27/10/2012 13:48 BST | Updated 29/10/2012 13:59 GMT

Jimmy Savile Sex Abuse: Family Reveals Reason For Breaking Up Late TV Presenter's Gravestone

Jimmy Savile's closest relatives spoke for the first time on Saturday, explaining their reasons for having the late TV presenter's gravestone removed and broken up.


Savile's headstone was removed just weeks after it was put in place

Breaking their silence, a family statement released by Savile's nephew, Roger Foster, said: "We became more aware of the outrage that many members of the public were feeling. We took the decision to remove and destroy the headstone so that it couldn't become a focus for malicious people."

"The decision was a difficult one to make, but we knew it was the right one."

The statement, released to the Yorkshire Evening Post newspaper, spoke of the family's "own despair", adding that their "sadness does not compare to that felt by the victims" who were abused by the late TV presenter.

"How could the person we thought we knew and loved do such a thing?" the statement read.

"Why would a man who raised so much money for charity, who gave so much of his own time and energy for others, risk it all doing indecent criminal acts? How could anyone live their life doing the 'most good and most evil' at the same time?"

They family said their "thoughts" and "prayers" were with those who had suffered abuse.

"We recognise that even our own despair and sadness does not compare to that felt by the victims," they said. They said their "feelings are in turmoil" as they await the next turn of events.

Foster continued: "Like everyone else we asked the question: why now? We couldn't find an answer."

Foster said the family could understand the victims' "reluctance to say anything earlier" and said the family could "appreciate the courage it has taken to speak out now".

The family spoke out as it emerged that the head of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales has written to Rome to ask if the Vatican could investigate whether the Papal Honour awarded to Jimmy Savile for his charitable works could be posthumously removed and its effects nullified.

Savile was made a Knight Commander of St Gregory the Great by Pope John Paul II in 1990.

A spokesman for the Archbishop of Westminster, the Most Reverend Vincent Nichols, said last week's letter was written in response to "the deep distress of all those who have suffered abuse" and "the disquiet at Savile's name remaining on Papal Honours lists".

The spokesman said there was no official process to remove Papal knighthoods and no "deadline" for Rome to reply to the archbishop.

"It is understood that knighthoods fall when the person dies, but this letter is a request to see if there is anything that can be done," he said.

Yesterday PR guru Max Clifford claimed dozens of big name stars from the 1960s and 70s have contacted him because they are "frightened" they will become implicated in the widening child abuse scandal.


Savile's cottage in Allt na Reigh in Glencoe

He said the stars were worried because at their peak they had lived a hedonistic lifestyle where young girls threw themselves at them but they "never asked for anybody's birth certificate".

Scotland Yard is leading the current investigation into accusations of abuse by former BBC DJ and presenter Savile, which now involve around 300 potential victims.

Officers have searched a cottage belonging to Savile in Allt na Reigh in Glencoe, Scotland, to look for "any evidence of any others being involved in any offending with him".

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 "and girls are screaming and throwing themselves at them then".

"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.

max clifford

Clifford: 'We are talking about a lot of people that were huge names in the 60s and 70s'

"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."

Seven alleged victims of Savile made complaints to four separate police forces - Surrey, London, Sussex and Jersey, while the disgraced television presenter was alive but it was decided that no further action should be taken.

Peter Watt, director of the the NSPCC helpline, said today of the Savile case: "The NSPCC helpline has never dealt with so many allegations against one individual."

Calls about Savile were "still coming in thick and fast and show little sign of slowing down", he added.

Since the allegations about Savile emerged, the children's charity said, it had received 190 calls directly relating to him, which have been passed to police.