I will make this wager - if the BBC respond in the same way to Savile victims as they did to Lord McAlpine, I will run up and down Station Road in Cheadle Hulme naked. So if my bet is as safe as I think it is what will happen. I will tell you. A long turgid point scoring war of legal attrition with the BBC point scoring to try and wear the victims down to such a state after a long drawn out battle that they will accept a tiny morsel, so fed up are they of the process, that they just want to turn their back on the whole sordid affair.
How do I know this? Because I have been fighting with Defendant Lawyers in Child Abuse cases for the last 18 years. Granted, they do vary in their approach to the subject matter. If I was being cynical, I would say that they don't make money out of settling early or not taking points of law to appeal in a effort to "clarify a novel point".
A mere handful adopt the moral high ground and consider that a settlement early will save the victim trauma. Lawyers, however only act on instructions from their clients who are usually insurers, whose only concern is to save themselves money. Whilst they won't waste money on a novel risky point, their moral scruples are very low on the list of concerns.
So what points will the BBC fight with?
- The case is out of time - strictly speaking the victims should have gone to court within 3 years of the incident.
- Savile is dead and cannot defend himself.
- Savile was not an employee of the BBC, but a self employed agent, so they are not responsible for his actions.
- The girls consented and were not assaulted, particularly if they were over 15, which I think was the age of consent at the time. You remember the joke "Is she legal?" that he used to crack to the hilarity of all listeners?
- The Claimants are jumping on the bandwagon, which is something which should be stopped.
- Documents have been destroyed and witnesses memories have faded with time.
A no fault compensation scheme whereby the victims can process their claims without having to go to court using a valuation matrix. It would be a government run scheme set up with buy in and contribution from the BBC and any other potential Defendant - currently the NHS (Leeds General Infirmary), Stoke Mandeville Hospital, Broadmoor, the BBC, and maybe others - various children's homes he visited.
The government should also set up a Commission of Inquiry at which the victims can attend and give their evidence with appropriate anonymity safeguards.
There is precedent for the above. The Irish Government set up similar systems from around 2002 to 2005 in order to cope with the huge abuse problem which had prevailed in its institutions and schools under the watchful eye of the Catholic Church. I describe it in my Irish Survivors site . The Irish Residential Institutions Redress Board has its own site as does the Irish Commission of Enquiry.
Will this happen? Will the government do the right thing for the victims? Well, if someone else will pay for it they would, but in an age of austerity, I doubt it. The finger is pointing clearly at government who are strapped for cash.
Only if MP's, who are found involved in paedophile rings, when the police investigations are done, cause fundamental embarrassment which shakes the foundations of government, will it ever happen? I hope I am proved wrong......I doubt it.........