When I was a curate, working in Leeds, I quite often used to encounter Sir Jimmy Savile in Leeds General Infirmary, where he went about his duties as a hospital porter, and I went about mine as a priest.
Unlike many of the staff at the time, he would, without fail, greet me as we passed each other in the corridors, always with a greeting such as “afternoon Bishop” or some such remark.
My only other encounter, apart from these hospital visits, was on the occasion that I attended a conference on youth leadership at a hotel in Scarborough.
As the participants sat having their coffee after dinner one night, one of their number noticed Sir Jimmy passing the window outside.
It was generally agreed that we should ask Sir Jimmy in to speak to us, as we believed that he would know a fair amount about young people, through his involvement with Top of the Pops.
He was duly asked to come in to speak to us, and without hesitation responded to our invitation, sharing his various insights with us for about 40 minutes.
Those experiences of mine at Leeds and Scarborough, his involvement with Top of the Pops ad Jim’ll Fix It, and his various fundraising efforts on behalf of charities, were all I knew about Sir Jimmy until I heard about the sexual abuse accusations.
Let us remember they are only allegations, allegations that he has simply no chance of challenging, unlike a former Tory MP, recently falsely accused of paedophile activities, who has fiercely refuted such a charge.
This is what is so grossly unfair about the treatment of Sir Jimmy, both by the press and Scarborough Borough Council; he simply has no chance of refuting the allegations made against him.
It is only right that there should be a police enquiry into these matters.
Once that enquiry has been completed, and hopefully the truth has emerged, then, and only then, can a true assessment of Sir Jimmy’s life be made.