As the BBC tries to tough out its complicity in Jimmy Savile’s sex crimes in the hope that the storm will blow over, a letter appeared in the Daily Mail of Tuesday 19 March that hasn’t made it to the website. I think it deserves to speak for itself to a wider audience.
Every day we are subjected to more revelations and accusations that nothing was done about Jimmy Savile, with all declaring ‘We didn’t know’. We’re all told he might have been actively abusing as early as 1964.
As a child in the Fifties, my school friends and I were more than aware of the shenanigans at the Mecca ballroom in Leeds. Older, racier girls told us lurid tales of ‘the room behind the curtain’ and ‘the mattress on the floor’. There was no suggestion of underage sex, but every girl who went behind the curtain knew exactly what was expected of her. in return, they received free tickets into the Mecca, drinks and cigarettes.
The lady who posted on the BBC obituary web page 'He was notorious in Scarborough, I wouldn’t let my son sit on his knee' was absolutely correct. He was equally notorious in Leeds. Our parents warned us to stay away from him.
On his visits to the Leeds General Infirmary, the nurses and staff regarded him as a nuisance, getting in the way by demanding special attention. Many nurses asked to take their breaks when it was announced that he was coming to a ward, rather than be around when he was there.
The few staff outside the LGI when his cortege passed had been told to stand there. The absence of Leeds citizens of a certain age who knew about his past, and the absence of other celebrities at his funeral, spoke volumes. It wasn’t hidden – everyone knew. They just chose to do nothing.