Jimmy Savile has been the centre of an avalanche of accusations in the last week.

None of which have been proven in court yet but are all very disturbing.

Carl Loben look at this fast moving case that could be the pinnacle of an iceberg and gives a personal view…

 

Jimmy Savile – One Week On

 

The Jimmy Savile saga is a fast-moving news story. The ITV documentary on Wednesday October 3rd was when it all kicked off, with at least five women saying the former DJ and Top Of The Pops presenter abused them when they were young teenagers — but even at first the allegations weren’t believed in some quarters.

Now though, one week on, the Metropolitan Police have announced that Operation Yewtree is pursuing 120 lines of enquiry connected to Savile’s predatory behaviour – with at least 25 victims of rape and sexual assault over an astonishing 50 years. The first was in 1959, the most recent not long before before he died. Even more are likely to follow. It seems beyond doubt that Savile was as guilty as sin of these crimes – and the scandal of the collusion with his behaviour is only just starting to unfold.

TV presenter Esther Rantzen wrote in the Daily Telegraph: “There was a kind of national conspiracy which united all of us, and together we colluded with him. TV producers, viewers, the media, the fans, the charities he supported – we all allowed Jimmy to create the perfect shield, the mask of an eccentric jester we could laugh at, the saintly image we admired, an unassailable combination that protected him like armour.”

Rantzen, who set up ChildLine in the mid-80s – a telephone counselling service for kids to call if they’re being bullied or abused – seemed to show remorse at the end of the ITV documentary after being shown the testimonies of the women accusing Savile of abusing them when they were girls. Everything seemed to click into place for Esther as she realised how Savile had got away with his behaviour for decades, yet her attempt to shift the blame onto “viewers… the fans… the charities” is laughable.

It was those who worked most closely with Savile – in BBC television, at Radio 1 – who are most culpable of turning a blind eye. The BBC were slow to react even as this scandal broke, not immediately ordering an internal inquiry or explaining why a Newsnight investigation into Savile’s abuse was shelved just before a positive pro-Savile documentary was screened on the Beeb about his TV achievements last year.

Talk in the media soon turned to who else was involved in the abuse of young girls alongside Savile. Convicted paedophile Gary Glitter was named as also allegedly raping a 13-year-old girl in Savile’s BBC dressing room, and is to be interviewed by the police. Freddie Starr tried to take out an injunction to stop his name being associated with the underage groping sessions on BBC premises. When this failed, he simply denied all allegations.

Regurgitating an old Julie Burchill accusation, the Daily Mail went after the great John Peel for admitting in his autobiography that he had sexual liaisons with underage girls in America – a charge successfully refuted by Colin Morton’s piece on LTW here (insert link) – but there was one crucial distinction between Peel and Savile’s misdemeanours: CONSENT. Savile groomed young girls, often from damaged backgrounds or children’s homes, before pouncing on them when he got them alone. They simply weren’t believed, even if they dared to report something about Saint Jimmy.

There were whispers for years, though. Knighted by his friend Margaret Thatcher in 1990, there have been calls to strip Savile of this knighthood posthumously – The Sun newspaper, which didn’t publish anything about Jimmy Savile’s sex crimes when he was alive, have started a front page campaign to have his knighthood removed. But why didn’t the tabloids expose him at any time during the last 30 years?

The former Radio 1 DJ Paul Gambaccini claimed Savile used his charity work to prevent his abuse of schoolchildren being exposed. “He was called and he said, ‘Well, you could run that story, but if you do there goes the funds that come in to Stoke Mandeville – do you want to be responsible for the drying up of the charity donations?’ And they backed down.”

Still thought of as some sort of saint by many until recently, Savile was fortunate to have died before he was able to be held to account for years of sexual abuse of young girls. The Telegraph announced that his four-grand gravestone was going to be dismantled, on orders of his family, “out of respect for public opinion”. Savile’s epitaph read: “It was good while it lasted.”

As articles emerged on the treatment of women in workplaces in the sexist seventies, more and more reports of Savile’s abusive behaviour came out. Coleen Nolan had a lucky escape, but Savile apparently molested a helpless hospital patient recovering from brain surgery when working as a volunteer hospital porter in 1972 in Leeds General Infirmary, according to a retired nurse in the Daily Mirror. He was also accused of groping a teenager after an op at the same hospital in a separate claim. The woman, now 55, said: “I felt too frightened to report it because everyone thought he was a saint.”

Horrible as all these revelations are though, what does it have to do with music? Well, Savile was reportedly the first ever DJ to put two turntables together at a gig during the second world war – although this claim has been disputed. Nevertheless, latterly he self-styled himself as “the godfather of DJ culture” – which is why I came to interview him a few years ago for DJ Magazine – and was one of the most prominent figures in pop music in the second half of the 20th century. In the ‘50s he ran a slew of Manchester nightclubs (which is where he first gained his ‘hardman’ reputation), and also effectively one of the first DJ agencies by putting 400 DJs into 52 dancehalls in the north.

He joined Radio Luxembourg in 1958, becoming one of their most popular DJs, and in the early sixties he was the founding presenter of Top Of The Pops. Friends with The Beatles, he was voted No.1 DJ in the NME for 11 years in a row, and carried on presenting on Top Of The Pops right up to its final show in 2006. He was also on Radio 1 from its beginning in the late sixties until 1987.

His TV career flourished in the ‘70s with shows like Jim’ll Fix It (which is where I first met him, and visited his dressing room, as a young teenager. My school-friend and I asked for his autograph, and he was cold, rude and more or less told us to sod off. We were probably lucky… It was fun meeting his guests that week, though, Elvis Costello & The Attractions, and guest singer Glenn Tilbrook of Squeeze, and drinking cider in their dressing room). Although arguably more into his own ego than in promoting new music, Savile was still part of the narrative for much of modern-day popular music.

So the question for the music community is how to respond to these vile Savile allegations?

Top Of The Pops are announcing that they’re suspending the repeat broadcast of shows featuring him, but should he be completely written out of history? Or what sort of example should be made of him, if these allegations continue to stack up, so that hopefully similar tales of the abuse of showbiz power don’t happen again?

The list of victims is growing daily. None of the women stepping forward to claim they were raped or molested as schoolgirls by Savile has asked for anything in return for telling their story.

“At this stage it is quite clear from what women are telling us that Savile was a predatory sex offender,” said Commander Peter Spindler, head of specialist crime investigations, in an interview with the BBC.

“It’s vital that those who have been victims of that actually get the recognition and acknowledgement and support that they deserve.”

Carl Loben

Contributing Editor

DJ Magazine

carl@djmag.com

13 COMMENTS

  1. Carl Loben, you obviously do not understand the concept of consent. If someone is under the age of consent it means they are deemed incapable of giving consent to a sexual act due to their immaturity whether that be deemed physical or intellectual immaturity. The age of consent is drawn at a certain age in society where consensus deems people of that age to be able to make up their own minds. Therefore, the distinction you draw between Peel and Savile’s activity in terms of willing or unwilling is spurious. Obviously, as Peel told it the girls were perfectly willing to do whatever they did with him. No one is accusing him of forcing himself on them unlike Savile. However, they were under the age of consent and therefore not able to legally give consent. Their willingness or not is irrelevant. Peel was getting blow jobs from 13 year olds when he was in his 20’s.
    And Colin B. Morton did not ‘successfully refute the allegations’ his piece was poorly written and attracted several commenters who disagreed with him.
    Peel played some great music on the radio, he gave exposure to a lot of wonderful artists who have enriched all our lives. He was also a bit of sexual predator who took advantage of much younger girls, in one case, the 13 year old, a child, when he was younger.

  2. Carl, persons of 13yrs of age are not able to consent – granted they can physically/verbally agree to taking part in sexual behaviour, however consent has to be informed consent and persons of 12/13yrs of age are not deemed capable of providing informed consent. Blow jobs with 13yr old children = sexual abuse; there is no other explanation.

  3. https://fbcdn-sphotos-f-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-snc7/419430_10151255626195609_1010386011_n.jpg
    You could not make this shit up.
    There appears to be some kind of groundswell that says ‘it was years ago, different culture, let it lie’ but it was wrong then and it’s wrong now. This is the reason ‘political correctness’ exists because there are so many twats out there only too willing to destroy other people via all kinds of abuse, to satisfy their own wretchedly low self esteem.

  4. Thanks for the feedback, the point I was trying to make in this round-up of the Savile accusations was about his revolting predatory behaviour. I know that the age of consent is 16, and that Peel was wrong to have sexual relations with underage girls when he was in his 20s. So was Bill Wyman of The Stones, Jimmy Page of Led Zep, Jerry Lee Lewis, and so on and so forth – plenty of other rock & pop stars over the years, I should imagine. But why these latter figures aren’t considered as demonic as Savile now is is because – although it was illegal – there wasn’t the same kind of coercion as appeared to have been the case in most of the Savile instances. Have you heard that audio recording that Channel 4 put on their website, of Savile molesting a young girl? It’s like some sort of vile snuff movie.
    On here or on Facebook, no-one’s answered my question yet – how should the music community respond to these vile Savile allegations?
    With debate about appropriate behaviour, I should hope…

  5. You should look up the phrase “agr of consent”, it’s also a well know New Order song you may – or may not – be aware of. Anyway, yet more hogwash re. Peel from this website, I’m not sure why you are so keen to exonerate. I will say this, like I said on the previous thread, John Peel admitted to The Guardian in an interview in 1975 that he received blowjobs from girls as young as 13. That makes him a nonce, no matter how much you want to deify him. You can slag off the Burchill piece as much as you like but a) Peel didn’t sue despite being very rich, and b) she wrote that well before Peel published his autobiography, the quotes are from various interviews he’s given over the years.

  6. I’ve just re-read my piece, and I wasn’t trying to excuse what Peel did back then – I realise that you’re legally not able to give informed consent until sixteen, and that those laws are in place for a reason.

  7. I think this John Robb (former BBC employee) created web site has sex abuse cover up mentality. This is the second attempt to white wash this material. Burchill’s allegations have not been refuted, despite what Loben says. John Peel had regular sex with a 13 year old.

    With confirmation that Jimmy Savile, Freddie Starr, Gary Glitter, Jonathan King, Pete Townsend and John Peel were all paedophiles, I think the UK Government should immediately announce a full public inquiry into Child Abuse by the TV, Radio and Music Industry in the UK. We need to cleanse the BBC and Music business in the UK. But I’m sure too many vested interests like John Robb want this swept under the carpet. Shame on you for being apologists for paedophiles.

  8. Carl Loben: you’ve not refuted the Burchill allegation’s, John Peel repeatedly had sex with a 13 year old girl. We need a full public inquiry into TV, Radio and Music Industry involvement in child sex abuse. Not a white wash from the BBC and its former employees.

  9. While not condoning getting blow jobs from 13 year olds, there is still no comparison with Saville whatsoever. This information has been out there for a long time so why is it being stirred up now? Not that it shouldn’t be discussed, but why not before now?

    It may warrant criticism because it is clearly worthy of criticism but there is no way on earth that the 2 are comparable. Any man is capable of being fooled by an underage girl dressed up to look older, only freaks would do the things Saville has done.

  10. “I realise that you’re legally not able to give informed consent until sixteen”

    In this country. 16 is high compared to most European countries. It’s 14 in Germany and 13 in Spain. I don’t know what the ideal level would be, but while Savile clearly was a horrible abuser, to compare John Peel to him is just laughable and disgusting.

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