhistle was grilled in front of the House of Common’s culture committee about this topic. I have to admit that this is a serious bombshell to have to deal with.
The real question to me is how much of this was known and when? After all, it has been alleged that Savile paedophilia went on for 30-40 years without anyone saying anything about it. Although, there are stories about reports being made to the BBC hierarchy, but ignored.
The other thing which bothers me is Esther Rantzen did nothing about it. She admits to having heard rumours about Savile’s alleged paedophila. Rantzen told told ITV1’s This Morning: “As Ian Hislop said so brilliantly last week, knowledge means that you hear from the person it happened to or a witness and that’s what the ITV documentary showed me…Up until then, I’ve heard rumours about the royal family, politicians, about TV presenters and my view about rumours is the vast majority of the rumours are untrue.”
Rantzen also said she had “no memory” of being contacted by campaigner Shy Keenan who said she told her about Savile saying: “Now the lady who says that she told me 18 years ago – I’ve gone back through the records of that year to see if we ever did an item about child abuse in that series of That’s Life…she says she met me then…I have no memory of her at all…And we did one item about child abuse in that series and it was about criminal compensation… the other members of That’s Life staff have no memory of her.”
Furthermore, Rantzen said no one complained to her Childline charity about Savile.
But the real bothersome thing about all this is that Savile died a year ago. There are a couple of legal issues I have with that: first off, justice was delayed in this matter. Secondly, there is no confrontation of the accused by the accuser. can justice really occur in such a situation?
I feel for the victims of paedophila, but I have several problems with having a posthumous investigation of events which happened so long ago. Other than airing their complaints, what else will this help if the perpetrator is dead?
Yes, there is the culture which allowed for Savile to get away with this sort of thing for as long as he did. One person opined that the children were silenced by his wealth and celebrity. Despite that, every one of them had the power to bring him down if only they’d known it. The trouble was that none realised it, or none thought they’d be listened to. At least one had her complaint dismissed by the headmistress at the School where Savile found many of his victims.
But if a child can make their voice heard and they are telling the truth, their accusation will not stand alone for long. When accusations emerge against people who are serial offenders, such as Jimmy Savile and Jerry Sandusky, they turn into an avalanche.
The lesson is that adults must listen with respect. They must finally understand that no-one is above suspicion; that no-one should avoid scrutiny because of who they are. There are too many cases where there are accusations and suspicions which are not properly investigated due to people’s position and the institution they work for.
On the other hand, I worry that the fall out will effect people and institutions who weren’t involved due to the lateness of any action being taken in this case. Perhaps the real lesson of Jimmy Savile and Jerry Sandusky is that there should be a proper investigation of these matters since ignoring them hurts not only the victims, but the institution.