Classic was Jimmy Savile’s use of the cloak of authority and kindness. Savile’s celebrity allowed him to acquire this authority. As we consider the regulation of the media and the legal right to privacy it is worth reflecting on how the Savile scandal happened. It happened because the aura of Sir Jimmy’s celebrity protected him from scrutiny by the press.

Daniel Finkelstein on celeb power and the Jimmy Savile child abuse scandal. Read more

Jimmy Savile was a “good man”, sexual assault on minors is a “bad thing”, and therefore the girls alone in the dressing room must have meant something else than illegal sex. We tend towards such binary thinking, which may be one reason why we continually hear phrases like “he wasn’t the suicidal type” of a suicide, or “he was a gentle boy” of a murderer.

David Aaronovitch examines the Jimmy Savile child abuse allegations

Jimmy Savile’s affections laid bare by…Jimmy Savile?

Hugo Rifkind

In today’s Times story about the allegations surrounding Jimmy Savile, David Sanderson highlighted some quotes from As It Happens, Savile’s 1974 autobiography, that nobody else seems to have picked up on. It’s strange that they haven’t, because they are startling:

[Savile] writes of an incident at the Mecca Locarno ballroom in Leeds, where he worked as a DJ during the 1950s, when a female police officer came in with a photograph of “an attractive girl who had run away from a remand home”.

Savile writes: “‘Ah,’ says I all serious, ‘if she comes in I’ll bring her back tomorrow but I’ll keep her all night first as my reward’.” He then writes that the girl did go into the club and “agreed that I hand her over if she could stay at the dance, [and] come home with me”. He wrote that he did then hand her over to the “lady of the law…[who] was dissuaded from bringing charges against me by her colleagues, for it was well known that were I to go I would probably take half the station with me”.

I repeat, this is Savile’s autobiography. It wasn’t winkled out of him by a cunning interviewer; he didn’t let it slip when he was pissed. It wasn’t a post-modern joke.

Rather, these are words he wrote in a book, which were read by a publisher, and presumably by lawyers, and by reviewers, and by readers. One of his alleged victims even claims he gave her a copy of it, after abusing her, with the inscription “No Escape!”.

What can these words possibly mean, except for what they seem to mean? How can nobody have noticed?

Right now, many are presumably wondering how his behaviour can have been concealed for so long. But it wasn’t concealed. It was right out there, in plain view, and nobody wanted to see. I’m not sure what the lesson of all this is, but if there is one, it’s horribly bleak.

@hugorifkind

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