Savile’s civic honour revoked by council

Sir Jimmy Savile OBE - Freeman of the Borough of Scarborough receive their Honorary Freeman Badges at the Town Hall today. 071769r'in News   26/4/07    pic AH
Sir Jimmy Savile OBE - Freeman of the Borough of Scarborough receive their Honorary Freeman Badges at the Town Hall today. 071769r'in News 26/4/07 pic AH

Jimmy Savile’s status as a freeman of the borough was posthumously revoked during a meeting at Scarborough’s Town Hall.

Savile’s name will now be permanently removed from the honours board and all of Scarborough Council’s registers and accounts.

The unanimous vote to strip the disgraced TV star of the honour followed an impassioned speech by council leader Tom Fox.

Cllr Fox said since the revelations came out, he had been subjected to “continued abuse, insinuation and false allegations” with regards to Savile.

He said: “Reference has repeatedly been made to my role as a police officer working in the borough of Scarborough that I must have known that Jimmy Savile was a paedophile.

“I can categorically state that these rumours are without foundation, evidence of justification. I never encountered one single complaint about the conduct of Jimmy Savile.”

Cllr Fox made it clear that nobody knew about the star’s “dark side”, even the Queen, who gave him a knighthood, or the Pope, who gave him a papal knighthood.

He said: “An eccentric I certainly thought he was. An oddball I certainly thought he was. But a paedophile, sexual offender, or predator? I never had an inkling.”

Cllr Fox apologised to the mayor for raising his voice during the statement, saying he was had “a lot of anger and frustration about this”, adding there had been a “tissue of lies” on the subject.

He added: “When I found out about it I was abhorred. I was very quick to try and bring about this motion.”

Cllr Peter Popple, who proposed Savile for freeman of the borough status at the time, said: “I didn’t know he had a dark side.

“Savile made many friends here and gained the trust and friendship of many in this town, and he betrayed that trust and friendship with his dark side.

“I know ex-friends of his who were hurt by the worst sexual predator this country has known for years.”

Cllr David Billing quoted the words of Irish political philosopher Edmund Burke, saying: “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”

He said it should be “a lesson to us all” and encouraged people to play their part in preventing future victims by being vigilant about the signs of abuse.

Cllr David Jeffels, who was asked to lead a memorial group following the star’s death, also expressed his shock at the truth behind Savile’s public image.

He explained how a site had been earmarked near the lifeboat station for a statue of Savile, which would have cost up to £100,000.

A number of private pledges had been received and the project was ready to move forward.

Cllr Jeffels said: “People were very enthusiastic about it. No one had any indication or knowledge of his background.”

He also acknowledged and praised those who “came forward with great courage to speak about the abuse they had to suffer.”

Savile also hit the headlines again on Saturday after the BBC published transcripts of its own enquiry.

Critics attacked the organisation over its transparency as many comments in the report had been blacked out “for legal reasons”. Around 3,000 pages of emails, interviews and submissions have been published online.