Scotland Yard detectives probing the growing list of child abuse claims against Jimmy Savile will visit Broadmoor psychiatric hospital in Berkshire today in a bid to gather new evidence about claims that he sexually assaulted patients at the high-security facility.
The Metropolitan Police's focus on Broadmoor, given the ex-BBC star's lengthy association with the hospital, indicates its determination to ensure that if anyone helped Savile at any point through six decades of alleged abuse, and they are still alive, they will face criminal charges of culpability.
Detectives will probe the administrative background that led to Savile being appointed to head a task force in 1988 that oversaw Broadmoor's work.
The Justice Secretary, Chris Grayling, said yesterday the scale of Savile's abuse now emerging had left him “utterly horrified”.
The Met is co-ordinating evidence and allegations from 14 other English forces, along with claims received by hospital and care authorities, including the NSPCC. Their objective is to produce an authoritative report “within months”.
According to one senior police source, individual claims of sexual abuse against Savile could pass 50 before the end of this week. Scotland Yard is currently pursuing close to 350 lines of inquiry stretching from 1959 to 2006.
Yesterday, one of Savile's former bosses at Radio 1 said he had questioned him over rumours about his private life 20 years ago. Derek Chinnery, the station's controller from 1976 to 1985, said he confronted Savile, asking him: “What's all this, these rumours we hear about you, Jimmy?” Savile replied: “That's all nonsense.”
Mr Chinnery did not push the matter, saying: “There was no reason to disbelieve. It's easy now to say how could you just believe him? But he was the sort of man who attracted rumours.”
Meanwhile, others have been forced to defend their actions in relation to Savile's activities.
Esther Rantzen, founder of Childline, said: “When I heard rumours about Jimmy Savile some time ago, at no stage did I ever come across a child or witness or an adult survivor who told me of abuse by Jimmy Savile.”