As Gary Glitter (70) joins other 1970s icons in prison, there must be a fair chance that he will not survive the sixteen years, even with remission. Few will care.
But the biggest fish got away. Jimmy Saville. He died three years ago and actually held in high esteem. But it was only a matter of months after he lay in state in a gold coffin, that his legacy was re-written. The catalogue of his crimes is sickening. From Necrophilia to Paedophilia….to abusing sixty patients, old, young and disabled…in just one hospital. His celebrity gave him access to other vulnerable girls and women in other hospitals and living in and even holding the keys to rooms in Britains most secure mental hospital.
If he was alive today…and clearly he isnt….and charged with even a handful of these offences…then at almost 90 years of age, he would die in prison.
It has always been the case that The Rich, The Powerful and The Famous have used their money, power and fame to impress the people who are impressed by Money, Power and Fame. There were and are willing women. And the growing permissiveness from the mid1960s allowed a lot of men to “fill their boots”.
Of course, the line is crossed when Sex is predatory and not consensual.
So how did Jimmy Saville get away with it?….EASILY.
Too easily. In the 1950s and 1960s Saville was a Dance Hall DJ in the north of England. By his own accounts, he had relationships with young women. But his accounts never said just “how young”. He talks about knowing a lot about underworld activity and the darker side of Dance Hall Culture in northern towns like Leeds and Manchester. He maybe overstates the case that he was handy in fights and had a good relationship with the Police.
To some extent, Saville was made for the 1960s……he is rooted in the 1950s but as Manford says that’s when the 1960s actually began…..the 1950s. So he was ideally placed to take advantage of the explosion in “pop music”. With British radio in the control of the BBC, Saville was one of those DJs who broadcast …at least technically from the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. In actual fact the radio shows were taped in London an flown to Luxembourg, to get around broadcasting restrictions, which included all night music and programmes, directly sponsored by record companies. And broadcast into millions of homes……..and my bedroom, where I was an avid 12 year old listener.
Of course, it was a culture of cash stuffed in brown envelopes and a chance for DJs like Saville to exploit their fame. And perhaps develop a sense of Entitlement.
Maybe that’s the thing that comes too easily with Money, Power and Fame…a sense of Entitlement.
So when BBC at the height of Beatlemania developed its first real “pop music” TV programme “Top of the Pops”, Saville was the obvious choice to host the first one and to be one of the four who presented the first few years on a monthly rota.
It is now hard to describe just how popular Jimmy Saville was in the late 1960s and early 1970s. He LOOKED different, his long (dyed) blonde hair, his trademark cigar and his sense of dress…unlike the other three stereotypical BBC men, Pete Murray, Alan Freeman and David Jacobs….suited and with posh BBC accents (Freeman was actually Australian). So Saville was the one that young people identified with.
It is impossible also to talk about Saville without noting his sense of showmanship. He was a very fit man….he wrestled. And he cycled and ran marathons, often for charity. But unknown to his fans (but surely known by charities), he was a firm believer in Charity “beginning at home”. Maybe the organisers of marathons simply accepted the fact that he brought in so much money for them that he was entitled to some unofficial commission. He was not shy about his charity work. Indeed he was often seen publicly working for his local hospital in Leeds. It would (after his death) be revealed, proven and accepted that he used his position as a volunteer hospital porter and celebrity to abuse patients.
Yet there is a contradiction. Saville was a Catholic.And boasted of his more acceptable and legal excesses.He liked young women, which seemed ok as young women liked him. And yet there was something about him that suggested a “religious” medieval nobleman, who balanced his sexual appetites with alms-giving to buy his way into Heaven.
Later Jimmy Saville would be chief fundraiser for Stoke Mandeville Hospital, a centre for people who suffered loss of mobility. Certainly his demeanour suggested a man who cared deeply for the patients, even if he came across as an eccentric, embarrassing, over-familiar but good natured uncle.
And yet as with his local hospital in Leeds, he used his position to abuse patients. He even had his own apartment in the Nurses Home. When footage is shown of him leering about this, it seems creepy in 2015 and yet, the best part of forty years ago, it seems like a (then) acceptable Benny Hill-type middle aged man. Of course, I don’t think anyone doubted that he was sexually active. As a man of Wealth, Power and Fame, it would be normal in the context of consensual sex.
But there were suggestions made to Management that he was a “sex pest”. Suggestions that were ignored. And Saville was still on the rise as Britains best loved celebrity.
Advertising acmpaigns such as wearing seat belts …”Clunk Click Every Trip”emphasised this. At worst, he was eccentric. Maybe he himself realised that he was just too old to be a Disc Jockey and so began a new career as a TV personality. The BBC built a long running show ” Jim ‘ll Fix It” around him. The premise of the show was that people (often children and often ill) would write to him to arrange some “dream” to meet a singer, group, football team….or even Prime Minister. Margaret Thatcher.
Yet Saville continued to abuse. Children were invited to BBC studios. They were abused. The BBC is curiously guarded. Some ex programme makers claim that “everyone knew about Saville”. Others claim “nobody knew” and there is a third narrative that “we all knew the rumours”.
Yet Saville went from strength to strength. Now a friend of Margaret Thatcher, he was appointed by the Conservatives to Broadmoor (Criminal Psychiatric Hospital). His exact role is hard to say, other than he had an apartment on the site and had keys in an “access all areas” way to some very disturbed people. Inevitably Women were abused.
Saville ….the eccentric do-gooder had reached the position of being a British National Treasure. Friend of Royalty, he was made “Sir Jimmy Saville”. He was also a Papal Knight, honoured by the Catholic Church. Public acknowledgements by his Country and his Church that he was a “good man”.
I find that unbelievable. In Leeds, Stoke Mandeville, BBC, Broadmoor and in his dance hall DJ days, he left a legacy of abuse…complaint, investigation by statutory bodies, including the Police.
I find it odd that nobody in British Intelligence did not inform people close to Thatcher that befriending Saville was a very bad idea for a Prime Minister. It beggars belief that the Honours Committee in the British Cabinet Office were unaware of the true nature of Saville and and recommended him for a knighthood.
What we do know is that a deceased member of Margaret Thatchers inner circle was a paedophile. We know of persistent speculation about a high level political paedophile ring. Did the Security Services know?
Arguably the Catholic Church has a better Intelligence Service than the British Government. Even if Jimmy Saville conned his confessors, it must have been the case that bishops got feedback from parishioners and other sources that Saville was not the kinda man who deserved to be a poster boy for Catholicism as a “Knight of St Gregory”. There must surely have been more than one “Student Nurse Mary Anne Murphy from Ballydehob, County Cork” to report upwardly that Jimmy Saville was a “durty aul bastard”.
So Police, BBC, Health Authorities. Government, Church and Newspapers (journalists now claim that they knew but were too afraid of legal action) all knew. Can there be any doubt?
Of course from the 1990s to his death in 2011, Saville was an elderly relic, rarely on TV. Curiously in one of his last appearances, he told interviewer Louis Theroux about the rumours around him. Seemingly it was an unsolicited comment.
It is largely believed that Jimmy Saville “hid in public view”. That he had actually for five decades made his own Paedophile and Rapist status obvious. And that the people who should have spotted it, missed it. I do not believe this. Saville was either very lucky or he was protected.
Within days of his death, the truth about Jimmy Saville was known. And the truth about other abusers at the BBC such as Stuart Hall and Rolf Harris. Both in their 80s, they were sent to prison for sex crimes. At least one (Harris) is still in prison. And as 1970s star, Gary Glitter (in his 70s) begins sixteen years in prison, it is obvious that Jimmy Saville “should” be in jail.
He is dead. Yet he is not around to see that his legacy is a shameful one. His victims deserve better.
Has he escaped Justice? Surely he is the best advert for the existence of Hell. Are our lives without account? Can the fate of a righteous person be the same as an evil person? Does Dietrich Bonhoeffer have the same (non existent) after-life as Adolf Hitler?
I don’t want to believe that. Surely Jimmy Saville is in Hell.