Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 19 April 2014

Savile abuse report 'distressing'

There are 16 reported cases of abuse by Jimmy Savile at Leeds General Infirmary

Jimmy Savile victimised some of the most vulnerable people in society in the places where they should have felt safest, according to a report into the disgraced TV presenter's predatory sex offending.

Detectives have been contacted about 50 cases of abuse at 14 medical institutions including hospitals, psychiatric units and even a hospice, according to the joint Scotland Yard and NSPCC report.

Four alleged offences took place at psychiatric hospitals and Savile is also said to have abused a seriously ill teenager at a hospice. He gained access to vulnerable patients by using his growing celebrity status, according to the report.

"At Leeds General Infirmary, Broadmoor Hospital and Stoke Mandeville Hospital he was taken at face value as a volunteer and fundraiser, probably because of his growing celebrity status," the report states. "Having been accepted at these institutions he gained access to vulnerable children and adults."

Healthcare organisations at the centre of the scandal have described the report into the abuse as "extremely distressing". The majority of the NHS institutions involved have launched investigations into abuse allegations and the Department of Health (DH) is conducting a separate investigation run by a former barrister.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said investigations should look into whether any NHS employee knew what was going on and turned a blind eye to the abuse. "We knew when the investigation opened in the autumn that we had a problem in three NHS organisations but today we realise that it's gone a lot further than that," he said.

"The first thing I want to say is that I feel a real sense of shock that this happened over 41 years and these are people who are, by definition, the most vulnerable people in society and this evil man was able to prey on them," he said.

But a lawyer representing 50 of Savile's victims criticised the NHS investigations for being slow. Liz Dux said a number of those affected have already given evidence to the BBC probe, but the NHS inquiries were taking place more slowly. "We have a concern that there are just no specific opportunities for victims to give evidence," she said. "Those organisations which have been named for the first time today must hold their own inquiries."

Savile is reported to have committed offences at hospitals around Britain, including at four mental health institutions. He has been accused of committing one offence at Broadmoor psychiatric hospital, in Berkshire, in 1991. The presenter had his own set of keys to the hospital and also had an office and flat outside the main building.

There were 16 reported cases of abuse at Leeds General Infirmary, where Savile was a porter between 1965 and 1995. Another victim is said to have been abused at St James's Teaching Hospital, which is also run by Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust.

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