Abuse lawyer, Jenny Hall, reports on the impact of the Jimmy Savile revelations on victims of sexual abuse

In the past 5 days the NSPCC has received 40 calls in the wake of further allegations of sexual abuse committed by Jimmy Savile.  It confirmed that 17 of these calls related directly to Savile, but that a further 21 people had called to speak to the charity’s counsellors about abuse they have suffered at the hands of other people.  Director of Child Protection Advice and Awareness, Peter Watt, issued the following statement:

“It’s vital for all victims of sexual abuse to come forward to offer information or seek help, no matter when the offence was committed or who the offender was.” 

Samantha Robson, personal injury solicitor at Slee Blackwell and abuse compensation specialist says:

“The high profile nature of the Savile case has opened the doors to those who have suffered historic abuse and have been afraid to speak out until now.  The media spotlight has been firmly focused on allegations made against Jimmy Savile and it is horrifying to learn of the potential number of victims who have been silent for so many years.  I fully understand why victims have been reluctant to come forward and speak out about a public figure who until now has been revered for his philanthropy and charitable works.  I hope that sex abuse victims will now feel able to come forward and receive the help and support that they deserve.  There are a number of legal avenues open to victims, including compensation claims, which may allow them to seek redress and find closure.  I would advise people to seek legal advice from expert abuse lawyers as this is a highly specialised area of law and you need someone with experience of this kind of litigation on your side.”

Police at Scotland Yard are pursuing 120 separate lines of inquiry into the abuse of young girls by Jimmy Savile and there are now ten police forces involved in a national operation being lead by the Met and the NSPCC.  Greater Manchester police has received two complaints of historic abuse dating back to the 1960s and Tayside police has received one report of a historical incident which happened in the Liverpool area.  North Yorkshire police have also announced that they received a report of an offence alleged to have taken place in Scarborough in the late 1980s.

Dominating the headlines yesterday were the new allegations of abuse made by former patients of the Leeds General Infirmary, Stoke Mandeville Hospital, and the Broadmoor psychiatric centre. 

Savile worked as a porter at the LGI in the 1960s and 1970s and was also a charity fundraiser at the hospital.  Yesterday, June Thornton, a former nurse who was at the time recuperating at the LGI after spinal surgery in March 1972, spoke out on BBC news about a shocking incident she witnessed where Jimmy Savile molested a young brain-damaged patient on the ward.

Former patients of Stoke Mandeville hospital have also come forward about alleged abuse carried out by Savile there.  Savile began volunteering as a porter at the hospital in the 1970s and helped to raise £40 million for its pioneering spinal injuries unit over the course of several decades.  One former patient told BBC news that the nurses dreaded Savile’s visits and advised the children to “stay in bed until he’s gone and pretend to be asleep.”  Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust denied it had ever received any complaints about Savile’s behaviour and said it was shocked by the allegations.

A solicitor in Jersey who is representing 42 victims of child abuse at Jersey care homes including Haut de la Garenne, has said a number of his clients have named Jimmy Savile as one of the many alleged abusers involved in the scandal.  The States of Jersey police investigated Savile during a three-year inquiry into abuse at the Haut de la Garenne children’s home after it was alleged that he was involved in an indecent assault in the 1970s. However, there was insufficient evidence to prosecute him.  The investigator who led the enquiry believes that there were at least 5 victims in Jersey and said that Savile chose his victims carefully and targeted vulnerable children who were in care because of trouble with the law and who would not be believed if they had told the truth because they had already been branded as liars. 

Savile has been described by Scotland Yard as a “predatory sex offender” and although he died last year at the age of 84 having never been charged with any abuse offences, the investigation into claims of abuse perpetrated by him over a period of more than 40 years continues.

As far as civil remedies are concerned, of course financial compensation alone will never relieve the pain that child abuse causes. However, making an abuse compensation claim is empowering and can open the door to expert counselling and therapy which can assist the road to recovery. The claims process can also provide access to training and educational opportunities which are so important in securing a successful and prosperous future, particularly for individuals affected by sexual abuse.

In the past the fact that the assault or abuse occurred many years ago may have prevented you from bringing a civil compensation claim due to The Limitation Act, which specifies that legal claims must be brought by certain dates. However, this is no longer the case.  As a result of a landmark decision often referred to as the lottery rapist case, a victim of historical sexual abuse can still bring a claim for compensation.  In 2004, the offender was serving a 16 year jail sentence for attempted rape.  While he was on day release from prison, he bought a lottery ticket and won £7 million.  His victim learned about his windfall and tried to sue him for damages. Because the incident occurred in 1988 she was therefore out of time, as a 6 year limitation applied to her case. However, the House of Lords decided that discretion could be applied to the time limit and her case was allowed to proceed.  This case has paved the way for other victims of abuse to bring cases that would otherwise be out of time. 

Even if the perpetrator of the abuse has since died it may still be possible to bring a claim against their estate. It is therefore likely that the executors of Jimmy Savile’s estate are gearing up to face a barrage of compensation claims.

Our abuse compensation lawyers work closely with solicitors in our specialist Contentious Probate department and are therefore in the position of being able to offer a complete legal service.  Contentious probate solicitor Hayley Blyth has written an article explaining this process in more depth: http://www.abusecompensation.co.uk/news-articles/savile-legacy.html

If would like free initial advice on a confidential, no obligation basis, please contact partner, Samantha Robson on Freephone 0808 139 1597 or email us at info@abusecompensation.co.uk. 

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