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New editor bans Jimmy Savile photos from regional daily

Jimmy SavileA recently-appointed regional daily editor has banned any photographs of Jimmy Savile from being printed in future editions of the newspaper.

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.

41 comments

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  • February 26, 2016 at 10:51 am
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    It is unfortunate that Savile never lived to have the allegations against him proved in court and, if found guilty, suffered the appropriate penalty.
    All we are left with is a presumption of guilt, with an overwhelming amount of allegations and evidence that can never be tested in a criminal court. That must be hugely frustrating for so many people.

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  • February 26, 2016 at 10:53 am
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    Sorry, but this is a ridiculous decision for an editor to take. Inevitably, there will be stories about Savile in the future….and just how does the Yorkshire Post plan to illustrate those stories?
    The problem with well-meaning gestures like this is that they unravel almost immediately. Imagine an edition of this newspaper in which a photo of, say, Hitler or Stalin is published, but NOT a pic of Jimmy Savile because that would be to upsetting to people. Savile more reviled than Hitler?! Yes it seems daft when you put it like that, doesn’t it.
    People are a lot tougher than the YP’s editor seems to believe. He’s made a rule here which will leave his own staff hamstrung and the readers baffled.

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  • February 26, 2016 at 10:55 am
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    Judging the illustration to this article, I take it that HTFP doesn’t agree with Mr Mitchinson’s self-righteous posturing?

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  • February 26, 2016 at 11:27 am
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    Begs the question how bad do you have to be to be banned?
    What about other local-lad-done-bad Peter Sutcliffe?

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  • February 26, 2016 at 11:34 am
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    It’s an absurd decision and it’s not a “haunting image” to “most people” any more than any image of a nasty abusive criminal. But why stop at photos? The logical next step, of course, is to not report Savile cases. Maybe best not report child abuse in general. Or rapes or murders for that matter. Mind you, people can get pretty upset by being burgled too…

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  • February 26, 2016 at 11:37 am
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    Sorry, I fail to see the logic. Will he banning Moors murderer Ian Brady who was ‘close to death’ before Christmas?

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  • February 26, 2016 at 11:39 am
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    This is a bit of a silly billy OTT reaction.
    Should papers also ban pix of Hitler, Stalin, Vlad the Impaler, Stuart Hall, Christie, Crippen, Dr H. Shipman, Rolf Harris, Myra Hindley and many, many more?
    We work in NEWSpapers, and radio and TV news so where do we draw lines?

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  • February 26, 2016 at 12:24 pm
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    OldCynic, I see it less as a well-meaning gesture and more of a self-serving PR stunt. It’s a ridiculous, immature decision. Yes of course he was a monster, but as you point out so is Hitler. And Ian Huntley. And Stuart Hall etc etc.

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  • February 26, 2016 at 12:29 pm
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    Rather silly and naive public posturing. Why can’t he just quietly ask his staff not to use a Savile picture if at all possible?

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  • February 26, 2016 at 12:37 pm
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    It seems a ridiculous and almost gimmicky decision by an inexperienced editor keen to make his mark.

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  • February 26, 2016 at 12:46 pm
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    Completely silly decision. People are repulsed because of the things he did. Are you going to ban any mention of the things he did?

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  • February 26, 2016 at 12:54 pm
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    Is it me, or does James’s editorial not actually make sense? I’ve had to read one of the paragraphs about five times and I still can’t make it work.

    Oh, and this is a stupid decision.

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  • February 26, 2016 at 1:39 pm
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    Yes Charles.
    This par needs a rewrite to make sense:
    “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.”

    And I agree – it’s a stupid decision.

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  • February 26, 2016 at 3:02 pm
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    Some victims may also find it distasteful that a new editor trying to make a mark chooses this way of raising his profile. It all feels a bit ‘student newspaper’.

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  • February 26, 2016 at 3:17 pm
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    Yorkshire Post 26,125 -10.8%
    Speaks for itself. And a daft idea.
    How about a Tyrant of the Week competition and banning him/her from the Yorkshire Post? First prize is a week in North Korea. Second prize two weeks in North Korea.

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  • February 26, 2016 at 3:45 pm
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    I would suggest that the image of Maggie Thatcher strikes more fear into many people in Yorkshire – particularly those in the former mining communities.

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  • February 26, 2016 at 4:10 pm
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    Not a mature decision. Should return to reporting for a refresher.

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  • February 26, 2016 at 4:51 pm
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    What a silly decision. The logic of that decision is that you shld then ban stories that might upset people. Sometimes we please people, other times we upset them. That’s journalistic life.

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  • February 26, 2016 at 5:09 pm
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    Oh dear. A seriously poor decision by an editor. Censorship comes to mind. I assume he also has a ban on photos to accompany any articles on Hitler, Yorkshire Ripper and a whole host of other undesirables?

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  • February 26, 2016 at 5:33 pm
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    This sort of ill-thought out stance that will cause real problems. I hope, for instance, that the YP will not make the hypocritical decision to use pictures of the jailed Rotherham CSE gang tomorrow.

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  • February 26, 2016 at 6:03 pm
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    Daft decision and a sad indictment of current editing standards.

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  • February 26, 2016 at 6:03 pm
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    A ridiculous and pointless decision. Why not go the whole hog and not mention Savile’s name at all?
    I can’t understand the editor’s motives. Unless of course he wants to ensure a blaze of publicity to start his new job. Just a silly kneejerk reaction.

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  • February 26, 2016 at 7:58 pm
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    Once upon a time the Yorkshire Post was a serious paper with serious editors.

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  • February 26, 2016 at 8:10 pm
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    Good decision. Ordinary readers are totally sick of seeing Savile. especially on the BBC which shows no shame in its role in this whole affair. The BBC could have stopped him years ago. They choose not to.
    Shameful.

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  • February 27, 2016 at 7:20 am
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    I wonder what a poll of his victims would reveal. Personally I don’t agree with this decision.
    Newspapers have a moral duty to report on such stories, in full. I would guess that most victims would be comforted in the knowledge that the rest of us are prepared to face these issues, not brush them under the carpet.

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  • February 27, 2016 at 11:01 am
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    Not only an incredibly silly decision but also a dangerous one in the context of free speech/censorship.. The editor’s decision can also be seen as extremely patronising and even insulting to his (shrinking) readership.

    I particularly like the comments which speak of student union politics. It is surely no accident that this foolish move by the YP editor follows so many recent attempts to stifle free speech on canvas. His move is very much in line with the creation of ‘safe spaces’, to which people can retreat and have no fear of being faced with challenging views or situations.

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  • February 27, 2016 at 11:03 am
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    Sorry – for canvas please read campus in the third line of the second paragraph of my post.

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  • February 27, 2016 at 12:32 pm
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    Some might say that Mr Mitchinson might have been looking for a headline but editorially this is one of the most bonkers things I’ve ever heard. When Ann Maguire was stabbed in his class in Leeds, the YP used a pic of her murderer Will Cornick when they were legally allowed to do so. Seems a very naive decision. I’d be interested to see how they illustrate Savile stories going forward. I bet this will be quietly dropped.

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  • February 28, 2016 at 2:34 pm
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    Sure, make a name for yourself. But try to do it with fresh ideas and a flash of brilliance that will give you deserved credit.
    Don’t do it with idiotic gestures like this.
    That’s not journalism.

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  • February 28, 2016 at 2:36 pm
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    And the Editor is how old………………….

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  • February 28, 2016 at 9:18 pm
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    That’ll show him!

    Maybe we should ban pictures of Hitler too.

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  • February 29, 2016 at 7:47 am
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    Headline-grabbing decision. Can’t agree with it. Don’t become the story, Editor

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  • February 29, 2016 at 8:56 am
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    Big deal. The Night Editors of all the nationals in Scotland banned photos of Thomas Hamilton after Dunblane.

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  • February 29, 2016 at 9:41 am
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    I don’t think James’ decision has come across well because of the slightly OTT nature of his defence – but surely most in the business would accept his point that any future coverage of the JS fallout simply does not need another look at his ugly mug.

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  • February 29, 2016 at 11:59 am
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    It’s an interesting decision. In one sense I admire his conviction, in another it’s clearly a decision made based on his own feelings about Saville. On balance I’d say it’s inappropriate for him to presume that readers will be as disgusted by the sight of the man as much as he is.

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  • February 29, 2016 at 2:28 pm
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    To paraphrase James’ justification….”many victims’ families are so repulsed by the sight of the predatory killer, Peter Sutcliffe,, known as the Yorkshire Ripper, that they do not deserve gratuitous reminders of the haunting image and the sickening memories it brings back.” And presumably this equally applies to those Yorkshire guys involved in the 7/7 bombings. Where do you stop?

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  • February 29, 2016 at 4:23 pm
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    Stupid decision. I’m sure that the victims of Savile will forever be haunted by his actions. I don’t think a regional daily banning use of his photo will offer many crumbs of comfort.
    Perhaps the YP shouldn’t have photos of other local criminals such as Peter Sutcliffe, Donald Neilson, Shannon Matthews’ mother etc etc.

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  • February 29, 2016 at 5:06 pm
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    I take it that Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Papa Doc, Saddam, Mussolini, Hirohito and Bokassa are also on the YP’s ‘banned’ list along with Dr Crippen, Harry Roberts, John Halliday Christie and the poisoner Graham Young.
    Personally, I’d prefer the editor to ban Stephen Fry, Jonathan Ross, Victoria Beckham, Chris Evans, Piers Morgan, Hugh Grant, Steve Coogan, Jeremy Clarkson, Kim Kardashian, Kanye West, Cheryl Whatshername and several other ‘celebrities’ whose images I find deeply offensive.
    Savile was, indeed, a nauseating creature, but all the above also compel me to reach for the bucket and heave.
    I expect this to be raised at tomorrow’s YP editorial conference.

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  • March 1, 2016 at 8:38 am
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    The more I think about this, I wonder: is the rather disquieting logic that because Savile was a celebrity abuser, his victims are in some way celebrity victims who feel their pain more than someone abused by an unknown nonentity…whose picture the editor would have no problem with running?

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