He never put a foot wrong, says campaigner who met DJ in 1980s
Rosemary Craig met Jimmy Savile in the 1980s as she campaigned to raise awareness about the plight of disabled police officers who had been injured in the line of duty during the Troubles.
Now a law lecturer at Ulster University, Mrs Craig was astounded by the power and influence the BBC presenter wielded - but said she saw no sign of the sexual predator we now know Savile was.
Last night Mrs Craig spoke of her visit to Stoke Mandeville Hospital to ask for Savile's support for her campaign.
"We had no money, no one wanted to know us," the academic said.
"But because a lot of the injured police officers had spinal injuries, I thought I would contact Jimmy Savile at Stoke Mandeville. He invited me over, and I went with a disabled officer from Banbridge. Jimmy Savile paid for our tickets, and even sent a car to the airport to pick us up."
She said she was surprised to see him wearing a white coat at the hospital, as if he was a consultant.
"He was being treated like royalty," she said. "It was like the parting of the Red Sea."
His influence thanks to the sheer star power of his name and reputation was enormous, according to Mrs Craig.
"Jimmy Savile opened doors for us to help the people I was trying to get help for - doors I never could have opened myself," she said.
Yesterday a leaked report detailed the scale of Savile's sexual abuse inside the BBC. Mrs Craig said that in her dealings with him there was no hint of his dark side.
"I can't say a bad word about him: Savile was the man who got the Government to meet us. I was invited to Stormont Castle to meet (former Northern Ireland Office ministers and Conservative MPs) Brian Mawhinney and Michael Mates and make the case for disabled police officers.
"In all that time he never put a foot wrong. There was never a hint of anything.
"I never suspected a thing."