Following the publication of the report into Operation Yewtree (here) ,there will no doubt be much pointing of fingers at a range of people and institutions, not least the BBC and the NHS, over the next few months. The fact that Jimmy Savile abused many of his victims whilst working for, and/or visiting many of these institutions is naturally both deplorable and shocking. The fact Savile remained free to do so over many years despite several police investigations is equally shocking.
But it must also be said that Savile was no ordinary abuser, not because of the scale of his assaults, nor the prolonged period of his offences, but because of the position he was allowed to continue to hold in our society. Savile was no ordinary abuser, because not only was he part of the public consciousness, but because he was also a friend and confidant to Royalty, Prime Ministers, leaders of the Church and just about every other institution that makes and shapes the society we've become.
Peter Spindler, leading the investigation, claimed that "Savile groomed a nation", but among the lurid and shocking headlines such as those in today's Express (here) lies something far more shocking and painful to acknowledge; the fact that a man of power and influence could abuse both children and adults for so long without a single other person of power and influence stepping forward and taking a stand.
For eleven years in a row, Savile spent Christmas with the Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher (here) .He was also a personal friend to Prince Charles, to the point where he offered guidance on his marriage to Diana (here). Did anyone, during the numerous background and security checks he must have had to become a Knight of the Realm, a Papal Knight and a member of Thatcher's government task-force at Broadmoor, uncover his abusive history, and if not, why not?
Did any newspaper, normally so quick to point the finger even at the innocent without the slightest shred of evidence, (here) take a stand and expose him? Or any politician, use parliamentary privilege, to name him for what he was? Or any single person, of equal power and influence, stand up, take their own reputation in their hands and expose him?
They didn't,. Instead, they turned their faces and helped him up the ladder of power to the point that only his death gave any chance of justice for his victims. Because Savile, like many other people in positions of power, was protected by the very self interest that pervades to this day.
The CPS (here) among others have, quite rightly, apologized to his victims for the failure to prosecute him. But the very people that could, and should have exposed him, remain silent. A silence that is all too deafening.