Newcastle Journal, 19th February 2000
The Times, 28th February 2015
by Janice Turner
At Stoke Mandeville, the abuser was allowed to operate because of a toxic mix of his fundraising power and Tory policy
The Jimmy Savile hospital reports read like a grotesque trilogy. Leeds General is Savile Begins — the sly, young abuser honing his style and modus operandi: buy the porters a TV, flatter the top brass, brazen it out with nurses and the rest. Broadmoor is Savile Unbound — free to roam, keys jangling, inviting famous mates to gawp at women’s ward bath time, making playthings of the mad, the forgotten, the unloved.
But Stoke Mandeville is the most complex story. It is, of course, still about sexual abuse: the 60 reported victims, almost half of them children, the horror put in cool officialese that here his fondness for groping patients beneath bedclothes probably evaded detection “as paralysed individuals would not have felt anything below . . . their spinal lesion.” But this is also about how politics and money gave him absolute power. Savile, the King. And it was Margaret Thatcher who crowned him.
If “Name the NHS’s first public-private partnership” comes up in a pub quiz, here’s your answer. Although famously the birthplace of the Paralympic movement, Stoke Mandeville was a hospital village of wooden huts in rambling grounds when, in 1979, the roof of the acclaimed National Spinal Injuries Centre (NSIC) collapsed. Since the new Tory government was set on sweeping cuts, its future was grim.
Now Savile, already a prolific abuser in his guise of unpaid porter and resident celebrity, saw his chance. He offered to raise £10 million to rebuild the unit under his personal charitable trust. The Tories were excited by his financial model, saw this harnessing of private fund-raising as the NHS’s future. In a reckless act of political expediency they ceded this eccentric, with his sweaty nylon tracksuits and tendency to kiss right up women’s bare arms, total control. As Dr Androulla Johnstone’s report says, the same “it’s just Jimmy” exceptionalism that made people shrug off Savile’s bizarre acts also freed him from conventional restraints. Shackle this maverick with bureaucracy, civil servants feared, and he might “disengage”.
So Jimmy was free to choose the architect, select a more grandiose scheme, with a higher upkeep, than was required. But the government wasn’t concerned because Savile pledged also to fund the additional running costs. Millions were donated by a generous public. But how this was spent — ultimately whether Stoke Mandeville lived or died — was put solely in Jimmy Savile’s hands.
Since “his” charity had paid for it, he believed he owned the NSIC, could shape it to his whims. He insisted on thick lobby carpet though it was hell for wheelchair users, demanded pimp flourishes such as zebra-striped ward curtains, had hospital crews service his Rolls, the canteen named “Jimmy’s” and his own vast office have a gold letterbox and flip-down bed. “I’ll withdraw all the trust’s funds,” he threatened.
Once you understand that Savile was not merely a major donor or Mrs T’s well-connected New Year’s Eve party pal but a despot who could summon the hospital’s general manager to his office, making him wait while, feet on desk, he finished his call to the Duchess of York, his criminal impunity is not hard to fathom. Ministers did not know about Savile’s abuse — though were disgusted enough by his crudeness and promiscuity to withhold a knighthood, until Mrs Thatcher interceded — but placed him, as the report says, “outside the regulatory processes designed to prevent such abuses of power”.
But what does it mean to “know” anyway? Reading this report I am reminded of Gitta Sereny’s book about Hitler’s architect: “I think,” she quotes Albert Speer as saying, “that we saw only what we wanted to see and knew only what we wanted to know.” The Nazi wives who summered at the Obersalzberg with the Führer, whose husbands kissed them fresh from some Eastern Front atrocity or Final Solution conflab, did they “know”? Or did they merely not think too hard?
Certainly, on some level, the nurses knew: they detested Savile, fled when he passed by, told little girls to pretend to be asleep, sometimes physically kept him at bay. His bedroom was in the nurses’ quarters. A memo circulated warning new recruits to lock their doors. One occupational therapy tutor recalls tearful teenage students lingering in class on a Friday night because they couldn’t bear to face him. The tutor’s concerns to management were slapped down with a reprimand.
“Victim 21”, whose father made the only official complaint, was told by a Sister Cherry “that Savile would not do such a dreadful thing and that he raised a great deal of money for the hospital”. Spinal patients he abused kept silent for fear he’d kick them out of the NSIC, which was saving their lives.
And what of Savile’s secretary, Janet Cope? She is all over the Stoke Mandeville report: one victim claims she walked in on his abuse, another to have written her an unanswered letter. But after 32 years at his side, Mrs Cope says she saw, heard, knew nothing.
Savile’s abuse at Stoke Mandeville ended in 1992 around the time his absolute power was seized back by the newly created Buckinghamshire NHS hospital trust. Later, having raised money for the children’s ward, he demanded an access-all-areas swipe card as reward. It was denied. Next time the BBC or NHS are damned as dark enclaves of the Stalinist state, too huge and sclerotic to address his crimes, remember that at Stoke Mandeville Jimmy Savile was privatisation’s paedophile prince.
Unpublished letter to the editor of the Times, by Peter McKelvie:
Sunday People, 15th March 1981
News of the World, 2nd January 1983
News of the World, 28th December 2003
But the scheme could collapse if the government does not come up with the £10 million needed to fund it for the next three years.
Launched a week ago as part of Operation Pin, the NCS’s ground-breaking Virtual
Global Task Force targets online perverts using the bogus websites.
Instead of fuelling their sick fantasies, the perverts’ details are logged, so they can be traced. The initiative is being supported by the FBI, Australian Federal Police, Canadian Police and Interpol.
But a National Crime Squad source revealed last night: “This scheme was set up without any additional funding.
“We need around £10 million to keep it running for three years. If we don’t get it we’re in serious trouble.
“At the moment this scheme is operating on goodwill -everybody is working above and beyond what is required because we are committed to rescuing children.
“But we are pulled in so many directions it is incredibly difficult to juggle without more cash from the Government.”
Police gathered details of 7,200 internet perverts during Operation Ore, but cops hope this new scheme will flush out repeat offenders and those who have not been identified.
Assistant Chief Constable Jim Gamble from the National Crime Squad, who headed up Operation Ore in the UK, said: “We’ve created cyber cops who walk the beat online, tracking down everyone looking at child porn.
“There’s no excuse for anyone entering these sites. It creates demand for the material -and every image means a child is being abused.”
News of the World, 24th August 2003
BRITAIN’S top paedophile-busting police squad is to be broken up in a devastating secret reshuffle.
The shock move, uncovered by the News of the World, last night sparked outrage among worried child protection experts, politicians and top Home Office advisers.
Amazingly it comes in the week when the need for top-quality policing was dramatically highlighted by the dropping of a child porn case against Soham cop Brian Stevens, pictured right, after a series of Operation Ore investigation blunders.
All nine crack detectives in Scotland Yard’s elite paedophile unit-featured in award-winning BBC TV series The Hunt For Britain’s Paedophiles-have been told they will be moved to other duties by the end of the year.
This is despite having over 50 years’ vital experience in the squad between them AND a string of successes-including the high-profile Operation Doorknock raid on pervert Keith Romig’s east London house in 2000, led by Det Con Andy Murray, that led to the smashing of a vile abuse ring.
Operation Ore-processing thousands of leads from US internet porn sites-relies on the team’s long-term knowledge of faces and names to identify those posing the greatest threat.
Nevertheless the unit’s head, Det Chief Inspector Matt Sarti, called his men in last month and told them their posts would in future be filled on a three-year rota basis.
But after we blew the whistle Home Secretary David Blunkett was last night said to be “concerned” at the plan and vowed to raise it with Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir John Stevens. And Alisdair Gillespie, one of Mr Blunkett’s advisers on child protection, declared: “I know the Yard unit very well-they are the best of the best. The decision to break them up is absolutely ludicrous.”
Professor Gillespie, who is also a principal lecturer in law at Teesside University, added: “It takes a great deal of experience and skill to trap these paedophiles and ensure a conviction.
“These officers are so dedicated some are even doing masters degrees in the subject. It’s outrageous to allow them only a few years in the job-they’re taking away all the expertise in one go. And it will have an impact nationally because other forces look to them for advice. This link is essential to protect our children.”
One senior member of the Yard squad agreed: “Children are being put at risk by these changes. We can’t understand why it’s happening-they don’t rotate people in the Flying Squad.”
Tory MP Sir Paul Beresford-a leading activist on paedophile issues-slammed the Yard decision. “I’ll be raising this with the unit’s head and the minister involved,” he pledged.
“This job takes expertise that can’t be acquired in a few weeks.”
Last night retired Det Superintendent Mike Hames, the squad’s boss for five years, also called on the Met to change its mind.
“If you get rid of the best people in one go, everyone else will be floundering around,” he said.
And former Det Chief Inspector Bob McLachlan, who headed the unit from 1998 until retiring last year, insisted: “This is a scandal. Any change in the current set-up will put policing predatory paedophiles back 10 years.”
Originally posted on Bits of Books, Mostly Biographies:
Who was ‘John’, Albany Trust’s representative, on the Paedophile Drafting Committee?
Sir Harold Haywood, the Albany Trust and PIE: Some questions, few answers on ‘Paedophilia: Some Questions and Answers’?
BBC Radio 4 – Last Word- Obituary programme 17th June 2010
Known to many as simply ‘H’, Prince Charles’ trusted charity aide Sir Harold Haywood (1923 – 2010) first made headlines for his 1964 intervention on Brighton beach in the clash between mods and rockers[i]. He would later become known for giving Prince Charles an unannounced ‘plainclothes’ tour of charities dealing with runaways and homeless shelters in London’s redlight district of Soho in 1985. For almost twenty years he occupied one of the top positions at the National Association of Youth Clubs, first leading as Education and Training Director, and then Director of Youth Work…
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News of the World, 21st September 1975
See also The Playland Cover-Up