The NHS has released the findings of its investigations into Jimmy Savile’s relationship with several hospitals and the accusations of abuse. Leeds General Infirmary has been the location of the most shocking incidents, which occurred from 1962 to 2009. Victims have reported abuses ranging from inappropriate comments to sexual assault and rape. Here are the five things you need to know about the latest Savile revelations:
1. Savile ‘interfered with the bodies of deceased patients’
Long-circulated rumours about Savile and necrophilia appear to have some credence, according to the Leeds report. It appears his unfettered access to the Leeds General Infirmary led to an interest in the mortuary which ‘was not within accepted boundaries’. One witness described his actions as ‘harrowing’.
The investigators heard ‘macabre accounts’ that he ‘interfered with the bodies of deceased patients’, but they were was unable fully ascertain the exact level of inappropriate access he had to the mortuary.
2. Savile made rings out of glass eyes from dead people
According to two witnesses at the LGI, Savile boasted of making rings from the from the glass eyes of dead bodies in the infirmary’s mortuary:
‘I looked at his hands and he had these gross, big silver rings with bulbous things and I sort of went, ‘Yes, mm,’ always be polite to your superstar, ‘Yes, Jim.’ And he said, ‘D’you know what they are? They are glass eyes from dead bodies in Leeds Mortuary where I work and I love working there, and I wheel the dead bodies around at night and I love that’.
‘I do remember seeing this ring he had on that looked like an eyeball and – and I must’ve mentioned it to him and he said ‘It’s made from the eyeball of a dead friend.’
3. Sixty people, of all ages, came forward with reports abuse
Savile’s behaviour at the LGI went on for nearly half a century, with the first case reported when he was 38 (in 1962) and the last in 2009 when he was 82. His victims ranged from a five years old to 75 year old. Nine of the victims who came forward were hospital staffers, the majority were teenagers. Most of the abuse reports suggest they took place in public areas of the hospital.
4. Organisational failures were partly to blame
The report blames the ‘lax’ control over access to the mortuary in the LGI for allowing someone ‘as manipulative as Savile to thrive and continue his abusive behaviour unchecked for years’. Staff in the hospital reported some of the incidents but they did not reach a senior management level. His behaviour dismissed by one nurse, who said ‘oh that’s Jimmy, that’s just his way’.
As you can see in this interview with Andrew Neil, Savile was adept at avoiding difficult questions. In this instance, he used a banana to avoid discussing his personal life.
5. Raising £3.5 million allowed him to get away with it
Savile began his relationship with the Leeds General Infirmary in the 1960s, after volunteering for the hospital’s radio station. Through his public persona, he raise significant sums for the hospital, leading to an official porter role and a set of keys to the building. Minutes from a meeting of the hospital’s board of governors in 1971 suggested they felt his appointment would ‘add dignity to the institution’ and ‘might improve security’.
In the House of Commons today, the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt gave the following statement:
‘Today I want to apologise on behalf of the Government and the NHS to all the victims who were abused by Savile in NHS-run institutions. We let them down badly and however long ago it may have been, many of them are still reliving the pain they went through.
‘If we cannot undo the past, I hope that honesty and transparency about what happened can at least alleviate some of the suffering. It’s the least we owe them.’