Why weren't the police this zealous with Savile
14:50 GMT, 10 December 2012
The ancient practice of hue and cry — when a suspected criminal was pursued by a mob of angry citizens, shouting to raise the alarm — is famously celebrated in Charles Dickens’s Oliver Twist, in which Bill Sikes is chased to his death after murdering his girlfriend, Nancy.
Now it has been revived by Operation Yewtree, the police investigation which followed the late disc jockey Jimmy Savile’s exposure as an alleged paedophile.
We are told that 25 showbiz types — mainly TV and radio entertainers — have since been named in tips-offs to the police team. Five have been arrested and questioned: Gary Glitter, 68, Freddie Starr, 69, Dave Lee Travis, 67, BBC producer Wilfred De’ath, 75, and Max Clifford, 69. There’s also a ‘famous entertainer who has been questioned under caution and is co-operating with the police’.
Operation Yewtree: The police investigation which has followed the late Jimmy Savile's exposure as an alleged paedophile
Former It’s A Knockout presenter Stuart Hall, 82, has also been arrested in relation to historic allegations of indecent assault but is not linked to Operation Yewtree.
There’s huge publicity over the arrests, with TV cameras outside their celeb houses — a ‘3 million home’ in the case of Clifford. Reporters briefed by the police. The result More tip-offs about sexual misbehaviour, most of it ‘historic’ (it happened 20, 30 or sometimes 40 years ago).
Mark Williams-Thomas, the former policeman behind ITV’s Savile documentary, opines: ‘I opened the can, didn’t I The beast is out.’
He says the Metropolitan Police are looking at allegations from 450 possible victims, ‘with still more coming in…’
Before his police interview, Max Clifford told the TV show Daybreak that at least 15 big-name stars from the Sixties and Seventies had contacted him because they’d lived a hedonistic lifestyle and feared being accused of sexual misconduct then.
‘It is a situation which could easily turn into a witch-hunt. A lot of big stars are frightened. Where is it going to end I hope they [the police] concentrate on finding people like Jimmy Savile who were manipulating girls.’
Max Clifford told the TV show Daybreak that at least 15 big-name stars from the Sixties and Seventies had contacted him because they feared being accused of sexual misconduct
Former It's A Knockout presenter Stuart Hall, 82, has also been arrested in relation to historic allegations of indecent assault but is not linked to Operation Yewtree
There was no doubt about the guilt of the fictional Bill Sikes. The hue and cry that followed him seems an entirely appropriate way for aggrieved citizens to assist the police in securing his capture.
But the Yewtree investigation makes me feel queasy. The sexual abuse of underage girls should never be ignored, even if it did occur in the Seventies, but the police enthusiasm for pursuing it now is suspicious.
Is it over-compensation for failing over the course of 40 years to prosecute Savile There were plenty of opportunities. But some bobbies were social pals of the DJ, invited to his Leeds home to bask in his sleazy fame. Might it also have something to do with the fact that quizzing elderly celebrities about past, alleged sexual misbehaviour is a lot more congenial than cornering armed thugs in back alleys, or working out how best to prosecute the clever, lawyered-up fraudsters who infest our day-to-day life
Questions: How could successive director-generals of the BBC have failed to hear that Savile was taking advantage of star-struck young girls
The police have far more serious questions to answer than the tired old celebs the Yewtree team now pursue. Why was Savile so difficult to investigate Were they frightened off by his friendship with the Prince of Wales, or his Christmases with Margaret Thatcher
How could successive director-generals of the BBC have failed to hear that Savile was taking advantage of star-struck young girls on Corporation premises, sometimes assisted by other, sleazy showbiz types
Maybe they did hear about it, but were frightened to act in case they were held responsible for Savile’s actions — as they should have been. And what about those in charge of Broadmoor, and Stoke Mandeville, who somehow didn’t know he was abusing patients Why haven’t Yewtree officers collected them for questioning, along with the ministers who knew Savile had been given executive authority at Broadmoor
It’s hard to avoid the suspicion that Yewtree is a massive public relations stunt, designed to suggest Her Majesty’s Constabulary is a caring, sensitive, fit-for-purpose public institution of today, determined to erase the errors of the past.
But putting the frighteners on ageing celebs, accusing them of taking advantage of adoring fans, doesn’t begin to expose, far less prosecute, those responsible for ignoring a scandal taking place before their eyes.
Literally, in one case, when — captured by a Top Of The Pops camera — a young woman struggled to escape Savile’s lecherous embrace.
Terry's unquenched thirst for danger
Terry Waite was held hostage in Beirut by Arab militants 25 years ago
Famous for being held hostage in Beirut by Arab militants 25 years ago, Terry Waite, now 73, returns to meet Hezbollah, who kept him chained to a radiator 23 hours a day for much of his 1,763 days in captivity. Why so
'I want to see what can be written to help explain the situation of this country,’ he tells the Sunday Telegraph minder who accompanied him. ‘As far as the past goes, I hold no grudges… I come in the spirit of open friendship.’
Waite was acting as an envoy of the then Archbishop of Canterbury when he was bundled into the boot of a car in 1987 while trying to negotiate the release of John McCarthy and other Western hostages.
Despite being promised a safe conduct, he must have known there was a good chance of his being seized, adding to UK diplomatic problems. Nor was it clear to me then — or now — why the Archbishop should have such an envoy. (He didn’t before, or since.)
Waite said he put himself in harm’s way to try to get others released, and to understand the pressures that caused militant groups to seize hostages.
But I suspect another motive was a thirst for excitement, and for being at the centre of events. He’s still got it, it seems.
Spice-Girl-in-chief Geri Halliwell appeared on the BBC breakfast show plugging the new musical — Viva Forever!, opening tonight — inspired by the long undead zombie pop troupe. She informed her perky, Lowland Scots host Andrew Marr: ‘The term girl power has existed since time began, whether it’s Elizabeth I or the Suffragettes… We became our own entity, our own selves, and we took on our own life force.’ Then she cut straight to the commerce, offering the ogling, winking Marr freebie tickets. Don’t let the ginger siren turn your head, laddie!
We’re told Labour leader Ed Miliband ‘would come down very hard on people who milk the [welfare] system, but… will not confuse them with the vast majority of people — most of them in work — who are really striving, trying to pay the bills and put food on the table’.
How would he come down very hard on the cheats Miliband doesn’t say, focusing on the ‘strivers’ putting food on their tables, not the ‘skivers’ mentioned by Chancellor George Osborne. Labour didn’t do it in Government, preferring to advertise ‘crackdowns’ on TV rather than do anything serious to bring the problem to an end.
The question is: do those who see themselves as striving to put food on their tables now outnumber those who think cheats are a small minority I think the answer is yes.
Popular: Pippa Middleton continues to be in demand as a wedding guest
Pippa Middleton continues to be in demand as a wedding guest. Here she is at nuptials in Northern Ireland over the weekend. Isn’t she gorgeous So far, the family hasn’t responded to my suggestion that they become international wedding organisers, but I am hopeful. They nailed it with Kate. Why rest on their laurels
Sick joke to play on a hospital
Disc jockey Steve Penk, who once got through to Prime Minister Tony Blair as a telephone prank, says the death of a nurse who connected Australian hoaxers with the Duchess of Cambridge’s hospital ward might mean ‘for want of a better phrase, the death of the wind-up phone call’.
He adds: ‘Ofcom [the media regulator] will wrap it in so much red tape as to make it almost impossible to get these things on the air, which I think is a shame because they can be entertaining.’
I’ve never known anything described as a ‘wind-up’ to be funny. Neither do I have any confidence that anyone who uses the expression has a sense of humour.
The Australian stunt was never funny. What is funny is the claim by their employers that the guilty, now-snivelling presenters are receiving psychological counselling in case they harm themselves.
Surely you don’t make ‘wind-up’ calls to a hospital, deceiving staff who are caring for ill people. You don’t need Ofcom to tell you that.
Astonishingly, the stunt was recorded, not spontaneous. The station’s management — including, presumably, their lawyers — agreed that it should be broadcast.
How crass. Some Australians feel they’re being demonised by the UK media. Imagining that they are victims offsets their embarrassment, perhaps.
Six QCs who each received more than 500,000 of public money defending alleged criminals are named.
You’d think being a Queen’s Counsel might moderate their demands. Isn’t it an affront to Her Majesty But I haven’t met a QC who doesn’t complain that Legal Aid moolah is drying up.
Ministers are said to be dismayed by the ease with which rich, alleged crooks can claim Legal Aid by saying their assets have been frozen, or they’re bankrupt.
Former Polly Peck swindler Asil Nadir’s legal team got 5 million-worth this year, prior to his conviction. He said he was bankrupt, yet was able to rent a London roost for 23,000 a month.
Justice Minister Chris Grayling says it’s important to crack down on abuses of the system. Otherwise it might ‘undermine the credibility of the whole legal system in the eyes of the public’.
I am afraid it’s far too late to prevent that. Most of us think it’s run by lawyers for lawyers, with minimal interference by Government. That’s why they cling to their wigs, gowns and other ancient practices, such as calling judges M’lud. Take the flummery away and we might see them for what they are.