Janet Smith’s review: paedophile star may not have been acting alone at broadcaster
Retired judge Dame Janet Smith warns that another predatory child abuser could be lurking undiscovered in the BBC today.
The stark warning is made by the retired judge in an afterword to the draft of her inquiry report leaked to Exaro and which condemns BBC culture over the paedophile activities of one of its biggest stars, the late Sir Jimmy Savile.
In the afterword, Smith writes: “Finally, I wish to consider whether it is possible that a predatory child abuser could be lurking undiscovered in the BBC even today.
“We need them [young victims] to complain straight away before the abuser has had the chance to abuse again and again”
– Dame Janet Smith, review report
“The answer is that I think it is possible.”
She gave the examples of two other VIP paedophiles who were star presenters at the BBC: Stuart Hall and Rolf Harris.
The BBC expanded Smith’s “review” in 2013 to examine the Hall case, which is being carried out by Dame Linda Dobbs, a former High Court judge. The Dobbs report is due to be incorporated into the Smith review.
Hall was convicted in 2013 of indecently assaulting 13 girls. In 2014, he was convicted of a further two sexual assaults of another girl.
Smith continues in her afterword: “It must be recognised that child sex abusers can be highly intelligent, articulate and charismatic but manipulative people. Stuart Hall is an example. So it seems is Rolf Harris. Savile was intelligent, charismatic and extremely manipulative if not always very articulate.
“Coupled with celebrity, the power of which shows no sign of diminishing in our society, those features make a powerful combination, which makes detection difficult. Until a complaint is made such people are likely to enjoy the confidence and approval of all those around them.”
She calls for the creation of a climate to encourage young people who are abused to come forward immediately.
She says: “We must do everything that we can to ensure that young victims have the confidence to complain at the time (or soon after) they are abused and the confidence to face the criminal-justice system.
“It is clear that the Savile revelations have encouraged people (now adult) who have been abused in the past to come forward to give their accounts. We need now to ensure that that message is passed to the younger generation.
“We need them to complain straight away before the abuser has had the chance to abuse again and again. We also need to ensure that the criminal-justice system treats them appropriately so that the fear of giving evidence may be allayed.”
Earlier in the report, Smith says that one reason why teenagers did not report being attacked by Savile was a fear that they would not be believed.
In the concluding chapter of her report, Smith also considers whether there was a “sex ring” or a “paedophile ring” at the BBC.
She writes: “The answer is that I am not sure, as I am not sure what constitutes a ‘ring’. There are two items of evidence that suggest that Savile was not always acting alone.
“One such item comes from [name redacted by Exaro] who was brought to the BBC on many occasions in 1977/78 when she was about nine years old by a man named Sillitoe and was taken round to various men who would abuse her digitally. Savile was one of them. Further investigation of Sillitoe’s activities would, I think, have been very difficult as he left the BBC in 1978 and is now dead.
“The other item comes from [name redacted by Exaro] who was taken by Savile from the set of Jim’ll Fix It to a dressing room where he was abused. A second man (unidentified) came into the room and joined in the abuse. Savile appeared to know him and evinced no surprise when he arrived.”
She adds: “There is some evidence that one of Savile’s friends (unrelated to the BBC) may have assisted him in securing young people for him to abuse and also in ensuring that this conduct would not be discovered.”
Earlier in the report, Smith says: “I had the impression that any concern about good taste and ‘respectability’ tended to arise in the context of potential damage to the BBC’s reputation rather than as a matter of principle.”
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