‘We colluded with Jimmy Savile as a child abuser’: Esther Rantzen sensationally claims people in TV ‘blocked our ears’ to rumours
Esther Rantzen has told how some in broadcasting ‘blocked our ears’ to claims about Jimmy Savile made during his career.
In an emotional interview after viewing the ITV documentary, the broadcaster and Childline founder told The Mail on Sunday: ‘I feel that we in television, in his world, in some way colluded with him as a child abuser – because I now believe that’s what he was. We all blocked our ears. There was gossip, there were rumours.
‘It’s very distressing. We made him into the Jimmy Savile who was untouchable, who nobody could criticise. He was a sort of god-like figure. Everybody knew of the good that Jimmy did and what he did for children. And these children were powerless.
A BBC spokesman said it had found no record of ‘misconduct or allegations of misconduct’ by Savile during his time at the BBC.
The explosive 55-minute ITV documentary titled In Exposure: The Other Side Of Jimmy Savile will be screened on Wednesday.
The four women featured, now all middle-aged, offer compelling accounts of how they were groomed by Savile for sex when they were teenagers.The documentary also features damning contributions from former BBC production staff who reveal that the star’s predatory behaviour with girls as young as 12 was an open secret. And a child protection expert who investigated the claims for ITV tells the programme he is convinced Savile, who died last year, would face arrest if still alive.
Singer Coleen Nolan, who does not appear in the ITV programme, revealed four years ago that she was horrified when Savile intimately cuddled her in 1979 on Top Of The Pops when she was 14. She said: ‘He was all over me. I could see my sisters glaring, “You touch her and we’ ll kill you!” – and they would have done.’
Mark Williams-Thomas, who for 12 years was a detective and child protection officer, spent a year talking to Savile’s former victims.
He told The Mail on Sunday: ‘They were in awe of an individual who could give them a great number of benefits, and so the abuse could go on and on unchecked.
‘The women thought no one would believe them then, and even now they are terrified of the potential backlash from his fans and from his estate. But I have no doubt that on the evidence I have gathered, if Savile was still alive I would be banging on his door to get him nicked.’
Mr Williams-Thomas was a child protection officer with Surrey Police and worked on the prosecution of pop impresario Jonathan King on charges of sex with underage boys.
Since leaving the police, he has become a consultant on child protection and fronted the ITV documentary To Catch A Paedophile.
He said: ‘Early last year I was asked by a contact if I was aware of allegations that had circulated for years about Savile and young girls and if I knew of an investigation into a complaint made to Surrey police in 2007.
‘When Savile died, I began an investigation and was put in contact with several women who alleged they had been abused by him.’
The shocking conclusion of his investigation is that Savile, who was the face of Top Of The Pops for three decades as well as Jim’ll Fix It, groomed girls as young as 12 for sex.
Savile’s victims tell strikingly similar stories in the documentary, which is to be screened at 11pm – two hours after the watershed.
Until his death at 84, Savile was seen as an outlandish but avuncular star who loved tracksuits and ostentatious jewellery. But despite his tireless charity work, he never escaped dark rumours about his lifestyle. The ITV investigation makes concrete allegations for the first time.