Celebrity status helped Savile evade scrutinyhttps://indianexpress.com/article/news-archive/web/celebrity-status-helped-savile-evade-scrutiny/

Celebrity status helped Savile evade scrutiny

Three years before Jimmy Savile,one of Britain’s most popular television hosts,came under public suspicion as a prolific paedophile

JOHN F BURNS & RAVI SOMAIYA

Three years before Jimmy Savile,one of Britain’s most popular television hosts,came under public suspicion as a prolific paedophile,the police dispatched to prosecutors a thick investigation file by secure e-mail and courier van detailing four allegations of sexual abuse against him.

The confidential file,compiled from 2007 to 2009,contained witness statements and “significant and solid evidence,” according to a former senior officer with the Surrey Police,a force outside London that conducted a two-year investigation into Savile. Recently,amid allegations by hundreds of women and at least two men that Savile used his fame and influence as a shield to abuse them as children,Britain’s Crown Prosecution Service said in a statement that the case was dropped because a crucial witness declined to testify and because there was “insufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction.”

But at the Surrey Police headquarters,the former senior officer said,those who investigated the case felt that prosecutors were hesitant to confront a man who had spent decades building a cult of celebrity in Britain that few could match.

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“Really,it came down to this: do we really want to take on this man,Saint Jimmy,who does all of this fund-raising and knows all of these people?” the officer said.

Despite widespread suspicion about Savile’s behavior over decades,and Savile’s acknowledgment in his autobiography that he had a predilection for young girls,the prosecution that was halted in 2009 was one of a number of missteps and missed signals that allowed Savile to escape legal scrutiny for most of his career,according to accounts from police officers,victims and those who knew and worked with him.

Cops release 2nd suspect

LONDON: The second suspect arrested in the investigation of alleged child sex abuse by the late BBC entertainer Jimmy Savile and others has been released on bail.

Police said the suspect was released Friday. They would not confirm widespread British media reports that the suspect is the comedian Freddie Starr. Starr has denied involvement in sexual abuse. He has been accused by a woman who has also publicly claimed that she was abused by Savile. AP