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Go-ahead for Savile abuse payouts

A compensation scheme set up for women who say they were sexually abused by television personality Jimmy Savile has been sanctioned by the Court of Appeal.

Three appeal judges gave their verdict today after a charity which is the major beneficiary of Savile's estate raised concerns about the scheme.

Lawyers representing the Jimmy Savile Charitable Trust said the scheme - agreed between the estate executor, the NatWest bank, and lawyers representing alleged victims - did not assess the ''validity'' of claimants and lacked a ''process of evaluation''.

Appeal judges were asked to consider the case in the wake of rulings by a High Court judge.

Mr Justice Sales sanctioned the compensation scheme - despite objections from the trust - following a High Court hearing in London in February.

Judges heard that Savile, who died in October 2011 aged 84, was the subject of an ITV television programme broadcast in October 2012.

Savile, who worked at the BBC, was accused of being a ''serial child abuser and sex offender'' and was alleged to have abused people in hospitals.

Following the broadcast, a ''large number'' of people came forward to make claims that they were abused by him.

Lawyers said the number of people making compensation claims after alleging they were abuse victims rose above 200.

Experts initially put the value of Savile's estate at around £4 million. But in February, Mr Justice Sales said a ''range of expenses'' was incurred and the estate's value was reduced to about £3.3 million.

Liz Dux, a lawyer at law firm Slater & Gordon which represents victims, said: "Today's ruling will bring great relief to Savile's many victims who have been living with the uncertainty of not knowing whether they would be blocked in their claims.

"They just want some recognition of what they have been through so they can then be able to move on with their lives. Hundreds of Savile's victims, who are represented by Slater & Gordon, have already signed up to the scheme in the hope that they would receive some form of justice without the need for drawn-out and costly litigation.

"The court were told in length about the system of scrutiny that exists under the scheme and were satisfied that there were sufficient checks and balances in place. The Court of Appeal held that they had no doubt that many of the claims were meritorious and would be successful if litigated. This is not a charter for fraudulent claims."

Appeal judges analysed arguments at a hearing in London last month and delivered a ruling today.

Mr Justice Sales also refused to order the NatWest to be replaced as executor a nd appeal judges gave their backing to that decision today.

"This ruling is hugely important to the victims. They have been on a roller-coaster," added Ms Dux. "They will feel huge relief."

She said: "They just want to move on with their lives. They want this over ... It is not about the money. They want recognition for what happened."

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