|Glitter and Savile
London, Oct. 28: Police investigating the Jimmy Savile sex allegations today arrested the former pop singer Gary Glitter at his home in London.
Savile, a flamboyant television entertainer who died last year, aged 84, was considered almost a British Godman because of the estimated £40m he raised for children’s charities.
But the saint has now been exposed as a sinner who abused underage girls. Their number is now put at 300 by police – and each day brings fresh allegations.
Garry Glitter, who already has a conviction for sex with underage girls, is something of an easy target for police who are now investigating claims that other prominent celebrities were also involved in the crimes against children. There is also the suggestion that people in authority knew what was going on but chose to ignore the mounting evidence of systematic abuse.
The scandal has sucked in the BBC because Savile was one of its main stars and apparently had sex with the girls in the dressing rooms that he was allocated. Sometimes, other stars were present and either joined in or laughed at Savile’s voracious appetite for young girls, it is alleged.
The crisis has deepened for the BBC because an investigation by the BBC’s Newsnight programme into Savile’s paedophilia was axed shortly before transmission of a separate television tribute to the life and times of Sir Jimmy Savile.
Scotland Yard today confirmed Garry Glitter’s arrest – Sky TV, which probably had been tipped off, was there to record the scene. It will be recalled that 68-year-old Garry Glitter, whose real name is Paul Gad, was jailed for four months in the UK in 1999 for downloading child porn. A court in Vietnam had found him guilty of committing obscene acts with minors in 2006.
A spokesman said: “Officers working on Operation Yewtree have today arrested a man in his 60s in connection with the investigation. The man, from London, was arrested at approximately 7.15am on suspicion of sexual offences, and has been taken into custody at a London police station. The individual falls under the strand of the investigation we have termed ‘Savile and others’.”
So who are the others?
The public relations supremo Max Clifford has got into the act by claiming that dozens of big name stars from the 1960s and ’70s have contacted him because they are terrified they will be implicated in the Savile sex scandal.
He, however, wanted to make a distinction between men who made it a point to prey on vulnerable girls and female fans who threw themselves at pop stars they worshipped.
Speaking on London’s LBC radio, Clifford said young pop stars at the time had gone from working in a factory one week to performing in front of thousands of people.
“All kinds of things went on and I do mean young girls throwing themselves at them in their dressing rooms at concert halls, at gigs, whatever,” he said. “They never asked for anybody’s birth certificate and they were young lads ... suddenly everyone’s dream was a reality.”
He added: “We are talking about a lot of people that were huge names in the ’60s and ’70s and a lot of them barely remember what they did last week, genuinely. For them to try and recount what happened in a dressing room in 1965 or 1968 or 1972, genuinely they are frightened to death.”
“I am hoping that the real predators are the ones we are going to find out about – the Glitters of this world, the Saviles of this world,” he said.
Savile’s sexual activities were interrupted on occasions but such was his power and influence that he always managed to get away.
He was born in Leeds on October 31, 1926, and rose to become the leading English disc jockey of his day, fronting such popular programmes as Top of the Pops. By the time he was found dead last year at his home in Leeds, he had established himself as a much loved personality in the eyes of the British public.
He wore colourful track suits, smoked expensive Cuban cigars and always drove a Rolls-Royce. His best known catchphrase was “Jim’ll fix it” because he enabled sick children to fulfil their dreams.
He would also say, “how’s about that, then?”, “now then, now then, now then”, “goodness gracious”, “as it ’appens” and “guys and gals”.
He came to be associated with Stoke Mandeville Hospital for the severely wounded and disabled and raised millions for its patients.
He remained a confirmed bachelor, lived with his mother whom he called “The Duchess”, preserved her bedroom and wardrobe in pristine condition after her death rather like the son in Hitchcock’s Psycho, and had all her clothes dry cleaned once a year.
Readers assumed he was joking when he wrote about members of the opposite sex in his autobiography that “there have been trains and, with apologies to the hit parade, boats and planes (I am a member of the 40,000 ft club) and bushes and fields, corridors, doorways, floors, chairs, slag heaps, desks and probably everything except the celebrated chandelier and ironing board.”
Margaret Thatcher adored Savile, called him “marvellous” and invited him to spend 11 consecutive family New Year eves at Chequers, the prime minister’s country residence.
Savile became Sir Jimmy Savile in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list in 1990. Not be to be outdone, Pope John Paul II made Savile, a Catholic, a Knight Commander of the Order of Saint Gregory the Great a few weeks later.
All this made Savile pretty much untouchable but he carried on touching pretty any young girl within reach, including, it would seem, his own niece.
When Savile died, he bid farewell in a satin lined gold coffin which was interred in thick concrete “as a security measure”. He was buried not far from his home and at 45 degrees so that he could “see the sea”.
Since the scandal broke, the headstone on his grave has been removed. So has a memorial plaque on the wall of his former home in Scarborough. A wooden statue of Savile in Glasgow has gone, too.
Many women, who were girls when abused by Savile, are now coming forward with their stories. In the 1970s at a children’s home in Leeds, he took a 12-year-old girl upstairs away from the others but was caught by an adult and ordered off the premises.
He had the run of the psychiatric hospital in Broadmoor where he ran a disco for “lasses” only. This gave him unlimited access to his victims. The hospital was so grateful for his interest that he was even given his own set of keys. Savile also maintained a mobile caravan where he entertained young girls.
The present crisis was provoked when ITV did the programme, featuring some of the women who felt betrayed by the BBC. They had gone through the traumatic experience of speaking to the BBC only to discover later that the investigation into Savile had been pulled.
Meanwhile the chairman of the BBC Trust, Lord Patten, has said he is dedicated to finding out the truth about the scandal that has engulfed the corporation, vowing there would be “no covering our backs”.
Speaking of the late TV presenter’s apparent decades of criminality, he wrote in the Mail on Sunday: “Can it really be the case that no one knew what he was doing? Did some turn a blind eye to criminality? Did some prefer not to follow up their suspicions because of this criminal's popularity and place in the schedules? Were reports of criminality put aside or buried? Even those of us who were not there at the time are inheritors of the shame.”
The BBC has said it is investigating nine allegations of “sexual harassment, assault or inappropriate conduct” among current staff and contributors.
Patten’s admission comes after director general George Entwistle was urged to “get a grip” on his organisation during a hostile grilling by MPs about the broadcaster’s handling of claims of sexual abuse by Savile over several decades.
Patten, who is also Chancellor of Oxford University, said the BBC’s reputation is on the line and that it has risked squandering the public’s trust.
He said the BBC would not hide behind smokescreens, but “must tell the truth and face up to the truth about itself, however terrible”.