Now that the report into the alleged crimes of Jimmy Savile has been published, it is time to make an assessment. As one insightful correspondent has pointed out, this is a nearly impossible task.
Although investigations are ongoing into allegations against other people, the one into the activities of Jimmy Savile – Operation Yewtree – has now been concluded, at least as much as it will ever be, and the public report published. Unusually it has been authored not by a senior police officer but by a senior police officer and an official of the NSPCC.
Most people believe this organisation is simply a children’s charity, in fact it is not quite that simple. To begin with, the NSPCC is an agenda driven special interest group, and like most such groups it is fond of churning out all manner of statistics aimed at pushing its own particular agenda (and justifying its existence). To take just one example, one of the current claims on its website is that “Almost one in 10 children in the UK are neglected by their parents, leaving them vulnerable to harm.”
Are we really expected to believe there are that many not simply bad but terrible parents in the UK? If this is indeed the case then it appears that contrary to its self-serving propaganda, the NSPCC has achieved remarkably little since its founding in 1884 (as the London Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children), and should be wound up. We can rule that out, if nothing else following the publication of this new report.
One of the first things one notices about the Savile report is that it states quite openly that it is alluding to those alleged to have been abused by Savile as victims rather than complainants. The vast majority of these allegations concern simple sexual assaults. With offences of this nature there is rarely any meaningful forensic evidence, so unless an assault is captured on video, witnessed by some independent individual, or a confession elicited, they are of necessity of the he said/she said type.
Many of the allegations made against Savile before the balloon went up do have a certain consistency, so we can say with a high degree of probability that that these ones have the ring of truth. But what of those that came to light only after the screening of that fateful documentary, or more realistically after the allegations therein became common knowledge sometime earlier?
There are two problems with these allegations: the first is that they are not intelligence driven but the result of a trawl; the second is that many of them are undoubtedly tainted if not generated entirely by money or some equally sordid motive that has absolutely nothing to do with justice.
Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Charles Moore addresses this latter point. At the risk of sounding frivolous, two words spring to mind re the former: flying saucers. As soon as one of these is sighted and reported significantly anywhere in the world, further reports from the vicinity are likely to be forthcoming. Operation Yewtree has started the criminal equivalent of a saucer flap – if you were sexually assaulted by Jimmy Savile, or if you think you were, we would like to hear from you.
The financial/self-aggrandisement angle is also not to be treated lightly. At least one firm of solicitors has and apparently is still advertising its services to pursue legal actions against the BBC in this connection, presumably on a no-win no-fee basis.
This is the well known scam of vicarious liability, dressed up as the BBC (or other institution) having “a duty of care” towards victims – real and imagined. Vicarious liability is one of the biggest scams ever foisted onto the public in Britain or anywhere else. Way back in 1862, it was held that “a master is liable for the torts of his servant acting within the scope of his authority even when he has expressly forbidden the servant to do the thing complained of.”
This provides a cop out on two counts. When the police overstep the mark and, say, assault or even torture a suspect, as happened in the Babar Ahmad case, there will generally be no legal redress for the victim against the officers concerned (with rare exceptions), and he will have to sue the police force itself. Which will lead to them fighting the case all the way and then settling at the court door with no admission of liability, the whole charade being paid for by public money.
On the second count, it means that people are able to pursue at times quite vacuous claims, usually against a private limited company – which of course is not funded by the public purse (in general) – and which may be inclined to settle the case for a princely sum (whatever its merits) in order to get rid of an expensive irritant. Many instances of so-called racial discrimination are cases of this nature, Britain’s Draconian and at times lunatic race laws providing a meal ticket for someone, as in the (failed) attempt of Sikpi v Catford Centre for the Unemployed.
In the spirit of this scam, it appears that many of these alleged victims of Jimmy Savile are or will be seeking to claim against either the BBC and/or his estate. To how much should they be entitled?
Savile was caught by the cameras apparently trying it on with a young woman on one occasion; he is said to have put his hand up her dress; we have only her word for it that this is what he actually did, but because she complained at the time, there is no reason to disbelieve her, although she doesn’t seem too perturbed in the video. The big question is, how much is that hand up her skirt worth in purely monetary terms?
Contrary to the propaganda churned out by special interest groups, minor sexual assaults do not ruin people’s lives – children and others. Savile is said to have also interfered with disabled and unconscious patients. A woman who is indecently assaulted (ie touched inappropriately) while she is unconscious or asleep will suffer no damage, physical or psychological, and it is silly to pretend otherwise, but these sort of assaults are rightly deplored, and when detected and proved should be punished with punitive sentences not because of the harm caused (nil), but because society demands, rightly, that men (and in very rare instances, women) do not exploit other people for their own sexual gratification other than in the context of consenting adults in an appropriate setting.
So again, how much is a hand up the skirt worth? One would have thought a slap round the face, but for Savile at least, that remedy is far too late. The minimum payout under the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme for any sort of injury is currently £1,000. Most of the real assaults committed by Savile can’t in all honesty be worth more than that, although many of the complainants will certainly be angling for much more. It is alleged Savile committed no fewer than 34 rapes; all or most of these appear to be what our American cousins call statutory rape, ie of underage girls, many of whom may have been willing, but of course in the UK a girl under 16 cannot give her consent, and a man of Savile’s age should know better. These will, if accepted as genuine, be entitled to a lot more. It seems unfair though that the BBC or any other institution should be held liable in any of these cases, so any payments should come out of Savile’s estate.
How many of the allegations against Savile are unworthy of belief? Two for certain: the claim that he indecently assaulted a woman on a train, which resulted in him being thumped by a member of the public. Likewise the claim that he bedded an underage girl more or less openly, according to one witness. That claim too is unworthy of belief, but the rest? Probably the best way to sort the wheat from the chaff is to toss a coin.
All the above leaves us with the question what do we do now with regard to this sort of thing in the future? One thing we should certainly not do is lower the burden of proof or tamper in any way, manner, shape or form with the criminal justice system. The fact that Savile is dead means that he is fair game for the most outrageous and indeed ludicrous allegations to be made against him; it has already been claimed he was a murderer. The reality is that not everything people tell us, be they women, children or proven victims, can be or should be believed. To give one example from another field, it is far from unknown for victims of genuine burglaries to make exaggerated claims for insurance purposes, just as it is far from unknown for people with vested interests to spout all manner of ludicrous statistics in support of their ideology or hobby. There should be no lowering of the standard of proof in criminal investigations. There is though no reason police forces and other agencies should not share relevant information, even about unproven or unfounded allegations that have been recorded officially or looked at. This is far from the first time an offender has slipped through the net because the police databases did not record this sort of information. If Soham murderer Ian Huntley had been “in the system” he may not have been offered a job as a school caretaker where he had access to young girls.
The rest of the answer is partly encouraging. Savile was most active from 1966 to 1976; that was a unique period in our history, not because men first walked on the Moon in 1969, but because this was the height of so-called sexual liberation. 1967 was the Summer of Love, from then until about the mid 1980s, rock musicians and the lighter popular artists were treated like kings. They were literally awash with money, not to mention drugs, there was glam rock, there were groupies, and kids of both sexes regularly came into contact with their heroes. Leaving aside any aesthetic reasons, there is no comparison with the adulation showered on the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and similar groups with that dished out today to the likes of Justin Bieber.
Al Stewart – who was there in the Swinging Sixties – told an audience that he once went backstage at a Beatles concert, something that is inconceivable now. In short, there is no access either way. Also, young girls nowadays are more likely to be writing and recording their own songs – for YouTube and MySpace – than queuing up outside some rock star’s dressing room. Much less so for any DJ.
All that is needed nowadays is to apply sensible precautions when adults (primarily men) come into contact with the young – boys as well as girls. There is no need for us to become paranoid about paedophiles, on the Internet or anywhere else. Doubtless the NSPCC will disagree, and will continue to hype up the threat in order to justify both its existence and the telephone number salaries paid to its top people. Most important here are stable families, which means rather than spreading scurrilous stories about Britain being a nation of abusers, organisations that work in this sector should be doing their best to support families rather than undermine them. There is of course a role for the police and others in the protection of the young, but most of Savile’s victims were willing – age of consent aside. When kids are raised correctly they don’t go looking for excitement in places they shouldn’t, and girls especially who are taught the facts about sex rather than the politically correct rubbish that is foisted on them by the wimmin’s movement, will be in the position to do what they are told to do about drugs, just say no! when Savile’s successors come calling.
[The above op-ed was first published January 17, 2013. The reference to Savile putting his hand up a woman’s skirt is inaccurate; she was wearing trouser at the time and was clearly unperturbed. Interviewed decades later, she had rewritten the incident in her tiny mind as a sexual assault, and the talking heads went along with her. After doing a lot more research over several years, I have come to the conclusion that all the allegations made against Savile are baseless. The Al Stewart anecdote is one he tells audiences regularly. I speak from personal experience!]
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