31 October 2014

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Reporter ‘betrayed’ by friend Savile over abuse allegations

A regional daily reporter who became a friend of Jimmy Savile and wrote his authorised biography says she feels “betrayed” by him after a series of damning sexual abuse allegations.

Yorkshire Evening Post reporter Alison Bellamy quizzed Savile over rumours about his fondness for young girls in 2006, but says he “laughed off” the claims.

Although she believed him at the time, and included his denials in her book published in June, she now says she has to accept the “terrible truth” about the former presenter.

Alison, who says she feels “devastated” by the scandal, has now penned a first-person piece for the Evening Post giving her response to the growing scale of allegations, which have led to a number of inquiries being launched.

Her friendship with the Yorkshire-based former TV star, who was a childhood hero of hers, started when she started covering his charity work for the paper.

It led to her being appointed his official biographer and writing the book How’s About That, Then? after his death last year.

Alison with Jimmy Savile

Alison told HTFP: “In the book, I did address the rumours which had swirled around Jimmy Savile for decades and I did ask him about them in 2006.

“He laughed it off saying: ‘It goes with the territory of being a DJ’. In hindsight, a lot of people have asked me how I did not know. I didn’t believe it, I had asked him and he denied it. ”

In her piece for the YEP, Alison described her first meeting with Savile, recalling the “swirl of Cuban cigar smoke” that greeted her in the hallway of his penthouse flat.

She said she subsequently spent lots of time alone with Savile and he had never once given her cause for concern, but she now thinks back to things he said, seeing them in a new light.

“As a news reporter in his home city, along with dozens of other journalists, fundraisers and interested parties, I had heard the sly comments and whisperings about his fondness for young girls. But, when confronted, he would confidently laugh-off any inquiries,” she wrote.

“And, of course, we believed it. And we were not alone. Among those taken in by kindly, fundraising Sir Jim were the Pope, Margaret Thatcher, Princess Diana – the great and the good of the world.”

Added Alison: “Once the allegations started to emerge, I found myself at the centre of one of the biggest-ever stories.

“Now, ‘Did you know?’ is the oft-repeated question. Sometimes it is: ‘How could you not know?’

“It’s hard to explain. It is bewildering, in fact. To his close circle of friends, the predatory, child-abusing Savile the world has heard so much about for the last few weeks, was not the man we thought we knew so well.

“But after hearing stories from women first hand, I now have to accept the terrible truth.”

Her full article can be read here.

9 Comments

  1. Liz Carnell, Leeds

    Feel very sorry for Alison and Savile’s other friends and relatives, as well as the victims of his paedophile behaviour.

    Ironically, it was easier for him to get away with it in the full glare of the media than anyone would ever have believed possible.

    It was the biggest Jim’ll Fix it of all.

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  2. Neil

    The Savile story is a bandwagon that quite a few journalists have already jumped on, and more will do so – there’s already been one reporter from some local paper on here alleging a corporate cover-up. I find it remarkable though that people are surprised that they are lied to when they ask a loaded question such as “do you like little girls”. What’s the guy going to do? Put his hands up and say “fair cop – you’ve got me bang to rights”? Anyone writing an authorised biography should know that they are going to soft-soap the whole story anyway – for cash.

    PS – Like the line about Thatcher and reference to the “great and the good”: it’s not often that those clauses run together.

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  3. linto

    Got to agree with Neil here.
    The job of a journalist is to probe and keep probing, rather than just accepting someone’s word as fact.
    I found this from an interview this journalist did with Savile six years ago:
    “In the restaurant I am introduced as his sex therapist and I go along with the joke.
    “One of the waiters asks if I really am a sex therapist and could I help him with his problem.
    “Despite his daft, childish comments, I begin to think that Jimmy is actually quite sensible. He must be to have raised tens of millions for charity over the years.”
    Bizarre that the conclusion is that he must be sensible because he raises millions for charity.

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  4. BeenThereDoneThat, The North

    …. because of course the Pope would never allow child abuse to be covered up, would he.

    Savile was always ghastly, and was widely known to be a groper and worse. The mystery is why he was ever given air time in the first place.

    This awful case is a prime example of ‘wilful blindess’, and as such will not be the last.

    Incidentally – after talk of other arrests, they’re hardly rushing, are they. Still disinclined to act, perhaps?

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  5. Rupert Bear

    “Savile was always ghastly, and was widely known to be a groper and worse.”

    Amazing how so many people now claim to have known the truth about the man.

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  6. Sub be good to me

    The sad thing is Alison did not feel under threat from Savile because she was not young enough

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  7. Hard Pressed

    There are none so blind as those that will not see!

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  8. BeenThereDoneThat

    To Rupert Bear

    Yes – many did know, although presumably few if any realised the extent. He groped a friend of mine many years ago. But that isn’t enough to go to the police with nowadays; it certainly wasn’t back in the 1970s.

    To quote LP Hartley: “The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.”

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  9. Tanja Cilia, Malta, Europe

    This awful case is a prime example of ‘wilful blindess’, and as such will not be the last… BeenThereDoneThat, The North couldn’t have been more right. http://www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20121016/blogs/let-s-pretend.441348 shows that this is not the only one that got away…

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