ITV stands by film alleging Savile abused schoolgirls

Tue, Oct 2, 2012, 01:00

ITV HAS said it stands by a documentary that claims Jimmy Savile sexually abused schoolgirls after a member of his family said they were “disgusted and disappointed” by the allegations.

Exposure: The Other Side of Jimmy Savile, which airs tomorrow night, details claims from women dating to the 1970s, including allegations that he abused girls in his Rolls-Royce and at BBC TV Centre.

Roger Foster, Savile’s nephew, said his family was “disgusted and disappointed” the allegations were being made when the presenter, who died last year aged 84, was no longer around to defend himself.

An ITV spokesman said: “This documentary is the result of an in-depth investigation into long-standing allegations of serious and widespread sexual misconduct by Sir Jimmy Savile. Because of the very serious nature of the claims made by several interviewees in relation to this, particular care and consideration was of course given to the decision to produce and broadcast this programme.

“The programme takes full account of the fact that Sir Jimmy is not here to defend himself against these claims.”

Mr Foster, from Goole, East Yorkshire, said he was not only concerned for his uncle’s reputation and legacy but also for the damage the allegations could do to his charities. “I just don’t understand the motives behind this,” he said. “I just think it’s very, very sad you can say these things after someone’s died and the law says you can’t defend yourself when you’re dead.”

Savile was famous for TV shows such as Jim’ll Fix It and Top of the Pops as well as being a DJ on BBC Radio 1.

ITV said the programme, presented by former detective Mark Williams-Thomas, features contributions from several women who claim Savile was a sexual predator who sexually assaulted them while they were under-age. ITV said the programme would allege that the broadcaster preyed on teenagers whom he invited to appear on his TV shows.

ChildLine founder Esther Rantzen, who worked for the BBC during the 1970s, told the programme she now believed Savile sexually abused under-age girls, after seeing the fresh evidence from their interviews.

“We all blocked our ears to the gossip,” she said. “We made him into the Jimmy Savile who was untouchable, who nobody could criticise. Jim’ll Fix It was for children. He was a sort of God-like figure,” she said.

The BBC responded to reports that inappropriate behaviour by Savile was an “open secret” at the corporation by saying it had found no evidence of misconduct.

“In the absence of evidence of any kind found at the BBC that corroborates the allegations that have been made, it is simply not possible for the corporation to take any further action,” it said in a statement.

The BBC also explained why an investigation into Savile by BBC2’s Newsnight was never broadcast. Newsnight editor Peter Rippon said: “It is absolutely untrue that the Newsnight investigation was dropped for anything other than editorial reasons. We have been very clear from the start that the piece was not broadcast because the story we were pursuing could not be substantiated.”