Savile scandal spreads to doctors
Widening net ... police investigating the Jimmy Savile scandal have been given details of doctors who may have been implicated. Photo: AP
LONDON: British detectives investigating the Jimmy Savile scandal have been passed details of three doctors who are alleged to have abused young people in their care.
The doctors, identified by victims who have come forward in the last fortnight, worked at hospitals where Savile had links over several decades. The former DJ had an office and living quarters in the high security psychiatric hospital Broadmoor, a bedroom in the Stoke Mandeville spinal injuries hospital, and was given free rein at Leeds general infirmary.
It is understood the names of at least three doctors have been passed to police investigating living individuals over claims that they were at the centre of a loose network of child abusers connected with Savile.
Detectives have not found evidence of a paedophile ring – involving the organised procurement of children for others – but are examining individuals who might have had access to vulnerable children, some of whom were associated with Savile.
Stoke Mandeville was at the centre of a child sex abuse scandal in the late 1980s when a consultant paediatrician was investigated after a whistleblower came forward to the health authority.
Dr Michael Salmon, a consultant paediatrician at the Aylesbury hospital, was suspended in 1989 after an investigation by government auditors prompted by concerns about possible financial improprieties. During the inquiry investigators found evidence relating to teenage patients of Salmon and a criminal investigation was launched.
Salmon was jailed for three years in 1990 after admitting indecent assaults on two 13-year-old girls and a 16-year-old girl. Three years earlier he had been praised by Diana, Princess of Wales, for helping to organise a trip to Walt Disney World in Florida for 300 disabled children. He was struck off the medical register in 1991.
Raymond Brown, who worked as a consultant paediatrician with Salmon, said he would have known Savile because everyone at the hospital knew him. Savile, who raised £40 million for Stoke Mandeville, had boasted that he "lived" in a bedroom hospital managers had given him and could do as he pleased.
"We all knew [Savile] because he was such a presence at Stoke Mandeville," said Dr Brown. "I personally had no inkling about Savile's behaviour. This has all been as much as a surprise to me as anyone else.
"He wasn't a person I was mad about but he was a philanthropist and he was responsible for getting an enormous amount of money for the hospital. He would come into the wards, and I never saw a problem with him doing so – all the doctors knew him. I am absolutely shocked by all of this."
Dr Brown said he had had no contact with Salmon since he was sacked and struck off the medical register. Salmon could not be contacted.
The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children said it had received 161 calls directly relating to allegations against Savile, which it had passed to police. The charity has also passed 24 allegations of abuse by others to Scotland Yard.
Peter Saunders, of the National Association for People abused in Childhood, said it had been contacted by 35 alleged victims directly accusing Savile or other people close to him.
The development comes as the director of public prosecutions announced he was to review the original police file sent to the Crown Prosecution Service alleging child abuse by Savile. Keir Starmer will investigate why the Crown took the decision not to prosecute over allegations in 2009.
He has also asked to speak to the attorney-general, Dominic Grieve, about whether the prosecutor should start referring Savile sex abuse cases to other relevant agencies, including social services, where the evidence is not deemed strong enough for a criminal prosecution.
At the time the prosecutor advised the police that no further action should be taken because of lack of evidence against the BBC star, who was still alive. Savile died in October 2011.
The Prime Minister, David Cameron, said during Prime Minister's questions in the House of Commons that the DPP had ordered a review of the evidence considered by the Crown Prosecution Service in 2009 relating to indecent assault allegations against Savile from the 1970s. The evidence was submitted by Surrey police, who began an investigation in 2007. In a brief statement on the scandal, the Prime Minister said he did not rule out further inquiries into the BBC, hospitals and other establishments where Savile is said to have abused vulnerable children.
"The government will do everything it can do, other institutions must do what they can do, to make sure that we learn the lesson of this and it can never happen again," Mr Cameron said.
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