British Police Force Denies Protecting Savile From Abuse Allegations

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LONDON -- The police force in the hometown of the disgraced British television presenter Jimmy Savile said on Friday that there was no evidence that its officers shielded Mr. Savile from arrest or prosecution in any of scores of cases of sexual abuse, mainly of teenage girls, that have surfaced since he died in 2011.

But the inquiry uncovered evidence of what seemed a cozy and largely undocumented network of high-level contacts between Mr. Savile and the police and other members of the elite at a regular social gathering known as the Friday Morning Club in his apartment.

It also found that even after complaints against Mr. Savile were made elsewhere in Britain, the police in Leeds, his hometown, continued to turn to him for help in promoting crime prevention campaigns, relying on his celebrity status as a quirky entertainer known publicly for charitable works.

"It seems to me that West Yorkshire Police over the years failed to join up the dots," said Alan Collins, a lawyer representing 40 of the hundreds of people who have made accusations against Mr. Savile since his death at age 84. "They had intelligence that something wasn't right, if I can put it as mildly as that, and, against that background, they were using Savile for crime prevention campaigns and so on."

"So he's been given this aura of respectability again and again actually by West Yorkshire Police."

"There seems to be a collective myopia," Mr. Collins said. "Savile was able to run rings around the police for decades. He used police officers. He was ingrained with them, dovetailed with them."

The finding after an internal inquiry threw some light on his close relationship with officers in West Yorkshire, where 68 abuse complaints were filed in a scandal that has rocked the British Broadcasting Corporation, Mr. Savile's longtime employer, and galvanized the police into a series of arrests, mainly of aging entertainers caught up in a belated investigation.

"There is no doubt that police forces made mistakes in relation to sharing and keeping information relating to Savile so no single clear picture of his offending could be made," Assistant Chief Constable Ingrid Lee said in an introduction to the 60-page report.

"Much of the available information during Savile's lifetime was never shared" with the West Yorkshire Police and when it was, the police "did not connect the events to recognize a potential pattern of offending."

"When taken in context, Savile lived for over 80 years as an individual who has duped millions into believing that he was a genuine celebrity, a charity fund-raiser and a harmless eccentric who did nothing but good in our communities," she said. "However, evidence now suggests that he was a predatory pedophile and manipulative liar who caused harm to so many.

"It is clear that many people felt unable to report these dreadful crimes to West Yorkshire Police or to one of the many agencies specially trained to independently receive such complaints," the officer said.

The West Yorkshire Police inquiry found that some officers from the West Yorkshire Police force routinely attended the Friday Morning Club in the northern city of Leeds, where Mr. Savile lived.

But, it said, "There is no evidence that he was protected from arrest or prosecution for any offenses as a result of his relationship with West Yorkshire Police, or individual friendships with officers."

It added: "No evidence has been found to conclude that there was any impropriety or misconduct in relation to the Friday Morning Club. All of those people spoken to who had knowledge of the Friday Morning Club described it as a 'coffee morning.' "

"Savile had friends who were police officers, but he also had friends that were solicitors, doctors and many other professions," the report said.

"All inquiries have shown that Savile was able to hide his offending from those he came into contact with and who probably thought that they knew him well."

Word of the most recent arrest triggered by the Savile affair emerged earlier this week when British news media identified a 73-year-old suspect as the entertainer Jimmy Tarbuck. The case concerns accusations of abuse of a young boy in Harrogate near Leeds in the late 1970s.

Reflecting the territorial distinctions between Britain's police forces, the Tarbuck investigation was carried out by members of the North Yorkshire Police as a separate inquiry based on information from Operation Yewtree, the overall police inquiry into allegations against Mr. Savile and other people. About a dozen men, including some of the country's best-known television personalities of the 1960s and 1970s, have been arrested.

Part of the public fascination with the Savile case relates to how a popular entertainer, known for charitable works, could avoid the attention of the police for so long even though he had hinted broadly in his own autobiography about sexual exploits.

The police report on Friday suggested that Mr. Savile's relationship with individual police officers was close enough for one of them, at least, identified only as Inspector A, to intercede on his behalf when officers in Surrey, in southern England, contacted the West Yorkshire force in 2007 about an abuse allegation.

The officer contacted the Surrey Police on behalf of Mr. Savile because the entertainer had lost the investigating officer's contact details, the report said. The West Yorkshire officer had said he was a personal friend of Mr. Savile and had added: "Jimmy gets so many of these type of complaints."

For his part, Mr. Savile had contacted the Surrey police later and "told them there was a West Yorkshire inspector who normally deals with this sort of thing."

Despite the 2007 inquiry from Surrey, the West Yorkshire Police still turned to Mr. Savile for help in promoting crime prevention campaigns, the report said. "The reason for this was that the information was no shared across departments, there was no recognition of the impact of this information and no checks were made on intelligence systems in securing Savile's services," the report added.

world

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.


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