Jimmy Savile was under investigation for a sex attack on BBC premises as early as the 1980s, Scotland Yard said, as it emerged that at least four police forces were aware of claims against the former DJ while he was still alive.
A retired police officer has come forward to say that he investigated Savile after a victim spoke to the force about an attack inside the presenter's caravan at a BBC car park in west London.
The officer, who worked for the Yard's juvenile bureau, said that there had not been enough evidence to mount a prosecution.
But questions are being asked about the extent of the failure by the authorities to link a series of complaints against Savile. At least seven women reported attacks by the BBC star before his death last year at the age of 84.
Commander Peter Spindler, who is leading the Scotland Yard inquiry, said yesterday that another woman came forward to the force in 2003 to report that Savile had touched her inappropriately in the 1970s. She did not want to press charges but wanted police to know in case it fitted in with any other pattern, he said.
Scotland Yard said yesterday that 300 victims have come forward since the allegations were aired three weeks ago, making Savile one of the most prolific British sex abusers.