Huffpost UK uk
The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Ellen Grace Jones Headshot

'It Was Good While it Lasted'

Posted: Updated:
Print Article

...Read the chilling yet thankfully dismantled epitaph of Jimmy Savile which was hauled down in the dead of night from Woodlands Cemetery in Scarborough. "Out of respect to public opinion, to those who are buried there, and to those who tend their graves and visit there, we have decided to remove it," went the Savile family's statement.

Much like the gold plaque on Savile's Scarborough home (upon which someone boosted his CV by adding 'paedophile' and 'rapist' to career achievements of 'entertainer and philanthropist') the removal of his headstone is symbolic of the public mood and the appropriate gesture to fellow deceased in neighbouring plots. As the gravestone trundles to its new resting place - a nearby landfill - Scotland Yard is sifting through 120 potential leads.

Now whilst it's crucial the public and press don't descend further into a pitchfork rattling witch hunt smacking of Brass Eye's Paedogeddon, the pan-UK fury at such an emotive revelation is understandable. As more victims speak out it's becoming possible that Savile could have abused the lives of many young women, but also, if the allegations prove to be true, by-and-large abused the trust of a nation who enjoyed his programmes and sponsored his charity work. This national betrayal has only exacerbated the outcry and uproar. For all his shell-suited, cigar-puffing eccentricity, it turns out Savile could have been a deceptive, cunning, fraud.

Yet, what has been depressingly inexcusable and needs to be tackled head-on is the outrageous questioning of, "why cast aspersions against someone who cannot defend himself?" and "why didn't the women come forward before?" - suggesting they're somehow money-grabbing story sellers only coming to the press and police now. These are dangerous questions demonstrating a fundamental ignorance of both the bigger picture and past societal norms.

Let me answer them: as much as Sir Jimmy Savile is the chief protagonist in this tragedy, it does not begin and end with him. As more and more names are thrown into the mix, the entire BBC needs to be investigated and those potentially culpable brought to justice. How far down the rabbit hole does this allegedly vile behaviour go? Did Savile have accomplices? Were top brass complicit in covering up? Implying justice should not be pursued simply because one of the players is dead is myopic at best and an insult to the victims at worst.

As for women not coming forward before, how would one 14 year old schoolgirls' word stand against the saintly, philanthropic, powerful - and importantly - untouchable King of Entertainment? One with enough money and connections to silence any critics with a cursory flick of his jingle-jangled wrist.

Let's not pretend it wasn't a different time back then. From the recent testimony of DJ Liz Kershaw, Sandy Toksvig and Janet St Porter, gropings came with your morning coffee and sexist jibes were common place. Astonishingly, on Monday ex DJ Mike Smith dismissed this behaviour as "practical jokes" and "schoolboy joshing". Now whilst there's a marked difference between systematic, conscious grooming of underage girls and overzealous wandering DJ hands, what Smith laughs off confirms a blind acceptance of rotten behaviour endemic in the system.

Molestation ain't right, whatever the scale.

Thankfully, BBC Director General George Entwhistle announced an outside body will conduct an independent investigation on Monday's Radio 4 Today Programme. However, the BBC's heel-dragging, shelving of the Newsnight investigation and failure to explain why (despite widespread rumours) Savile's conscious exploitation of power was never halted only stokes mounting claims of an attempted cover-up.

The truth will generally always out and there's no denying the inevitability of Savile's abuse revealing itself posthumously. We were fooled. Behind the canonised, altruistic persona lay a devious, predatory opportunist. Despite the public wrath, a calm, legitimate, hysteria-free inquiry is necessary. Let's hope it will bring justice to those who deserve it.