The Yorkshire Post’s James Mitchinson has taken the decision following the publication of Dame Janet Smith’s review yesterday into paedophile Savile’s “monstrous” abuse of 72 victims over five decades at the BBC.
Leeds-born Savile, pictured above left, died aged 84 in 2011 without ever facing prosecution, but two years later a joint report by the NSPCC and Metropolitan Police revealed 450 people across the country had made complaints against him.
Yesterday’s report revealed that Savile would commit sexual assaults “whenever the opportunity arose” and that incidents took place “in virtually every one of the BBC premises at which he worked.” Eight of his 72 victims were raped.
James explained his decision in an editorial carried in the Post today.
He wrote: “Even though he was the face of popular entertainment for decades, Jimmy Savile’s sexual depravity was such that most people, not least his many, many victims, are so repulsed by the sight of the predatory paedophile’s photograph that they do not deserve gratuitous reminders of the haunting image and the sickening memories it brings back.
“As Dame Janet Smith’s shocking report revealed the extent to which the manipulative Leeds broadcaster abused his position at the BBC, and the trust of his young fans, the Yorkshire Post has taken the decision to refrain from publishing images of the disgraced DJ.
“After all, this monster’s victims – the most important people of all – continue to be haunted by Savile from beyond the grave because there is no end to the revelations. Nor, too, do all those who were taken in by Savile’s depraved deceit and how he used his untouchable status to abuse the vulnerable and the impressionable with total impunity for decades.”
James, previously editor of The Star, Sheffield, was appointed to the Post’s editorship in December following a management reshuffle at parent company Johnston Press.
He said the BBC and other institutions now had a “moral duty” to review their safeguarding procedures to ensure “such a betrayal can never happen today.”
He continued: “Given many find it inconceivable that the corporation’s most senior executives were not aware of the scale of the cover-up that was taking place on their watch because of a culture of ‘reverence and fear’ towards so-called ‘celebrities’, the onus must be on the BBC to demonstrate that lessons have been learned. It can begin by demonstrating the robustness of its whistleblowing procedures.
“In the meantime, the priority for the Government, police and others is providing support to those victims who have come forward and those who might now have the courage to do so – a more enlightened approach to abuse allegations is about the only positive to emerge from this scandal, and those others, which have so appalled the nation.”
James’s decision to ban Savile’s picture from future editions of the YP carries echoes of a similar move by Spencer Feeney, then editor of Gloucester daily The Citizen following the 25 Cromwell Street case in the 1990s.
Following the trial and imprisonment of Rosemary West in 1995 for the murders of ten young women, Spencer decided there would be no further mention of the case in his paper on the grounds that local people were sick of hearing about it.
Dame Janet’s report found the BBC missed at least five chances to bring Savile to justice for his crimes because of a “culture of fear” at the corporation.
She said BBC culture “was deeply deferential” and staff were reluctant to speak to managers about complaints.