Reports on Jimmy Savile reveal litany of abuse

Ex-BBC DJ assaulted 60 people aged between five and 75 in Leeds hospital alone

Jimmy Savile impressed, or silenced by ostentatious generosity.

In the late 1960s, broadcaster Jimmy Savile bought a new Rolls Royce: a not unusual action among the newly enriched musicians, singers and entertainers of that decade. Unusually, however, he asked the garage that sold it to him for Green Shield stamps, the shoppers’ loyalty scheme collected by two generations of housewives.

Half of the stamps he gave to Leeds General Infirmary to upgrade its ramshackle hospital radio service which “hadn’t been much of one up until then”, recalled a worker. His ostentatious generosity had burrowed him just that little bit further into the Leeds hospital – one of many institutions where he inveigled himself over the decades.

Once inside he ruthlessly exploited patients, sometimes staff. An inquiry yesterday recorded 60 known victims in Leeds alone, perhaps more – aged from five to 75. Three were raped.


His relationship with the infirmary began in 1960, based on a childhood friendship with head porter Charles Hulligan, who ran the hospital’s radio service.

Impressed chairman

In the early hours of Whit Saturday 1968 a serious fire broke out on the Martin wing of the hospital, causing serious damage. Savile had been on stage the night before in Cardiff. By 9.30am he was on the telephone, enquiring about patients and staff. By 5pm he had cancelled weekend engagements and was working alongside staff as they cleaned up.

“This greatly impressed the then chairman of the board of governors Sir Donald Kaberry [now deceased],” noted the official report, authored by barrister Kate Lampard.

Shortly after, Savile asked permission to do two days of voluntary work each week in the infirmary – a request that was cleared by the hospital’s board of governors.

He spent a month in the X-ray department and became “so involved with patients and hospital work in general that he decided to stay on”. Soon, his presence was “an unremarked upon event”.

Kaberry was not the only one to be swayed by Savile’s fame. Again and again in numerous locations, people failed to notice his abuse. In some places a few failed to act even when they had.

His behaviour was cloaked not just by his volunteering, but also by his fundraising. Over the years he raised £3.5 million for the infirmary, even sitting in the chairman’s seat to receive donations.

Eyes of the dead

A Metropolitan Police investigation has already linked Savile to 214 crimes, including 34 rapes, across Britain between 1955 and 2009 – the last just two years before he died aged 84.

Some of the most shocking allegations can never be proven: his claim that he wore rings made from the glass eyes of the dead, or boasts that he had sex with corpses in mortuaries.

Savile was remarkably open about his conduct, to a few. One former nurse in Broadmoor mental hospital said Savile had claimed that he and others often had “a muck about” in the morgue. He claimed male and female bodies would be posed for sex act photographs and “that he got involved in some of the photographs”, recalled the witness.

“He used the phrase that you don’t [hear often] – it’s not so common nowadays, he talked about gamaroosh . . . It means oral sex . . . He’d go down on them and gamaroosh and muck about in that way,” said the nurse.

One woman alleges that Savile and another man brought her into a filthy men’s ward in a Prestwich mental hospital “with the smell of excrement everywhere”, occupied by naked patients. Savile abused her there, telling her that “if she ever told anyone about the abuse she was suffering she would be brought back and locked in the room with the men”.

Often, younger staff in some of the institutions frequented by Savile were given coded warnings by older staff “to stay away” from him, but few patient made formal complaints.

Equally, it is clear that he exploited the inexperience of student nurses who were often left in charge of under-staffed wards for hours.

Demanding a change in the law, solicitor Liz Dux, who represents many of Savile’s victims, said hospital staff must be legally compelled to report suspicions.

A full public inquiry into Savile’s abuse must be held, she said.

“We do know that members of staff were told,” she added. “This must be gone into in greater detail.”