Jimmy Savile died in 2011 at the age of 84 (Reuters)
Jimmy Savile died in 2011 at the age of 84 (Reuters)

A police watchdog is investigating claims that a former West Yorkshire police officer "acted on behalf" of Jimmy Savile by contacting Surrey detectives before they interviewed him over sexual assault allegations.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) received a referral from West Yorkshire Police about the former inspector, identified as "Inspector 5".

The officer is alleged to have contacted Surrey Police in 2009 before the former Jim'll Fix It presenter was due to be interviewed over sexual assault allegations.

A Crown Prosecution Service lawyer working on the case at the time advised that no prosecutions against Savile could be brought as none of the accusers was prepared to support police action.

The IPCC has also asked forces in Surrey, Sussex, Thames Valley, Greater Manchester, London and Lancashire to revisit any information they have on Savile.

The police watchdog said it hopes its investigation could play a part in what many see as a "catalogue of institutional failings" in investigations into the former BBC star.

Police and Crime Commissioner Rachel Cerfontyne said: "Having had the opportunity to assess all the information that is available to us I directed West Yorkshire Police to record and refer the conduct of a former inspector.

"A number of bodies are already working to address deep-rooted public concern in this case and have published reports. It is now for the IPCC to assess thoroughly whether or not there are matters in relation to the conduct of individual officers that require an IPCC investigation."

West Yorkshire Police said: "The positive engagement between the force and the Police and Crime Commissioner with a desire by both to have a transparent understanding of what happened is important."

In January, a report by the Metropolitan Police and the NSPCC said there had been 214 recorded criminal offences lodged against Savile across 28 police force areas, including 34 cases of rape and 126 indecent assaults over six decades.