Moment that mattered: ITV documentary ‘Exposure: The Other Side of Jimmy Savile’ airs
“The most significant moment wasn’t the actual broadcast itself – it was the Sunday before. For the very first time Jimmy Savile’s crimes, which I’d spent a year investigating, were the lead story in the national press. That was when the enormity of it hit me.
There was a lot of pressure on all of us. It’s easy to forget now, but the support for Savile in the early stages was really significant. People were angry: ‘Why are you doing this programme? This man is dead, he’s not here to defend himself.’ I felt under a storm cloud.
Producer Lesley Gardiner and I had to keep the investigation quiet in the early days, but when we started to look at it we could see quite quickly that Savile was probably a prolific offender. Obviously his status meant it was always going to be difficult to address these issues, but we believed in what we
By the night of the broadcast you could feel the tide had turned, the papers had found more victims and people’s anger was turning towards Savile. The only time I became really frustrated was the period when the angle changed to being about the BBC. For me the exposé was never about the BBC, it was about Savile and it was annoying to see that being lost.
This concept of ‘lessons to be learned’ is just a phrase that we throw around – we’re not actually learning lessons. The 2009 police investigations, the mistakes that were made then, are mistakes that emanated from the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. Public prosecutors should have got him while he was alive; the police investigation should have been more thorough. The police enquiry in 2009 was conducted so narrowly, it failed to interview any members of staff or follow up on any evidence that Savile gave them during his formal interview under caution – and by keeping it so tight it strangled itself. I hope that the legacy of the programme will be that we start to hold people in public roles accountable: I want to make sure that those who have previously made serious errors are held to account and are not still working in the field of child protection. They are the ones given the job of safeguarding children and if they’re not up to it then let’s get rid of them.
Savile was a calculated, devious, cunning individual, but so are all child sex offenders. He had nothing unique in terms of the way that he operated, he just had greater advantages than many because he had unlimited access to children. But so do other potential offenders – the paedophile that sits on a park bench in a dirty old mac is not the paedophile that operates in today’s society.
My overwhelming feeling three months after the broadcast is of being drained. People described some truly horrific abuse to us. For me it really came home one Friday evening when I interviewed two women who told me how Savile had raped them and been very physically violent. That was the point when I realised quite how nasty a character he was.
I’ve been in this field for a very long time, but every single time I hear about child abuse it upsets me. The moment that I stop being upset about it will be the moment I walk away – it’s what drives me to be passionate about tackling these offenders and getting to a position where they are held accountable, whoever they are. But if you take this home with you every night, you just become a wreck.”
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