Pedophile did ‘ward rounds’ at NHS hospital to find young girls to abuse
Staff knew of but did nothing because they wanted his money
Stoke Mandeville hospital is under pressure to set up an inquiry after it was claimed that nurses knew Sir Jimmy Savile went on “ward rounds” to find young patients to abuse.
Staff at the Buckinghamshire hospital were said to have told girls on the children’s ward to “pretend to be asleep” during his visits.
As the scandal continued to grow on Wednesday, it emerged that nine police forces, from Tayside and Cleveland down to Surrey and Jersey, have received reports of sex abuse involving Savile.
A former patient at Stoke Mandeville, Rebecca Owen, told BBC News on Wednesday night that nurses at the hospital knew about his behaviour and did not welcome his visits.
He began volunteering as a porter there in the 1970s and had free use of a flat on site while he helped to raise £40 million for its spinal injuries centre.
Ms Owen said she heard a conversation between nurses in which they implied Savile also targeted them. “It was an air of resignation that you had to put up with,” she said. “There was some sort of ironic chatter between the nurses about who would be the lucky one to go off to his room. And then, as one of the nurses was leaving or passing by my bed, she leant over and said the best thing you can do is stay in bed until he’s gone and pretend to be asleep.”
It has also been claimed that Savile kissed two underage girls when they were recovering in a children’s ward, and fondled a nine-year-old boy in his Rolls-Royce at a fund-raising event.
He was once found backstage at the BBC with a 14-year-old girl who was recovering from cancer, it has been reported, while another woman claimed he tried to “groom” her for abuse following a choir performance at Stoke Mandeville.
Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust, which runs the hospital, has insisted it never received any complaints about Savile. A spokesman said the trust was “shocked” to hear of the allegations.
“We are unaware of any record or reports of inappropriate behaviour of this nature during Jimmy’s work with the trust,” he said. “We can confirm that the police have contacted us as part of their assessment exercise and we are co-operating with them.”
The Jimmy Savile Charitable Trust, which is still based at the hospital, is considering renaming Jimmy’s Café on the site. Sylvia Nicol, a trustee, said: “I feel bereaved and just so unhappy.”
The BBC has faced accusations of a cover-up since the claims started emerging last week. Senior figures insisted that no one knew about Savile’s behaviour.
Eroding NHS maternity care
I am pregnant. I have found how low down the NHS’s love list pregnant women tend to come. Essentially, you’re there at the bottom, hanging out with MRSA and hoping that someone – anyone – will find time to explain the “benefits” to you of a home birth over a hospital one, or whether your baby is at risk of Down’s syndrome.
I’ll tell you how little the health of pregnant women – and more importantly, their babies – seems to matter to anyone at all: over the past week, I have read countless tweets, blog posts and articles about what a monster and a misogynist Jeremy Hunt is for believing that the abortion limit should be brought down to 12 weeks, but not a single outraged response to this newspaper’s revelations that wards in a fifth of hospitals are at risk of being axed, many of them maternity units. In my mind, this is just as big an act of misogyny by the powers that be, but in the hysteria that surrounds the abortion debate, every other women’s issue drops to the bottom of the pile.
Was it morning sickness I experienced when Hunt let his thoughts be known, or plain old nausea? I don’t agree with the man one jot, but I also recognise that his personal views are about as likely to have any legislative effect as I am to give birth to a dodo. And perhaps that is what stuck in my throat – it’s all this screaming and shouting about things that are never going to happen, while every day women experience really poor health care because there simply aren’t enough midwives employed by the NHS.
Anyone who is passionately pro-choice should be kicking up a stink about the proposals to close or downgrade one in nine consultant-led maternity wards in England, thus removing many women’s right to choose to give birth in a hospital, with doctors present. Instead, much cheaper midwife-led units are suggested, the argument being that women who attend them are less likely to end up needing epidurals and caesareans (a moot point, given that these places can’t actually provide either service).
We should be angrier that 3,000 midwives were promised by David Cameron in his election campaign, but only 900 have actually been delivered since the Coalition came to power. We should be furious that tales of maternity units closing their doors to women are all too commonplace, with the NHS watchdog warning in June that maternity care is “emerging as a problem area for a number of NHS Trusts, due to midwife numbers not increasing in line with demand and an increase in complex births, owing to risk factors such as maternal age, weight and co-morbidity”. Ladies, why are we not getting hysterical about this?
I hear all these tales of two-hour waits for routine ante-natal blood tests, and grouchy midwives. A friend told me about her three-day labour, which involved several different midwives, the final woman so exhausted as she came off a long shift that she cut the baby’s cord instead of clamping it. My own experiences of maternity care so far have been a mixed bag, my GP’s first question to me not being “How are you feeling?”, but a growl of “Do you want to keep it?”
Yes, I did want to keep it, I replied, though I wonder now if I would have been treated with more interest and compassion had I decided otherwise. He scribbled me out a prescription for something I later discovered you shouldn’t take before the second trimester, and told me he would send a letter to the hospital, who would then be in touch with me. They never were – it turned out the GP surgery had forgotten to complete my referral.
On the advice of the hospital’s maternity unit, who had clearly heard of forgetful GPs before, I filled out the complicated medical form myself. When I started bleeding a few weeks later, I didn’t bother troubling my GP with any fears that I might be miscarrying – instead, my boyfriend insisted we went straight to A&E, where I was seen within half an hour, put on a drip, and given the next available appointment at the hospital’s Early Pregnancy Unit (EPU) for an emergency scan. And it was there, under the kind watch of clearly over-worked staff, that I saw my baby’s heartbeat for the first time.
They were brilliant, really they were. What would we have done without them? A rhetorical question for us, but all too real for future mothers-to-be. I have just learnt that the EPU in question is one of the many across the country that faces the axe. Another little erosion of a woman’s basic right to health care.
Thousands more British graduates forced to accept menial jobs as bosses demand degrees for low-skilled work
Tens of thousands of graduates are accepting menial jobs as rising numbers of bosses demand degrees for low-skilled work, a report has found.
The expansion of higher education has led to employers requiring degrees for jobs that would once have been snapped up by those with few qualifications, according to the Higher Education Careers Services Unit.
Researchers tracked graduates who left university last summer and analysed how many were in graduate and non-graduate roles six months on.
They found a six per cent increase in the numbers taking non-graduate jobs, from 57,910 last year to 61,395. Roles included classroom assistants and junior clerical workers.
However the numbers finding graduate jobs – which range from senior management to graphic designers – only rose 4.2 per cent, from 100,265 to 104,455.
The report said the increase in graduates in lower-skilled roles was partly down to the gradual rise in the overall numbers being churned out by universities.
This was leading to ‘credentialism’, where employers over-emphasise the importance of degrees.
However the report said it was still better to be a graduate than not. ‘Graduates earn more over time than non-graduates, and are less likely to be unemployed the longer they have been out of education,’ said the report, titled What Graduates Do.
‘Although graduates may begin in non-graduate level employment six months after graduation, they move up the ladder relatively quickly, often within months.’
The report found that the overall employment rate for recent graduates dipped slightly compared with last year, with 61.8 per cent in work agains 62.2 per cent of the class of 2010. The unemployment rate rose slightly, from 8.5 per cent to 8.6 per cent, while most of the rest were in further study.
More graduates were classed as being self-employed.
Salaries remained consistent, with the average salary for graduates employed full-time recorded as £19,935.
The figures show a revival in the engineering and IT job markets but the continuing impact of public sector cuts.
Fewer graduates went into admin jobs in health and education and there are also fewer front-line jobs such as occupational therapists, physiotherapists, medical radiographers, secondary and primary school teachers, probation officers and social workers.
Charlie Ball, deputy research director at HECSU, said: ‘When graduates from 2011 left university, the labour market was difficult, as the UK economy struggled with negative growth and a dip back into recession.
‘In spite of this and the trouble in the Eurozone, over 166,000 of last year’s graduates were known to be working in the UK six months after leaving university – nearly 8,000 more than the previous year.
‘Many of the jobs created during the recession have been with smaller firms and therefore, when looking for vacancies, graduates should not just focus on large organisations but widen their search, taking advantage of local information, careers services and informal contacts.
‘The figures show that even in difficult times, graduates can and do get jobs. Students need to prepare for a difficult jobs market, but there are opportunities out there, so don’t give up hope.’
A cesspit: BBC Chairman’s damning verdict on Savile abuse scandal and the cover-up by TV bosses
The Jimmy Savile scandal was branded a ‘cesspit’ yesterday by the BBC’s own chairman. Lord Patten admitted that heads could roll if corporation bosses were found to have acted improperly. He said he feared that the television and radio star may have been helped in his sordid sexual exploitation of teenage girls by other BBC employees.
Lord Patten also suggested the BBC was likely to broadcast a prime-time apology if the inquiries into Savile came back with damning findings.
Yesterday the former Tory MP asked director-general George Entwistle to review the corporation’s guidelines on child protection following what he called the ‘appalling’ allegations of sexual abuse against Savile.
He also said an independent inquiry at the BBC, supervised by an outside figure, should be started as swiftly as possible following a police investigation into Savile’s activities.
Former patients at Stoke Mandeville hospital in Buckinghamshire and another in Leeds yesterday claimed they had been assaulted during visits by Savile in the 1970s and 1980s.
Teenagers in wheelchairs and others recovering from cancer were among those said to have fallen victim to the DJ.
One claimed nurses told young patients to pretend to be asleep whenever the star visited their wards.
And in Scarborough, North Yorkshire, his elaborate tombstone was removed from a cemetery at midnight out of respect for ‘public opinion’.
Police have said they believe Savile was a ‘predatory sex offender’ who could have abused up to 30 victims over a period of more than 40 years beginning in 1959.
Lord Patten and others at the BBC are still struggling to explain who knew what and when about the decision to drop a Newsnight investigation into allegations against Savile.
On Sunday former director-general Mark Thompson, who left his post last month, said he had never heard any rumours or received any complaints or allegations about Savile when he was in charge.
But yesterday Lord Patten – who said he himself first heard about the Savile allegations less than two weeks ago when he read about them in a newspaper – insisted said Mr Thompson had been made aware of the Newsnight investigation last December by director of news Helen Boaden. When asked to confirm that the former director-general knew about the investigation, he said: ‘Yes’.
His comments were later retracted by the BBC Trust, which said he ‘misspoke’ on the matter.
When asked if he was convinced there were not others taking part or helping Savile with these type of activities at the BBC, Lord Patten said: ‘No’.
He also said that bosses could lose their jobs if they were found guilty of impropriety over their handling of the issue.
Addressing a Broadcasting Press Guild lunch yesterday, Lord Patten began with the words: ‘I would like to say one or two things about the appalling allegations and the cesspit of the Jimmy Saville allegations.’
But later there were tough questions for him to answer about how current BBC director-general George Enwistle could oversee the organising the independent inquiry when he was one of the executives facing questions about what he knew.
Mr Entwistle was one of the executives who were told about the Newsnight investigation into Savile last year, although it is denied he knew the exact nature of the allegations.
There had been criticism that the BBC had ditched the investigation on its Newsnight programme late last year because it would have run counter to other celebratory shows about the once popular presenter which were then being prepared for broadcast.
But Lord Patten said yesterday the editor of Newsnight was ‘not leaned on’, and no BBC executives had intervened.
Earlier this week Mr Entwistle made an apology to Savile’s victims during an interview on Radio 4’s Today programme and said there would be an inquiry to follow the police investigation.
Lord Patten said yesterday: ‘The BBC has in place child protection policies, processes, guidance for us by all staff on and off the premises and independents making programmes for the BBC.
‘We’ve asked the director-general to assure us that those policies are up to date and fit for purpose that they’re effective in protecting minors and under-age children.
‘We’ve also said that we want to be satisfied on the arrangements in place for dealing with sexual harassment, bullying and whistleblowing and we want to be sure that those guidelines that do exist are gold standard and up to date and comply with current best practice.’
Lord Patten suggested that the internal inquiry will not look at the editorial decision by Newsnight, saying he did not want to question the ‘journalistic integrity’ of people.
But insiders admitted yesterday that it is likely to look at what bosses did with the information contained within it when they were made aware of the allegations.
Asked what would happen if any current BBC employees such as the director general and other executives were found to have acted improperly, Lord Patten said: ‘You would not expect any employee of a newspaper or the BBC to survive if her or she was found to have behaved improperly.’
He said he was sure the BBC inquiry will look into allegations made by other presenters such as Liz Kershaw, who revealed she was groped by a colleague while she was on air.
Scotland Yard has formally recorded eight criminal allegations – two rapes and six indecent assaults – against the former Top Of The Pops presenter so far in its Operation Yewtree investigation.
And Greater Manchester and Tayside Police became the latest forces to receive complaints of abuse by Savile, who died in October last year. Greater Manchester Police said allegations about his activities have followed day after day following an ITV documentary which aired last week.
Jimmy Savile is today lying in an unmarked grave after a dead-of-night operation to remove his £4,000 headstone at the request of his family.
Undertakers worked in the dark to rip out the giant memorial and have said it will ‘be broken up, placed in a skip and used as landfill’.
Signs of the times: British deaf people drop hand signals that use slanted eyes to describe the Chinese and a limp wrist for gays
Pressure to avoid offending minorities has caught up with Britain’s 150,000 users of sign language for the deaf, according to a Government-funded report.
It found that younger deaf people have changed the way they give the sign to say someone is gay, or to describe Chinese, French and Jewish people.
The old gesture that meant gay – a flicked limp wrist – is now considered offensive among some users of British Sign Language, researchers at University College London said.
Similarly it is no longer acceptable among politically correct deaf people to give a slanted eye sign to indicate something Chinese, nor to mime a hooked nose to mean a Jewish person.
Over three years, scientists at the Deafness Cognition and Language Research Centre at UCL filmed the signs for more than 100 words used by 250 people in eight cities.
Centre director Professor Bencie Woll said: ‘The younger deaf community doesn’t use these old signs because of a clear process of political correctness, in the same way that the hearing community no longer calls gay people “pansies” or “queer”.’
Young deaf people have also dropped the sign of twirling an imaginary moustache for France, said the researchers.
They sign a gay person with an upright thumb on one hand in the palm of the other, wobbling from side to side, and India is signed using the triangular shape of the subcontinent.
Professor Bencie Woll, director of DCal, said that the changes to sign language were much like the changes to spoken English
She said the change in sign language has been faster because when signers began to communicate over the internet they could see for the first time how ‘foreign signers referred to themselves’.
She told the Guardian: ‘The younger deaf community doesn’t use these old signs because of a clear process of political correctness, in the same way that the hearing community no longer calls gay people ‘pansies’ or ‘queer’,’ she said.
‘But what the hearing community doesn’t understand about sign language is that even though the traditional signs are now considered offensive, they are not producing a real-life insult when they are used because they are not just visual representations of a concept.’
The revelation follows a study by the British Sign Language Corpus Project which has been studying how deaf people use sign language.
They have filmed and interviewed 249 deaf people from eight cities across the UK.
Dr Kearsy Cormier, who was in charge of the three and a half year project, hopes that deaf children will benefit from the findings.
She said it would give deaf people a better understanding of regional variations in sign language. An online dictionary is expected to be created following the research.
However, there are concerns among the deaf community about these changing signs and new political correctness.
Gwilym Morris, from the deafness cognition and language research centre (DCal) at University College London, told the newspaper: ‘We are nervous about this being seen as another example of political correctness because the changes are more about evolution rather than dictat of some body that approves language.’
Those who took part in the survey, which was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, were filmed in pairs and had to recount a personal experience, engage in a 30 minute conversation and participate in an interview on language awareness and attitudes.
They also had to elicit 102 signs known to vary across the UK.
Actress’s obsessed female stalker who sent her messages saying she would be raped is jailed
There is a general view that personal threats of violence are not protected free speech
Holby City star Rosie Marcel was told she would be raped and killed in a campaign of intimidation and abuse by a super-fan.
Sarah Rumbelow, 21, has been jailed for two and a half years after she sent hateful emails, tweets, messages and letters to Miss Marcel, who plays surgeon Jac Naylor in the BBC drama.
Rumbelow was completely obsessed with the pretty actress and spent almost a year abusing her in 2011.
To cover her tracks she set up bogus e-mail addresses from where she sent many sick messages.
But after the terrified star called in the police detectives were able to establish Rumbelow was behind them.
The 21-year-old, of Brockley, London pleaded guilty at St Albans Crown Court to putting a person in fear of violence by harassment.