Coffee House

Five things you need to know about the NHS’s Jimmy Savile report

26 June 2014

The NHS has released the findings of its investigations into Jimmy Savile’s relationship with several hospitals and the accusations of abuse. Leeds General Infirmary has been the location of the most shocking incidents, which occurred from 1962 to 2009. Victims have reported abuses ranging from inappropriate comments to sexual assault and rape. Here are the five things you need to know about the latest Savile revelations:

1. Savile ‘interfered with the bodies of deceased patients’

Long-circulated rumours about Savile and necrophilia appear to have some credence, according to the Leeds report. It appears his unfettered access to the Leeds General Infirmary led to an interest in the mortuary which  ‘was not within accepted boundaries’. One witness described his actions as ‘harrowing’.

The investigators heard ‘macabre accounts’ that he ‘interfered with the bodies of deceased patients’, but they were was unable fully ascertain the exact level of inappropriate access he had to the mortuary.

2. Savile made rings out of glass eyes from dead people


According to two witnesses at the LGI, Savile boasted of making rings from the from the glass eyes of dead bodies in the infirmary’s mortuary:

‘I looked at his hands and he had these gross, big silver rings with bulbous things and I sort of went, ‘Yes, mm,’ always be polite to your superstar, ‘Yes, Jim.’ And he said, ‘D’you know what they are? They are glass eyes from dead bodies in Leeds Mortuary where I work and I love working there, and I wheel the dead bodies around at night and I love that’.

‘I do remember seeing this ring he had on that looked like an eyeball and – and I must’ve mentioned it to him and he said ‘It’s made from the eyeball of a dead friend.’

3. Sixty people, of all ages, came forward with reports abuse

Savile’s behaviour at the LGI went on for nearly half a century, with the first case reported when he was 38 (in 1962) and the last in 2009 when he was 82. His victims ranged from a five years old to 75 year old. Nine of the victims who came forward were hospital staffers, the majority were teenagers. Most of the  abuse reports suggest they took place in public areas of the hospital.

4. Organisational failures were partly to blame

The report blames the ‘lax’ control over access to the mortuary in the LGI for allowing someone ‘as manipulative as Savile to thrive and continue his abusive behaviour unchecked for years’. Staff in the hospital reported some of the incidents but they did not reach a senior management level. His behaviour dismissed by one nurse, who said ‘oh that’s Jimmy, that’s just his way’.

As you can see in this interview with Andrew Neil, Savile was adept at avoiding difficult questions. In this instance, he used a banana to avoid discussing his personal life.

5. Raising £3.5 million allowed him to get away with it

Savile began his relationship with the Leeds General Infirmary in the 1960s, after volunteering for the hospital’s radio station. Through his public persona, he raise significant sums for the hospital, leading to an official porter role and a set of keys to the building. Minutes from a meeting of the hospital’s board of governors in 1971 suggested they felt his appointment would ‘add dignity to the institution’ and ‘might improve security’.

In the House of Commons today, the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt gave the following statement:

‘Today I want to apologise on behalf of the Government and the NHS to all the victims who were abused by Savile in NHS-run institutions. We let them down badly and however long ago it may have been, many of them are still reliving the pain they went through.

‘If we cannot undo the past, I hope that honesty and transparency about what happened can at least alleviate some of the suffering. It’s the least we owe them.’

More Spectator for less. Subscribe and receive 12 issues delivered for just £12, with full web and app access. Join us now.

  • Roger Hudson

    It was never a ‘system’ failure, it was an establishment people failure.
    The cover-up is always worse than the crime in its width if not its depth.
    One example: how did Special branch and the security service, who collect dirt on any or everybody ever let him get near the royal family? You scratch my **** i’ll scratch(?) yours.
    There is a huge amount of dung that needs exposing before the end of this saga.

  • Jackthesmilingblack

    Jimmy Savile, friend of the rich and famous, including royalty. There was Ted the sailor man, a frequent visitor to Jersey, an island incidentally owned by HM. Police investigations into the disappearances of boys (mostly) from that children’s home on Jersey were knocked on the head when they were starting to get too close to finding out what really happened.
    And don’t overlook dear Uncle Dickie, another sailor. When his boat was blown up by the hard lads from Dublin, it was realised that local boys frequently spent the night on his boat, and several were caught up in the explosion.
    Face it Britisher pals, when it comes to paedophilia trials, only the small fry celebrities get thrown to the wolves. So before you rush to castigate this comment, keep in mind that I have this tedious habit of being ahead of the game.
    Jack, Japan Alps

    • George Smiley

      “Hard lads from Dublin”?! Trolls like you can’t even get the geography right!

      • Jackthesmilingblack

        Barrister Michael Shrimpton makes the same accusations.

        • George Smiley

          Hearsay, thus this is called being “inadmissible”; but then you are really a Japanese, so what would you know?!

          Mind you, David Icke (you can’t even spell his surname properly!) also says things about reptilians!

    • MikeF

      There were three teenage boys on the boat when it was blown up – one was a local lad who acted as a crew member, the other two were Mountbatten’s grandsons who were on-board with their parents, their mother was Mountbatten’s daughter, and paternal grandmother. Nothing there to support your insinuation. You are right about the ‘tedious’ bit though.

      • Jackthesmilingblack

        Must have been terribly crowded when you look at the size of the boat.

        • George Smiley

          Conspiracy-idiot-who-watches-and-likes-to-watch-too-much-rubbish-on-YouTube alert.

      • George Smiley

        You only have to read the part whereby he calls the Provos as “the hard lads from Dublin” to know that he is both a bumbling idiot and a bit of a Troll!

  • Colonel Mustard

    Whilst some of the direct witness testimony against him in the reports was appalling, there was also a surprising amount of subjective suspicion and anecdotal hearsay relayed as though factual. Let’s hope that does not become part of the new CPS policy of “painting a picture” of the accused. Prejudicially demonising suspects is not a good way to ensure fair trials.

  • David Booth.

    Savile was a chancer who bamboozled people who should have known better. But the allegations being thrown around appear to have evolved into an opportunity to get at a dead mans money.
    What next? he was seen on the grassey knoll in Dallas when President Kennedy was assassinated, and lurking on the NewYork street as John Lennon was shot.

  • 1498

    The BBC also have urgent questions, to answer to the British public. They are a respected and trusted institution at the heart of British life, for generations.
    How many assaults did Savile carry out on BBC premises? Surely people who worked there must have known. Rumors have been swirling around Savile for decades.
    This may be just the tip of the iceberg.

  • ADW

    I don’t doubt that there is a very strong case that has emerged against Savile. Only point I would make is this: he is not here to answer that case. Therefore, justice cannot be done or seen to be done. We need to be cautious about accepting everything said about him at face value. Not saying some, all or none of it is true – only that there has been a dangerous pattern of assuming all complaints and accusations are genuine. This would mean someone in the future subjected to similar accusations might be tarred with the same brush (this may or may not have happened with some of the elderly celebs arrested under Yewtree, and won’t have helped them get a fair trial) or it might mean a case is brought too hastily by the CPS, and is blown out of the water by a well-financed defence team.

  • SimonToo

    The location of the photograph is the steps of Church House, Dean’s Yard. Westminster. Whether the child was a patient at Stoke Mandeville, I could not say.

    • chesters

      yes the child was a patient, over many years, at Stoke Mandeville. He was a distant relative of mine, badly injured in a car crash age 5, died 15 years later. Jimmy Savile became a ‘special friend’ to him at SMH. God knows what really went on. His mother must be having nightmares.

  • Retired Nurse

    One witness described his actions as ‘harrowing’ – certainly a verb I’ve never come across in a mortuary context before …