Jimmy Savile is lying in an unmarked grave after his family requested the removal of his £4,000 headstone in a night-time operation overseen by the police.
The family decided to remove the memorial “out of respect for public opinion” as the police revealed they were investigating 120 lines of inquiry over sexual abuse by the star spanning just over four decades.
Scarborough borough council said work at the Woodlands Cemetery started shortly after midnight on Tuesday as the graveyard was put under police guard for the operation.
They spent two hours digging up the grave and removing the 4ft triple headstone, the plinth and the foundations which bore the epitaph “It was good while it lasted” in gothic lettering. The granite stones will have their inscription ground off, be broken up and used as a landfill, said funeral director Robert Morphet, who oversaw the operation.
Fearing the event would turn into a media circus, the Savile family gave Morphet a free hand to carry out what he called a “discreet” operation.
The team worked under floodlights, piling the black granite into a truck and placing the flowers, which have not been refreshed since the allegations broke, on the patch of bare earth.
“We started just after 11pm and finished going on 1am. We were concerned about the amount of people who might turn up if we left it until morning,” Morphet said.
“We decided it was going to be done before then and brought our own lights and generators. The grave will now be ground down so the inscription is totally wiped and will be destroyed. It will be broken up, placed in a skip and used as landfill.
“For the foreseeable future the grave will remain unmarked. The family will decide at some future point about what to do.” But it was not yet clear what – if any – memorial would replace the 4ft high by 6ft wide triple headstone, which was unveiled on 20 September and spanned three plots.
“It is down to the family,” Morphet added. No family were present – only police, a team of four undertakers, and the cemetery authorities.
Savile’s family were informed what had happened by email at 3.40am but they have not so far responded.
“There were no family present. They did not know we were going to do it in the night. But we wanted it to be discreet,” Morphet said.
A statement issued by the Savile family said: “The family members are deeply aware of the impact that the stone remaining there could have on the dignity and sanctity of the cemetery.
“Out of respect to public opinion, to those who are buried there, and to those who tend their graves and visit there, we have decided to remove it.”
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