A reporter from a Scottish daily who interviewed Jimmy Savile six years ago has said she found him “cagey,” “evasive,” and “very odd.”
The Scotsman’s Claire Smith visited the Scottish home of the late TV presenter in Glen Coe and attended his 80th birthday party to interview him but found his conversation was “characterised by inappropriate sexual innuendo” and “suggestive banter.”
She has now written about the experience in the wake of a series damning allegations over Savile’s behaviour, which led police to describe him this week as a “predatory sex offender.”
In the article, Claire wrote that Savile seemed disappointed that she was not younger when they met and that their conversation had taken on new significance since the allegations emerged.
She wrote: “I remember when I got back to the office after going to Sir Jimmy Savile’s 80th birthday party, the news editor asked me: ‘Well, what’s he really like?’ I said: ‘I have no idea.’
“After decades of playing cat and mouse with the media, Savile was giving nothing away. He was cagey, evasive, clever, funny and completely inscrutable. There was no way I was going to get anything out of him.
“Looking back on that encounter now, six years later, it becomes clear why he had these defences in place: he had much to hide.
“The past two weeks have brought fresh allegations of sexual abuse involving young girls on a daily basis, and the content of our conversation – his conversation – makes me shudder as I recognise its significance with the benefit of hindsight.”
Her article added: “His conversation was characterised by inappropriate sexual innuendo. This was an uncomfortable surprise: it did not meet my expectations of a children’s entertainer.
“There were regular references to ‘young ladies’ in his suggestive banter, which might have jarred in the unreconstructed 1970s, never mind 2006.
“He asked me to call my mother, then took the phone and told her that I’d come for a job at The Golden Hands Massage Parlour. ‘ She says you can give her a reference,’ he told my mother.
“He was not being flirtatious, just odd. Very odd. And he spoke just like he did on television – in short staccato bursts with a full stop in between each word.
“He was clever. He was funny. He was sharp. But he wasn’t really warm. He wasn’t really likeable. Looking back, I’m amazed how much he was managing to cover up – and how he kept it hidden for so many years.”
Claire also writes about the complex negotiations she had to go through in order to pursuade Savile to write an article for The Scotsman about Glen Coe and how he played a “long drawn-out game” before finally agreeing.
The full article can be read here.