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Five 'missed opportunities' to stop Jimmy Savile and Stuart Hall

Published 25/02/2016

Dame Janet Smith listed a number of complaints and concerns about Jimmy Savile and Stuart Hall
Dame Janet Smith listed a number of complaints and concerns about Jimmy Savile and Stuart Hall

Jimmy Savile's abuse of youngsters could have been spotted and action taken as far back as 1969 if the alarm had been raised, Dame Janet Smith said.

Her report highlights five clear "missed opportunities" among a wider number of complaints and concerns about the Top Of The Pops presenter and fellow sex criminal Stuart Hall's behaviour during the 1970s and 1980s, when they were at the peak of their popularity.

They included:

1969: Savile groped a female BBC worker. When she told her bosses their reaction was "no surprise and to suggest it would have been more surprising if Savile had not tried to touch her".

1969: A 16-year-old girl was molested by Savile while standing next to him on a podium during the filming of Top Of The Pops (TOTP). She complained to a man with a clipboard but was "ejected from the building and left on the street".

1973: Douglas Muggeridge, controller of Radio 1, launched an inquiry into rumours of Savile's behaviour and also asked a press officer to investigate whether the rumours were known to Fleet Street. Savile denied the allegations and the inquiry was closed.

Mid-1970s: Ian Hampton, the bass player in electro-pop band Sparks, told the BBC about rumours he had heard that "Savile had sex with under-age girls". He also saw Savile leave TOTP with young girls on two occasions but was told "not to be silly" when he reported it.

Mid-1970s: A young male BBC trainee was molested when he went into Savile's dressing room to fit a microphone on him.

1976: Savile molested another young girl on camera while filming TOTP. The girl complained to a BBC employee who dismissed it as "just Jimmy Savile mucking about" and ordered her out of the way of the camera.

1978/79: Savile's Radio 1 producer Ted Beston invited a 19-year-old waitress to a drinks party involving Savile. The star sexually assaulted her in a curtained off area. She ran out and told Beston, who "treated her as if she was being silly" and suggested she go back in.

Mid 1980s: Savile made a lewd comment to a female studio manager but no action was taken after she reported it to her line manager and the personnel department.

1988/89: Savile sexually assaulted a junior female staff member at Television Centre. She was told: "Keep your mouth shut, he's a VIP."

Dame Janet said that of these incidents, the assaults on two girls on TOTP and Mr Muggeridge's investigation could be classed as three "missed opportunities", saying: "I can't say that proper investigation of those complaints would have resulted in prosecution. But the BBC would at least have become aware of Savile's nature."

She was also critical of the BBC's response to a scandal after the News Of The World published a 1971 story about under-age girls being picked up for sex and pornographic images being made, as well as suggestions of corruption over the choice of records played.

There were also two chances to stop Hall's offending at BBC Manchester in the 1970s, Dame Janet said.

Raymond Colley, the regional television manager at BBC Manchester from 1970 to 1986, challenged Hall about rumours he was having sex in his dressing room soon after taking up the post. Dame Janet criticised Mr Colley for warning Hall about his future conduct but failing to follow this up by checking on the star's behaviour.

Dame Janet said: "He overestimated his own authority and he underestimated Stuart Hall's duplicity. Had Mr Colley kept a watch on Hall it is likely he would have been stopped."

She was also critical of Tom German, the news editor in the 1970s who has since died. Dame Janet said he was "probably aware" Hall was having sex on BBC premises, but had not known children were involved.

She added: "If he was it seems to me he should have shared his concerns with Mr Colley. He did not do so and this may well have been the fifth missed opportunity."

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