Sir Jimmy Savile’s own words appear damning. I listened in disbelief to the recording of him espousing the view that Gary Glitter was targeted because of his wealth and celebrity and that he was only viewing some “dodgy” videos in the privacy of his own home.
If the allegations in Mark Williams-Thomas’s documentary are true, then those adults who said nothing when they saw him take children on trips or spend nights with them have to live with the fact that they should have done something.
It’s not good enough to say, “We didn’t know what to do — it was the Seventies”. Those same people lived with their knowledge in the years in which Gary Glitter and Jonathan King were prosecuted and there were investigations into the viewing of child abuse images on the internet involving celebrities such as Pete Townshend and Chris Langham.
Celebrity, wealth and influence were not a bar to investigation and prosecution, so why, if they suspected Jimmy Savile, didn’t they come forward?
Some might find comfort hiding behind the “greater good” theory, the idea that charities would lose out. If you knew and didn’t report because of some perverse allegiance to an organisation or individual, you have served neither well.
If everyone who is now saying they saw things and suspected worse had come forward, this would have been treated as the complex child abuse case that it appears to be.
We must expose the failings of a culture that covered up out of self-interest, fear of causing offence or misplaced loyalty. There are matters that should be the subject of criminal investigation. There also needs to be a wide-ranging review; one that looks at who knew what and when, what they did or did not do, and why?
It will be critical to focus on victims, and while recognising that many will be reluctant to report abuse, most will be watching and listening. Let’s send an unequivocal message that encourages every one of them to come forward now.
A report by Jim Gamble, former head of CEOP and current chief executive of INEQE Safe and Secure. Originally published in The Times, October 5th 2012.