Exaro News Archive

Janet Smith’s review: chapter 4 on society’s lack of alarm

Key extracts: The Guardian called BBC star’s ‘deeply unattractive’ book ‘very funny’

By David Hencke, Alex Varley-Winter and Mark Watts | 20 January 2016

Society’s attitudes are questioned in Dame Janet Smith’s inquiry into the predatory sexual behaviour of BBC star Sir Jimmy Savile at the broadcaster.

The retired judge addresses social attitudes and sexual mores in the draft report of Smith’s “review” of the late Savile’s sexual attacks at the BBC, which has been leaked to Exaro, saying that they helped him abuse freely.

She writes: “An interesting insight into public attitudes towards the sexual behaviour of celebrities can be gathered from considering the public reaction, or lack of it, towards Savile’s own writings about his sex life.”

“I find it surprising that ‘the Great British public’ continued to love him until his death” – Dame Janet Smith, review report

She cites his autobiography, ‘As It Happens’, published in 1974, saying: “He made it plain that he liked to have sex with lots of girls, not saying, of course, how old they were, but calling them ‘dolly birds’ all the same. He said a number of other deeply unattractive things about himself, not related to sex. The public reaction appears to have done him no harm.

“The Guardian published a review describing the book as ‘very funny’ and making no adverse comment at all.”

“His later book, ‘God’ll Fix It’,” she adds, “appears to have largely gone unnoticed.”

In the book, Savile imagines a conversation with St Peter, who says to him: “You shouldn’t have lived like that, but you were driven by that machine of your body that caused you to do these things.”

In this fourth of five packages of pieces, Exaro reports on how Smith’s report takes a swipe at Lady Thatcher for persisting as prime minister in recommending a knighthood for Savile despite long-running objections from officials.

Click on the link below to download a PDF of fuller extracts from this chapter of Smith’s draft report.

The honours committee initially advised against the knighthood because of “lurid details” about him as revealed in an interview that he gave to The Sun in 1983, she says. Senior management at the BBC was oblivious to the damning articles about Savile in The Sun.

Smith writes: “Savile appears to have co-operated in the production of these pieces and did not deny their essential accuracy, when asked about them later. Nor does it appear that he sued for defamation.

“In one of these articles, he boasts about how many girls he has sex with on a casual basis, and stresses that the girls have to do all the running; he gives them his telephone number and the rest is up to them. It seems to me that Savile was confident that these articles would not damage his public reputation.

“In general, he seems to have been right in that respect.”

The public was not alarmed by what she describes as “confessions” made by Savile in the series of articles based on an interview with him.

The articles delayed his knighthood, she says, but did not stop it ultimately. And his knighthood in 1990 was widely greeted with approval, she says.

If BBC management missed the prolific sexual attacker in its midst, so did society at large.

Smith also points to a programme about Savile, presented by Louis Theroux, on the BBC in 2000. It was called, ‘When Louis Met… Jimmy’. She says that it showed Savile as “deeply unattractive”.

She writes: “Just taking this material at face value, I find it surprising that ‘the Great British public’ continued to love him until his death. Were the values in society so different from those of today? Maybe people thought he was only joking.”

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By Exaro News

Exaro News investigates matters of public interest and seeks to uncover the truth.