Wednesday, 3 October 2012

What should victims of Jimmy Savile be doing now?

There is no doubt that the media splurge on Jimmy Savile is too little to late. It is alleged in the papers by his victims that he has been abusing young girls for many years under the noses of various figures of authority, who were so under the Savile spell that they were reluctant to "blow the whistle". He had become so involved with charity and done so much good work to help them that no one wanted to "burst the bubble".

So what should the victims do - my advice would be to report the abuse to the police in an effort to at least tell someone in authority what has been going on even though he is dead, and to sue for compensation even after all these years. This is what we do at Abney Garsden McDonald even though many years have passed, and often the abuser is dead. If enough victims come forward, a group action could easily be started. It appears that a special investigation has been set up at the BBC, which will make the victims feel that at least something is being done. The results, hopefully, will be publicised and transparency employed.

It is typical of the history of cover ups we have heard about over the years that this secret has remained unpublished for so many years. We have seen it in the Catholic Church, and now at the BBC.

It is not rocket science that if a grown adult is able to seek the confidence of a young child, and perform abusive acts upon him or her, then that same abuser is also able to keep the abusive act a secret for so long by threats, grooming, manipulation, and fear. It is typical of any abuse that the subterfuge employed by the abuser is sophisticated, and clever.

Abusers are not dirty old men with greasy hair, long raincoats, and an obviously weird nature. Sadly they appear as normal as you and me. They are usually charming, relaxed with children, and interested in childlike pursuits. This is how they get under the skin of the children they abuse, win their confidence with gifts, treats, and "something special". Jimmy Savile was a larger than life character, who dressed a bit like a clown, and would therefore have appealed to children, when he looned about, and acted daft.

He was so much in the public eye that many people had contact with him, and can bear testimony to his past. Many of them have already been interviewed - his chauffeur is one very good example.
  1. The BBC - it is now well documented that there were many rumours and allegations about Savile's conduct, and as such more should have been done years ago. They undoubtedly had a duty of care to those visiting the premises. For some of the time Savile may even have been a BBC employee. It appears that there was "constructive knowledge" of what was going on, and as such negligence.

  2. The estate of Jimmy Savile. Even though he has been dead for over a year, it is not too late to bring proceedings against his estate on behalf of the girls involved. The lawyers will shout "time delay" or "Limitation" as we lawyers call it, and there will be argument, but it is never too late.
  3. The school in Surrey - it appears that Savile is alleged to have abused girls whilst visiting a school in Surrey. If they were negligent in any way because they heard rumours and did nothing about it, then they could also be culpable. How well supervised were the girls when they went to the school? Were they allowed to be on their own with him? Was this the way in which a school with its responsibilities to young children should have cared for children?
Whether anything will come of these allegations remains to be seen. They should certainly seek advice, if nothing else.

There is no doubt from the reports I have read that the behaviour of Savile has affected the lives of these girls who are now women, and that they should be compensated for their losses. At the very least, they should be allowed to "speak their truth", and be heard.

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