The extent of Jimmy Savile's sexual abuse has been outlined in a new report, released on 25 February. In addition to evidence submitted by BBC staff witnesses, the report also outlines some of the rumours and gossip that was circulating the corporation's offices during Savile's decades of sexual abuse.
The enquiry, led by Dame Janet Smith, interviewed 117 current and former BBC staff members and drew up a number of rumours that were being spread about Savile at the time. However, the report indicates that there was "no clear conclusion that any general belief existed" among staff.
The report states: "All one can say from these rumours is that, while a lot of people did hear rumours or stories, a lot did not, including some who were at the BBC for a long time and might have been expected to."
Some BBC staff members said that they had heard rumours that Savile was bisexual or asexual, while others reported more specific stories such as mothers were taking their daughters to Savile to "sort them out". Another BBC staff reported a rumour had been heard that police were interested in Savile as a paedophile. Many indicated that they were not shocked by the rumours and no one ever thought to report it as they assumed BBC management was aware of his reputation. Most people assumed that other people had also heard the rumours.
IBTimes UK has rounded up some of the rumours heard by BBC staff during Savile's years of sexual abuse.
1. A young girl's parents refused involvement with a Savile TV series
Dame Esther Rantzen heard first heard a rumour about Savile in the early 1970s. She was told that people making a programme about Savile for an ITV series had wished to include the parents of a young girl with heart problems that Savile had provided financial help for. However, the parents reportedly refused the invitation to appear on the TV show. Dame Esther said that "the implication was that there was another side to it, which was a darker side".
2. Savile recorded himself having sex with nurses
Dame Esther also said that a sound editor for the BBC Radio 1 show Savile's Travels told her that Savile had recorded himself having sex with nurses at Stoke Mandeville hospital. However, there had been no indication that the nurses were unwilling.
Roger Cook, investigative journalist, received anonymous contributions in 1980 that Savile had abused patients at Stoke Mandeville Hospital.
3. Savile was a "gangland enforcer" in Leeds
Andy Kershaw heard a rumour from "many sources" in the 1950s and 1960s that Savile would use physical violence against those who upset the people that ran nightclubs in Leeds. He heard the rumour while at Leeds University when he was entertainment secretary.
4. Savile took girls to his camper van for sex
One of the most widely circulated rumours about Savile appeared to be that he would have sex with girls in his camper van. While some rumours indicated that these were "young girls", many did not think twice about what "young girls" meant, while others did hear that the girls were underage.
Liz Kershaw, BBC Radio 1 disc jockey and presenter, heard that Savile had sex in his caravan while his production staff were outside. David Treadway, who was chief assistant for BBC Radio 2 in the early 1980s, heard rumours that Savile liked sex with young girls but thought that this meant girls in their mid to late teens.
Jeff Simpson, press officer in the 1980s and 1990s, heard that Savile had been having sex with a young girl in his camper van while the producer of Savile's Travels was driving it. The producer, Ted Beston, denied the rumour.
Brian Clifford, head of information services from 1988-1990, heard rumours that Savile invited guests to his camper van but did not hear that the guests were underage girls. Mike Read, radio disc jockey and presenter, did hear about "Jimmy and his young ladies" but didn't give any thought to what "young ladies" implied.
Andy Kershaw heard the rumours and said that they had been "rife throughout the entertainment industry and were not limited to the BBC". He said that the press were also aware of them.
5. Savile invited young girls to his flat near Regent's Park
Doreen Davies, executive producer at BBC Radio 1, attended a meeting between Savile and Derek Chinnery (head of BBC Radio 1 in the 1970s). During the meeting in 1973, Chinnery reportedly asked Savile about rumours that he had young girls staying at his London flat. Davies said that Savile admitted that this was true, however, he insisted that the girls were staying in sleeping bags on his lounge floor. They would allegedly be offered tea in the morning and would then leave. Chinnery reportedly accepted this explanation.
Jeff Simpson, press officer in the 1980s and 1990s, also heard that Savile would invite girls back to his flat. Simpson said that he had also heard from Mike Read that whenever Savile came out of Broadcasting House during school holidays, a group of young girls would be waiting on the pavement. He said that sometimes they would ask him when he was "coming up to Jimmy's". Read said that he understood Savile had invited the girls to his flat on the impression that Read was going to be there as well, however, Read told them that this would not be the case. Read has confirmed the story is true and the report indicated that Savile could have been using Read as "bait".
6. 'I'm going to marry Savile after what happened last night'
David Simmons, who worked at the BBC between 1970 and 1979, heard a story from an acquaintance of his who had been to a gig that a young girl present said she was going to marry Savile. When the young girl was probed as to how that would be possible, the girl allegedly said: "Well, after what happened last night, he's got to marry me." Simmons stressed that he did not know whether the story was true.
7. The old lady with the cake/marmalade
A rumour that had been dismissed by the report as an "urban myth" is one dubbed the "marmalade story". It was said that Savile was living in his camper van while recording a show on location, when one afternoon an elderly lady approached the van and asked to speak to Savile. Some versions of the story note that the woman was told Savile was "busy", while others say that the woman was told Savile was not there. The rumour indicates that Savile was inside the van with a young girl and the movement of the van suggested that there were two people inside having sex. The old lady is not thought to have noticed this and allegedly handed the producer a jar of jam or marmalade to "thank" Savile for "all the good work he did for young people".
Roger Cook, investigative journalist, heard a version of the story from a freelance cameraman who claimed to have seen the incident himself. While the punchline remains the same, the cameraman allegedly said that the old lady knocked on the door, upon which Savile appeared looking "dishevelled". The cameraman allegedly said he was handed a cake, not marmalade.