Has the Guardian gone mad about Jimmy Savile?

Has Jimmy Savile driven The Guardian mad? The tabloids, unsurprisingly, seek out the most sensational stories about the now disgraced disc jockey, as though to atone for their devotion to the man when he was alive. One would like to have thought that more serious newspapers would adopt a more sober tone.

The Guardian sometimes prints drivel. One expects nothing else from some of its star columnists, such as Seamus Milne who likes to write approvingly of Vladimir Putin and wistfully of the Soviet Union.

Its editorial columns are usually rather more sensible.

Last Thursday was an exception. Under the headline “Oblivion’s Too Good For Him,” the newspaper that remains required reading for the British left published an editorial that was so hysterical and so bizarre that it suggested the writer (who is sadly unnamed) might require a few weeks leave to calm himself down.

Its subject was Jimmy Savile. Bemoaning the fact that no Hell exists in which Mr Savile could be condemned to “eternal torment,” the editorial went on to make an extraordinary comparison:

If there is one thing to make the most benign agnostics wish that there were a God to punish sinners with eternal torment, it is the contemplation of history’s monsters. Oblivion is too good for the likes of Pol Pot, and for Jimmy Savile, too.”

Savile: monster who should be in Hell?
Savile: monster who should rot in Hell?

Pol Pot, of course, was the Cambodian Marxist dictator, who unquestionably, and on the most conservative possible estimate, murdered well over 1,000,000 people.

Let’s assume that the worst that anyone has ever said about Jimmy Savile were true. Let’s assume, as the Daily Mail reported, that he dragged a girl away to be murdered at Roecliffe Manor Home for convalescent children (although the official inquiry into the Home found “no reference to a death of a child … in any records reviewed,” and that it was “not possible to associate [Jimmy Saville] with … abuse at the Home.”).

Let’s assume, as one alleged victim told the famous therapist Valerie Sinason, that he beat and raped a 12 year old girl in a Satanic ritual while she was a patient at Stoke Mandeville Hospital (although the official inquiry into Stoke Mandeville Hospital found no evidence of any such incident).

Let’s assume, as, for example, the Stoke Mandeville inquiry did find (while correctly noting that it did not have the power to “make findings as to criminal or civil liability”) that he raped a number of children at Stoke Mandeville, and at other places too.

It would mean that he was a vile and repulsive man. Certainly, if he was a murderer and probably if he was a multiple child rapist it would mean that he should have ended his days in prison rather than feted by the very people who now anathematise him.

But how sensible is the comparison with Pol Pot?

Pol Pot: monster who should rot in Hell
Pol Pot: monster who should rot in Hell

Here is a description of one of the Khmer Rouge prisons:

The Tuol Sleng school buildings were enclosed with a double fence of corrugated iron topped with dense, electrified, barbed wire. The classrooms were converted into prison cells and the windows were fitted with bars and barbed wire. The classrooms on the ground floor were divided into small cells, 0.8m x 2m each, designed for single prisoners, who were shackled with chains fixed to the walls or floors. The rooms on the upper floors were used as communal cells. Here prisoners had one or both legs shackled to iron bars.

Before being placed in their cells, prisoners were photographed, all their possessions were removed and they were stripped to their underwear. They slept on the floor without mats, mosquito nets or blankets….

Some prisoners were used for surgical study and training while still alive. Blood was also drawn from prisoners’ bodies.

Prisoners’ babies brought to S-21 with them were killed by having their heads smashed against trees….

Those who died at S-21 were taken to Choeung Ek, outside Phnom Penh, to be buried in mass graves. Inmates of S-21 who survived interrogation were taken to Choeung Ek for execution.”

Unsurprisingly, the rape of prisoners often took place before their execution, although as Pot’s chief executioner Kaing Kek Iev (known as “Duch”) was to reveal after his subsequent arrest, the rapists themselves were then often executed for this “breach of protocol.”

As if the Pol Pot comparison were not strange enough, The Guardian also went further back in history, to the reign of Charles II. It noted how:

The bodies of three of the judges who had condemned his father to death were exhumed, publicly hanged at Tyburn, then decapitated and their heads exhibited on spikes at Westminster Hall, where his trial had taken place.”

Generally speaking one can count on The Guardian to oppose hanging and decapitation, even of long dead bodies. I’d never really thought about it but I’d also rather assumed that the public exposure of heads on spikes was not very, I don’t know, liberal. Nowadays, of course, the crucifixion of dead bodies and display of severed heads is again in vogue, but The Guardian has rarely, if ever, advocated the practice in its leader columns. The editorial noted, in a balanced way, that this sort of thing “strikes us as primitive and terrible.” On the other hand, there is a good deal to be said for it:

The savage, theatrical desecration captures and discharges something of the rage that Savile’s wickedness inspires today.”

Excuse me? Did I understand that right? Surely the Guardian is not advocating the digging up the body of a long dead celebrity, hanging him at Tyburn, dismembering him and sticking his head on a spike outside Broadcasting House? In fairness to The Guardian, probably not. The Guardian has Manchester roots and Alan Rusbridger would probably be happier to see the head outside the main entrance to the BBC’s northern HQ in Salford.

If practicalities do not allow for Mr Savile to be exhumed the Guardian has another solution as to how our rage at Savile’s memory might be assuaged.

One restitution might involve Savile’s fortune: why should his heirs enjoy the money that is surely due in compensation to his victims?”

That’s hardly a radical suggestion, although the vast bulk of Savile’s estate was left to charity and much of it has already been “enjoyed” by solicitors.

So The Guardian has another suggestion:

Some kind of public ceremony of what used to be called commination, a ritual expression of public condemnation and disgust.”

Traditionally a commination is an Anglican ceremony. One can’t really improve upon the Book of Common Prayer for an explanation:

In the primitive Church there was a godly discipline, that, at the beginning of Lent, such persons as stood convicted of notorious sin were put to open penance, and punished in this world, that their souls might be saved in the day of the Lord; and that others, admonished by their example, might be the more afraid to offend.”

A curse is called down upon notorious sinners, most famously, though not terribly appositely in Savil’s case, “cursed be he that removeth his neighbour’s landmark.” Paedophiles don’t get a specific mention, though I suppose they are included amongst:

… the unmerciful, fornicators, and adulterers, covetous persons, idolaters, slanderers, drunkards, and extortioners.”

But The Guardian has missed the point of a commination, the idea of which is not to cast dead sinners into Hell but to save them from that fate:

For though our sins be as red as scarlet, they shall be made white as snow; and though they be like purple, yet they shall be made white as wool. Turn ye (saith the Lord) from all your wickedness, and your sin shall not be your destruction.”

Once a sinner is dead it is

too late to knock, when the door shall be shut; and too late to cry for mercy, when it is the time of justice. O terrible voice of most just judgement, which shall be pronounced upon them, when it shall be said unto them, Go, ye cursed, into the fire everlasting, which is prepared for the devil and his angels.”

The Guardian, of course, doesn’t trust God to deal with sin. Perhaps it thinks He is in the pay of Big Oil. Its secular commination is for the dead Savile: it consists of the “destruction of his memorials;” and, as it approvingly observes, Savile’s gravestone was smashed.

So there we have it.

A national newspaper compares the unproven crimes of Jimmy Savile with the genocide of Pol Pot. The same, respectable, opinion-forming newspaper appears to call for his corpse to be dug up and mutilated, and expresses satisfaction that his grave has been desecrated.

Who could call that hysterical?

Virtually none of today’s complainants reported Savile’s behaviour whilst he was alive. The reasons given, repeated again and again in the various inquiry reports, is that they thought no-one would believe them, or they thought they would “get into trouble” or that the climate of the times was such that no-one would believe anything ill about a popular superstar.

How times have changed. Nowadays, in the eyes of the Guardian, to express any doubt that the smokey-smelling DJ was a villain comparable to Pol Pot has become a modern blasphemy.

I wonder whether the Guardian appreciates the irony.  Somehow I don’t think that it does.


Author: Matthew

I have been a barrister for over 25 years, specialising in crime. You may also have come across some of my articles I have written on legal issues for The Times, Standpoint, Daily Telegraph or Criminal Law & Justice Weekly

36 thoughts on “Has the Guardian gone mad about Jimmy Savile?”

    1. Anna Raccoon is a Savile Denier. She was even called one by a High Court Judge at RCJ. She has spent 3 years (or more) calling ALL those that accused Savile of inappropriate behaviour liars. I would not advice ANYONE to read her versions of what she claims to be truth.

      1. I don’t really know what you mean by “Savile Denier”. She was at Duncroft School disputes some of the things said about Savile’s visits. She does not say that “all those who accused Savile of inappapropriate behaviour are liars.” She is a first class blogger and in my experience is careful with her facts. I am aware of the court case to which you’re referring: I think we should wait for the judgment. In any case Anna Raccoon was not a party to the case, nor was she called as a witness in it.

        1. A couple of corrections/clarifications, if I may:

          – Anna Raccoon was NOT called a ‘Savile denier’ (for the love of Christ!) by “a high court judge” but by the legal representative of the defendent – Karin Ward – in the libel case brought by Freddie Starr.

          An excellent write-up can be found here:

          Of particluar note is the following comment: “Ms Ward has ‘no idea’ how the BBC got the impression that she was 14.”

          Thanks to the work of blogger Rabbitaway, we DO know how the BBC got this impression, as the BBC Newsnight interview (with Liz McKean) in which Ward stated it has been tracked down:

          – Anna Raccoon was actually NOT at Duncroft at the time Savile was a visitor; in fact, her involvement & interest in the Savile affair can probably be traced back to her amazement at reading reports of incredible goings-on of which she certainly ought to have been aware, had they really taken place.
          (It has now been accepted that Savile never stepped foot in the place until 1974, by which point she was no longer resident there, and which of course pours cold water over the fantabulous concoctions of the gang of accusers who claimed that he had been.)

          A good place to start for those interested in the truth of the matter:

  1. Staggering stuff, Matthew. Great piece. What could be worse than (er, not) having abused girls at Duncroft? Next they’ll be claiming Savile was a climate change denier 😉

  2. They missed out Oliver Cromwell. Parliament itself ordered him disinterred, and then hung, drawn and quartered. Maybe Danczuk will put the idea forward as a Private Members Bill in time for the Election.

      1. Isn’t Oliver credited with the quote that when one of his lieutenants complimented him about the crowds were all cheering for him, Oliver remarked, “They’d just as soon be hanging me!”.

        1. Yes that does ring a bell. I’ve always remembered a quotation from the Ladybird book of Oliver Cromwell. After raising him for his wise leadership in England it had the wonderful line: “He was never cruel, except in Ireland.”

  3. Why not ‘assume’ the obvious instead Matthew ? Several inquiries after the Metropolitan Police and the 6th Emergency service in the UK (after The Sun and Personal Injury lawyers – the NSPCC), what do we actually KNOW as fact ? That the same Police force would have been aware of the SAME claims about Savile, because he was created as a suspect on Holmes the Police National Computer in 2008. An investigation involving several Police forces and numerous local authorities etc, found ‘insufficient evidence’ to proceed.
    A man dead or alive is considered innocent until proven otherwise. To date, NO such proof has been offered by anyone, none !
    Who knows what goes on inside of the heads of these so-called journalists. I for one don’t care because I can read intelligent blogs like yours and Moor’s and all the others who care about truth.
    Thank you !

    1. As you cannot put the dead on trial, such “proof” is not available, but there is plenty of the sort of well-corroborated evidence and testimony from hundreds of witnesses, who would have convinced me and any sensible jury. He himself frequently boasted about his activities to others at the BBC. He told them that he used his caravan for sex with underage girls. The girls agree. Savile is on tape appearing on Have I Got News for You. When Paul Merton asks him what he does in his caravan, he replies with a grin, “Anyone I can get me hands on.” He was hiding it in plain view. So it is fair and logical to consider Savile guilty.

      1. It was just a long standing joke, another way of saying “mind your own business” each Christmas we’d ask what he’d be doing, depending on the era he’d say “two Bulgarians and a Romanian” or “One blonde dolly bird and a brunette” – just silly bloody answers that we now find amazing are being used to judge him today.

        Surprised you haven’t quoted his regular “no girls school in the country is safe from me” – get a grip! And hiding in plain sight??? That is just used now to justify why such silly statements were rightly ignored for the silliness that they were.

        Am amazed even half intelligent people thought they were anything else.

        Apologies for bad grammar, seeing red doesn’t bode well for good grammar.

        1. Your message is rude, personally insulting towards me and offensive, to the victims as well as to me If you cannot discuss things without insulting other participants you should be banned as a troll.

          1. ” So it is fair and logical to consider Savile guilty.”

            Absolute rubbish. There is not one single proven case against him. Most of the tales are just that- tales–and any that have any facts that can still be checked demonstrate Savile’s innocence. Such antics as the accusations of abuse at Top of the Pops filmings at the BBC Television centre on pre-1969 occasions when it is a matter of recorded fact that the shows were NOT recorded at the BBC Television Centre prior to the end of 1969.

  4. What chance go we have? The Khmer Rouge would struggle against this tide of sheer hatred. Ignoring the truth and silencing those who dare not speak up, is akin to Putin’s regime with kid gloves – difference is, we think we have fairness and justice, but we don’t – which is much worse – The Truman Show springs to mind! Please wake me up when this nightmare is over ! Ranting so much, forgot to say, well done Sir and thank you!

  5. They are doing this to draw attention away from the growing number of cases of Asian grooming gangs across England. It’s not just Rotherham or even a few more, There are dozens of towns with a similar problem. Very young girls are lured in, given drugs, then used for prostitution and gang-rape, sometimes suffering for years on end. The people who want to avoid mentioning this, because it might seem “racist”, need to build up Jimmy Savile into a monster big enough to outweigh them all.

    1. Well said, it’s so obvious but people sadly rarely make the connection.

      The more arrests, charges and trials of Muslim grooming gangs the more hysterical these diversions get. The rape, trafficking, pimping epidemic strikes at the root of the Guardian’s Religion of Diversity

  6. Slightly off topic – how will we ever know if the evidence that has been given against any fraudulent claim has been listened to? When the compensation is paid later this month, knowing who has and who hasn’t been paid will be kept secret. It will just be numbers like at the Appeal hearing in November “56 assessed, 36 disregarded (polite word for fraudulent) and 11 approved.

    Who are these 11? What if the scrutinisers provided evidence against these 11 and it was disregarded – how will we ever know????

    Can this be right, fair and just?

    Can anyone help?

  7. The idea the Guardian puts forward as a commination seems to be more closely related to the Roman ‘damnatio memoriae’ – the condemnation of the memory of a hated figure after his death, most famously a loathed emperor such as Domitian or Nero. The protocol was to destroy his statues, remove references in public inscriptions and vitiate any acts done by the memory-condemned man. It was an appropriate (if ultimately futile) approach in a culture that had no real belief in the afterlife but a very high regard for both individual and family reputation. Perhaps we have come full circle?

  8. The claim that Saville was given free rein to use hospitals, schools and so on as his sexual playground is, among other things, an appalling slur upon the countless dedicated people who worked in these institutions. Many people – nurses, doctors, fundraisers, administrators, volunteers – must feel that their careers are now under the most dreadful shadow, that their care and devotion over many years counts for nothing. They cannot speak out and in this national hatefest nobody cares about them. Many will be retired now, what must they think as they listen to the ever more hysterical claims made about their working lives? This is a mad age.

    Thank you sir for this blast of good sense amid all the hysteria.

  9. Excellent Matthew. One of your best. I suppose God must be in the pay of Chrism Oil (jest). You are right, this editorial fails to realise that the Commination Prayer is about forgiveness – hate the sin but love the sinner. Appropriately Salford is the home of the Religious Affairs (soon to be Humanities) Unit.

    You will remember the dreadful murder in Bristol of Bijan Ebrahamini, who was wrongly considered to be a paedophile thanks to a crass police investigation into his persecuted by local children on the rough estate where he lived. For me, this editorial is positively dangerous insofar as it fans the flames which continue to burn as a result of the moral panic which has gripped the UK. Such hysteria needs calming down to enable sensible, measured and well informed debate.

    It’s the same approach I have seen among those who debate child abuse within our society using the term ‘holocaust’ – the holocaust suffered by those in children’s homes or the holocaust that is the witch hunt suffered by the falsely accused. I have spoken to many Jews who suffered during the German Holocaust and made a pilgrimage to Auschwitz. I find the ‘H’ word is now so totally bound up with the events of the late 1030s – 1940s it is nothing short of a disgrace to identify it with anything other than the very worst acts of mass genocide.

    When the General Belgrano was sunk during the Falklands War many will remember the front page of the Sun newspaper with the words “Gotcha”. I knew several Royal Naval officers in those days, all of whom objected in the strongest terms to this. One retired captain said, “It us the duty of the armed services to fight those battles demanded of them during times of conflict but few of us enjoy killing as we know the dead all have mothers and some children. They could equally be our friends and our colleagues, and perhaps in another time and in another place will be.”

    I think these were wise words, calmly considered. It was a shame the editor of the Sun lacked such compassion and wisdom then and it is appalling the Editor of the Guardian lacked the wisdom and good judgment over this very different issue.

  10. What a brilliantly argued piece Matthew. It’s nice to see that some people haven’t succumbed to the rubbish that is printed as so called news in the media.
    Slightly off topic.
    I noticed that the Health Secretary had to have his say about the allegations. He noted that there was £40 million in the estate of SJS.
    What a load of tosh. Jimmy raised approx. 40 million for charities in his lifetime.He wants to pay out claimants regardless of the validity of their claim from this so called pot of gold. He goes on to say that if all that money is used up then a special compensation fund in the NHS will be used to pay claimants.
    Jimmy’s personal estate amounted to some £3 million, most of which has already been claimed by personal injury lawyers who really only care about their fees.
    The remainder of the compensation he wanted to pay out of the SJS Charitable Trust.
    Doesn’t he realise that the money in that charity came from public sponsorship not from SJS himself. All he did was to put his name to the charity, it isn’t his money to be distributed. Only the charity trustees can do that.
    I would have thought that a minister of the crown would have been better informed.

  11. Can’t read this article from the Guardian as I value my mental health, but looking on your Twitter account Matthew, you say they’ve said “let’s desicrate Saviles grave” – i think the owner of said grave may have something to say about this – JS does not own the grave, someone else does – in your or any other readers legal opinion, would the owner have some recourse against the Guardian for inciting criminal damage to someone’s property?

  12. What an extraordinarily insulting article that Guardian piece was to all the victims of Pol Pot and their remaining family members.
    And dare we delve into who created Pol Pot , the US invasion of Vietnam and it’s decimation of a million souls and so on that eventually gave rise to a murderous regime under Pol Pot.
    This was a disgraceful article for The Guardian to run- indeed any publication- and it has seriously damaged the Guardian’s reputation, whatever it has left.
    To read the comment’s section is harrowing as conspiracy rumours run amok as Margaret Thatcher’s body is demanded to be dug up along with Savile and burnt at the stake.
    Perhaps with Maggie they could do it outside the Ritz where she spent her last days while Savile can be flayed in Leeds’ market square.
    In this insane Witch Hunt that so many in the British legal establishment and policing forces have so easily caved into and silently accepted the absolute tosh that has been readily accepted : they seem to have forgotten how a good Salem style Witch Hunt progresses.
    Having no-one to crucify- Savile, Brittan or Thatcher etc the fanatics turn to the next best thing : those they perceive aided the monsters in their Devil work : the NHS nurses, the local policeman, hospital managers, teachers and so on.
    Already there are demands someone be held to account- anyone.
    They will not be satisfied though as that is how a witch hunt progresses as Senator McCarthy as more and more victims were found until finally someone challenged him.
    Britain is now in the grip of this witch hunt and those promoting it, the gormless media, the silent legal profession, various police forces will find themselves in the firing line.

  13. Perhaps readers could write with suggestions for a public ceremony, the more ridiculous the better, and see which one gets the seal of approval! I wondered what was going on at The Guardian last year after seeing this:
    “I asked him if he seriously believed that his portrait was a good work of art.
    Anger suddenly crossed his previously beaming face. That dark side … ” And that’s it. No, wait, there’s more. “My blood is starting to boil all over again as I think about that glimpse into an era of lies. Seriously, what cultural malaise was this?”

  14. Let’s face it, the Guardian has been mad for a long time. At least thirty years. Run by smug trendy-lefties who honestly imagine they could have the same affluent lifestyle they enjoy here if they lived under a communist regime. The Independent is nearly as bad. The really worrying thing is that the Times has gone the same way and recently the Telegraph has started to do the same. It has shifted sharply to the left, while also (incoherently) assuming a norm of support for EU membership. With the BBC and all main TV channels favouring the trendy-left our national media are overwhelmingly biased and this is a calamity. This country desperately needs a conservative newspaper that defends freedom, prioritizes incentive and excellence over equality, values tradition and upholds our identity as a broadly Christian country.

  15. Savile seems to have spent much, if not most, of his time in hospitals, especially trauma hospitals, and much of the time in them seems to have been spent delivering patients to theatre for sedation and then collecting patients from the recovery room after surgery.

    Some time ago I heard the following documentary and later found its transcript (https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01ksc3b):

    Restraining Patients in Intensive Care
    Inside the Ethics Committee, Series 8 Episode 1 of 4
    First broadcast R4 Thu 19 Jul 2012 21:00?

    In which it was said (around seven and a half to eight and a half minutes in) that half of patients who had been sedated suffered from delirium producing hallucinations so lifelike that they could not be convinced they weren’t real, and I’m sure it was mentioned in the transmission I heard, that half of those were of a sexual nature, but that does not appear in the transcript.

    And more recently in Inside Health (https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b07z45x4):
    Last on Wed 19 Oct 2016 15:30
    BBC Radio 4
    Dying at Home, Familial Hypercholesterolaemia FH, Delirium:

    Where, in the last section, the large number of patients suffering from delirium as a result of their illness and, again, being unable to distinguish the fantasy from reality, was discussed.

    Given the large number of, often bizarre, sexual abuse claims that have been in the news in recent years, often linked to hospital patients or anaesthetised dental patients, many subsequently proved to be false, is it possible that these (like alien abduction claims?) are actually the result of these two phenomena, individually, or acting together, and not real abuse?

  16. Jimmy Savile was a devout Catholic, attending mass daily. His public persona enabled him to care for the sick, the lonely and those in prison as Christ commands. He gave 90% of his earnings and all his bequest to charity. None of the published accusations against him hold water and he died an innocent man.

    The fact that our insane, abortion-loving, porn-pushing, child-sexualising, god-hating culture has created a Savile hate fest is not surprising. It’s venom is directly proportional to Jimmy’savile kindness, faith and generosity.

  17. Either I have lost the plot or others have? It is now excepted Savile was a child abuser at Duncroft, the report (for Rabbitaway) done recently states he was invited by the mother of a girl called { her privacy matters), stated he first visited Duncroft in 1972. ‘‘Tis is the excepted date…NOT the stolen visitors book he signed, now returned to Dr Banardos.
    As for Pol Pot, how awful to be lumped with Savile, I send my sympathies to all Victims, no matter what the cause.

  18. Looking at who has posted here I can see no point in telling you that you are all wrong. You will continue to believe what you choose. I know the truth and what happened decades ago. I know you will all say I am lying but hey, it happened to me, not you, so why do you care so much about a dead guy?

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