Revealed: Police advised not to take action against ex-Scarborough mayor Jaconelli over 1972 ‘indecent assault’

Prosecutors advised police not to take action against Peter Jaconelli in 1972 after being passed a file about an alleged indecent assault by the former Scarborough mayor, it was revealed today.
Peter JaconelliPeter Jaconelli
Peter Jaconelli

Jaconelli, who would be facing allegations of child sex abuse if he was still alive, was alleged to have indecently assaulted a Spanish man more than four decades ago, according to North Yorkshire Police.

But it has emerged that the predecessor to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), the Department of Public Prosecutions, advised that no action should be taken against the ice cream magnate, who died aged 73 in 1999.

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An investigation by North Yorkshire Police into Jaconelli revealed last year that he would have faced a string of charges relating to abuse in Scarborough between 1958 and 1998 if he was still alive.

Jaconelli and his friend, disgraced Leeds-born DJ Jimmy Savile, were suspected of being involved in the abuse of 35 young victims as part of a paedophile ring operating in the resort but cheated justice.

The revelation that police were aware of an alleged indecent assault in 1972 was made in a response by the CPS last month to local journalist Nigel Ward of the North Yorkshire Enquirer after a request made under the Freedom of Information Act.

At that point, the CPS said that “a case file relating to Peter Jaconelli, charged with indecent assault, was sent to the DPP’s Office in 1972”.

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But in a statement released to The Yorkshire Post, North Yorkshire Police said that on the basis of advice by prosecutors “the indication is that Jaconelli was not charged with an offence in relation to this submission”.

Assistant chief constable Paul Kennedy said: “The new information brought to our attention via archived public prosecution records is welcomed by North Yorkshire Police.

“It has provided fresh opportunities to establish a fuller picture of Peter Jaconelli’s alleged offending, specifically relating to an archived record from 1972 currently held by the CPS and originated from the former Department of Public Prosecutions (DPP) office which pre-dated the formation of the CPS in 1986.

“With assistance from the CPS, it has been established that this archived record suggests the former DPP’s Office received a police submission regarding Jaconelli on 31 August 1972 which was subsequently registered on 4 September 1972.

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“The record indicates that the police force area which made the submission was at that time known as York and North East Yorkshire Police, which today is made up of three police force areas, namely North Yorkshire, Humberside and Cleveland Police.

“The submission related to an indecent assault on a Spanish man by the then 46-year-old Jaconelli, who is noted on the record as a councillor, member of the Scarborough Crime Prevention Committee and former Mayor of Scarborough.

“However, the record shows the former DPP’s Office ‘advised no action’ against Jaconelli on 10 October 1972. The indication is that Jaconelli was not charged with an offence in relation to this submission.

“The available information is very limited and work is ongoing to establish the full facts if at all possible, but this is certainly an important piece of information to help gain a better understanding of Jaconelli and the way the authorities, including the police, handled cases at that time.

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“North Yorkshire Police is also conducting a review of paper records relating to crime investigations. This programme of work commenced in April 2013 and is estimated to be completed by November 2016.”

Dozens of victims came forward to report historic sexual abuse by Jaconelli and Savile after the broadcast of the TV documentary Inside Out.

After launching an investigation into the abuse, dubbed Operation Hibiscus, North Yorkshire Police apologised to victims for missing opportunities to stop the abuse, but made no mention of Jaconelli being charged with any offence.

In his statement today about the 1972 case, Mr Kennedy added: “To put it into context, this was a period that pre-dated the Crown Prosecution Service as well as North Yorkshire Police, which was established two years later in 1974.

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“This highlights the inherent and ongoing difficulties we face to locate historic information to support current investigations into allegations stemming from more than 40 years ago.

“For the first phase of Operation Hibiscus, we had to adjust the investigation parameters accordingly and concentrate our time and resources on the active lines of enquiry provided by the 35 victims who came forward with historic sexual abuse allegations against Jaconelli and Jimmy Savile.

“We are therefore grateful for the new information to further target our efforts to seek out and support victims of Jaconelli, Jimmy Savile and any others who abused young people in the Scarborough area or elsewhere.

“As I stated in December last year when the initial Operation Hibiscus findings were publicised, the investigation will remain open and any new lines of enquiry will be pursued.

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“It is never too late to report information to the police as well as seek the professional help and support that is readily available to victims. Nobody should suffer in silence.”

The Crown Prosecution Service was formed in 1986 under the direction of the Director of Public Prosecutions, consisting of a merger of his old department with the existing police prosecution departments.

Prior to this, police forces were responsible for the bulk of prosecutions, with only the most difficult cases passed to the DPP.

North Yorkshire Police was formed in 1974, before which the area was policed by the York and North East Yorkshire Police, which covered the North Riding of Yorkshire, the East Riding of Yorkshire and the county borough of York.