Savile victims 'scared of speaking out'
Abuse victims are still frightened of speaking out against powerful people, Jeremy Hunt has warned in the wake of the shocking findings of the investigations into Jimmy Savile.
The British Health Secretary said there had been major changes in recent decades but “we haven’t come the whole way”.
A series of chilling reports into the activities of Savile found he committed “truly awful” abuse against patients at hospitals across the country and even boasted about having sex with corpses.
Branded as an “opportunistic sexual predator” by investigators, the disgraced entertainer used the NHS and his celebrity status to “exploit and abuse” patients and staff.
Among the most disturbing findings were “macabre accounts” of claims the now-dead TV and radio presenter performed sex acts on dead bodies in the mortuary at Leeds General Infirmary (LGI) and at least one other hospital.
Findings of investigations at 28 hospitals were published on Thursday. Among these was high-security Broadmoor, where Savile sexually abused at least five individuals, including two patients who were subjected to repeated assaults.
As the findings were released, Mr Hunt apologised on behalf of the British government and the NHS to the victims of Savile’s “sickening” sexual abuse, while Labour called for a code of conduct to be set up outlining the “appropriate relationship” between the NHS and celebrities or business backers.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I think we have to be really honest about this and say of course some things have changed hugely for the better since the 1970s and 80s when much of these awful things happened but we haven’t come the whole way.”
He added: “So many of his victims didn’t speak up because they felt he had some absolute power, he was part of the establishment, he had friends in high places, he was a huge celebrity and no one would believe them and we have to change that.
“I think we are kidding ourselves if we think that there aren’t people even today who are frightened of speaking out in those situations and whilst, of course, we always look at the law, we also have to look at the culture and being better at supporting people who do want to speak out.”