Savile victims were ‘laughed at’, UK inquiry finds

LONDON - British authorities "laughed at" victims of paedophile broadcaster Jimmy Savile when they revealed at the time that he had sexually abused them, a report by a charity said Monday.

The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) said some victims were told they were lucky to get attention from the star BBC television and radio presenter.

A police investigation concluded last year that Savile, who died in 2011 aged 84, was a prolific, predatory sex offender who abused children as young as eight over more than 50 years, often in institutions such as schools and hospitals.

The NSPCC report, titled "Would They Actually Have Believed Me?", interviewed 26 Savile victims. Some told hospital staff about the abuse, who dismissed their claims, while one went to the police, who took no action.

"The responses these victims received when they first revealed Savile's sickening crimes makes heart-rending reading," said Peter Watt, the NSPCC's director of national services.

"They were ignored, dismissed, not believed, laughed at and, astonishingly, told in some cases they should feel lucky he had paid them attention." Watt said the victims had shown "true courage" in eventually coming forward to repeat their allegations, despite suffering lasting damage to their lives.

They reported "largely positive" responses from police when they spoke to officers from Operation Yewtree, the abuse inquiry set up by Scotland Yard into Savile and other alleged sex offenders in the entertainment world.

The police investigation identified 450 victims but an internal BBC inquiry leaked in January suggests up to 1,000 people were abused by Savile while he was working for the broadcaster.

Lawyers fighting for compensation for dozens of alleged Savile victims were at the High Court in London on Monday for a hearing relating to money left in the star's will.

Savile was one of the biggest TV stars in Britain in the 1970s and 1980s, and used his fame as a presenter of the BBC chart show "Top of the Pops" and children's programme "Jim'll Fix It" to rape and assault his victims.

The Savile revelations sparked a crisis at the BBC over how he was able to carry out such attacks and about the corporation's failure to report the claims against him when they were first raised in the weeks after his death.

The health ministry is also investigating alleged abuse of patients at state-run hospitals, while the police report last year found that officers had failed to follow up evidence against Savile dating back as far as 1964.