'Sexual predator' Savile abused children as young as eight

Late BBC presenter Jimmy Savile was a predatory sex offender who abused children as young as eight over more than 50 years, using his fame and eccentricity to hide "in plain sight", British police said today.

A three-month investigation with child protection experts found that Savile, one of the biggest TV stars in Britain in the 1970s and 1980s, took every opportunity to abuse young girls, boys and adult women across the country.

He used his fame as presenter of BBC TV's "Top of the Pops" chart show and children's programme "Jim'll Fix It" to rape and assault victims on BBC premises as well as in schools and hospitals, where he was welcomed by his fans.

The scandal has thrown the BBC into crisis although police said today that the world's biggest public broadcaster should not shoulder the blame for his abuse.

"It is clear that Savile cunningly built his entire life's work around gaining access to vulnerable children in order to carry out his abuse," said Peter Watt of the NSPCC children's charity, which worked with Scotland Yard.

"He hid in plain sight behind a veil of eccentricity, double-bluffing those who challenged him," Watt said.

David Gray, head of Scotland Yard's paedophile unit, said Savile "spent every moment of every waking day thinking about it, and whenever an opportunity came along, he took it".

The investigation report was published as Britain's top prosecutor admitted that action could have been taken over three allegations made against Savile in 2009 if police had taken the victims more seriously.

Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer apologised but outlined changes to how the authorities dealt with sexual abuse cases, saying he hoped the Savile case would be seen as a "watershed moment".

Savile, who died in October 2011 at the age of 84, was a hugely popular but eccentric figure, famed for his shock of white hair, tracksuits and chunky gold jewellery. He was knighted in 1990.

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