Dec 20, 2012

Savile scandal probes history of dangerously free love

As the inquiries into the Jimmy Savile scandal widen, the present is cannibalising the past, to general distress. The question is: how many other people will be drawn in?

Guy Rundle — Correspondent-at-large

Guy Rundle


Coming back into Heathrow — rain, rows of brown houses on the ground, a decaying terminal, with its faux pub, warm Carlsberg and prawn cocktail sandwiches — the tabloid headings on the WH Smiths rack at Heathrow said it all: “Savile — BBC didn’t want obituary”.

The Jimmy Savile scandal was unfolding as I left the UK in October; it has now opened wider than a slit parachute. Today the findings of the inquiry headed by former Sky News head Nick Pollard were released, painting a fairly damning picture of “confusion and chaos” at the Beeb, as the process of sorting out whether Savile should get a tribute program or an expose after his death.

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29 thoughts on “Savile scandal probes history of dangerously free love

  1. cairns50

    another great article guy thanks

  2. Dani Dambrosio

    This is a very well written article Guy, and so true – how our state of living is now permanently in the present.. damn shame; and I didn’t even grow up in that golden age.

  3. zut alors

    A terrific piece, Guy. All credit to you and the English air.

  4. Damian Lloveda

    Kudos. Top quality article, very well written. I mentioned to a friend in passing, pieces which provoke more thought and more questions is what i seek. Here i found.

  5. michael r james

    [Coming back into Heathrow — rain, rows of brown houses on the ground, a decaying terminal, with its faux pub, warm Carlsberg and prawn cocktail sandwiches — the tabloid headings on the WH Smiths rack at Heathrow said it all: “Savile — BBC didn’t want obituary”.]

    Oh, lawdy me, as if the first para is not bad enough, the rest of the article is such a downer. Good writing of course, but too good. It makes me feel sick. I don’t know how you do it. Go back to that sh!t country, I mean. Last time I arrived there–very similar ambience as your first para–it was only minutes before I foreswore to never visit again if possible. The vibe is intolerable.

    The Savile scandal indeed says it all. The French have President’s secret families, or presidential contenders (DSK) whose hyper-active s*x life leaves one breathless, perhaps not exactly with admiration or envy but still … debonnaire, charming, smart and powerful men of the world … Instead the Brits have a greasy shyster mummy’s-boy p_edo who makes one’s skin crawl.

    And that is not a retroactive opinion. Like Mike Carlton noted a while back, when he interviewed Savile in London in the late 70s, he was filled with revulsion about 60 seconds into the interview. Notwithstanding the quasi-reality behind the “two full generations of Brits have fond memories” of the sleazebag, from my first tv sighting of him in 1980, it was a deeply worrying mystery as to why anyone tolerated him as 30 seconds was more than enough. And that is without knowing the worst of it.

    It even brings to mind–though some will find it an unfair stretch–the ’97 election of Tony Blair. I couldn’t understand how Brits could stand the guy let alone consider him some kind of political hero. Back then he made my skin crawl too, and perhaps today as we see him fleetingly flickering on the tube, more Brits would agree. Just another political chancer with a (peculiar) Oxford accent leading the herd and entire country down a cul de sac.

    “… a sort of permanent Heathrow of the soul. Nor will we soon be out of it.” Guy, you gotta get outta there! It’s not even interesting to document this Brit type of decadence (and we have Dalrymple for that). And Tony Abbott is there! As FDOTM says today: “Pass me a bucket”.

  6. dale ross

    Unfortunately Guy you are making dangerous assumptions such as claiming the accusations are true when no such thing has been proved in a court- they ARE still accusations against a man who can no longer defend himself.

    You also use the idiotic tabloid perversion of the word pedophilia which has a distinct clinical and legal definition to describe events if true, would be unlawful sex with an underaged person. This is NOT pedophilia.

    Such loose tabloid skewering of language is as dangerous as the tabloid media has been in all this ie: a sacked editor of The Sun (one charged in the hacking scandal) claims he knew all about Savile but was precluded form ‘exposing’ him because of libel laws.

    That does not explain why the entirety of Fleet Street however went on promoting Savile on a weekly basis whilst at the same time claiming they knew of these alleged offenses. Including soppy eulogies upon his death one year ago.

    If it is true what is claimed about Savile, Britain’s media should be in the dock as well if for no more reason than the Murdoch media quite happily printed topless photos of teen girls, some below age 16 up until 2003 wen the laws changed. Such photos would now be considered child p*rn but it seems media moguls are exempt.

    The real story about the Savile claims is that of the role of the media and that includes our ABC which outrageously broadcast a gutter type tabloid TV commercial show about this very matter on 4 Corners- a show more suitable for Fox News.

    As usual, the media itself avoids any scrutiny in it’s role in these scandals.

  7. Roberto Tedesco

    Jeez, Michael R James and Mike Carlton could have saved everyone a lot of time if they’d only let us know when they knew. Doggone etc.

  8. Guy Rundle


    presumption of innocence in commentary applies when someone’s alive, and/or there is no preponderance of evidence. There is overwhelming evidence of Savile’s predatory behaviour, from dozens of unconnected victims. It’s beyond serious question.

    You should read the article more carefully. I have made the distinction between paedophilia – sex with pre-pubescents – and underage sex with teenagers of 14,15, etc. I agree that the ‘p’ word is overused. But there is clear evidence that Savile sexually abused pre-pubescent children, and so paedophile he was.

  9. dale ross

    Further proof that the Jimmy Savile matter is exposing how our media has become an echo chamber of rumour and purveyor of tabloid type opinion not fact.

    Whatever the reality of the claims against Savile- not yet proved in a court of law but taken as fact by the media including crikey in Guy Rundle’s article, the Pollard Report into why the BBC did not broadcast a program about Savile explains why the ABC 4 Corners should never have stooped to presenting a tabloid style program on this very matter :
    “‘The extent to which we had to rely on the testimony from [[R1]] was stark. She was the only victim in vision we had and would be the face of our allegations and I remained concerned about how well her testimony would stand up to the scrutiny it would get. I was also concerned with the way we had collected the additional evidence from other victims and witnesses, The women were to remain anonymous. The interviews had all been done on the telephone. Some of them were done by a junior researcher who was with us on work experience who I had never worked with. I was also concerned that the evidence could potentially be undermined because some of the women had already discussed the claims amongst themselves via a social networking site. In my personal experience, the strongest testimony from victims of alleged child sexual abuse has to be collected individually, face to face, on neutral territory, with trained interviewers used to not asking leading questions. This was a long way from what we had done.
    For these reasons I emailed Meirion on 30th November saying I wanted to pursue the CPS angle on the story to its end before finally deciding on publishing…’.”
    The ABC program was basically what the BBC refused to broadcast for very solid reasons : it was their failure to follow up that was the problem.
    What the Savile affair is demonstrating from the other side of the world is proof that our once trusted ABC is being reduced to Today Tonight / A Current Affair style sensationalism which also includes news reports as dire as the commercial outlets.

    Yet not a peep from anyone.

  10. Hugh (Charlie) McColl

    Dale Ross, you make the assertion that claims about Savile are “not yet proved in a court”, as if they might some day get to court. This is a very weak position to argue a defense of Savile – who has no rights whatsoever since he is dead. It might be in bad taste to ‘defame the dead’ but you should know by now that it is a free-for-all.
    I wonder if you are sufficiently moved by all of this to make contact with Savile’s family who also seem to have taken things into their own hands. “Savile’s family arranged for his gravestone to be removed, crushed and the debris thrown into the sea.” Perhaps someone there knew things we will never know. Never want or need to know.

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