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 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.