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IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST
“Police & Councils: How much did they know?
It has been Goth Weekend in Whitby – hard on the heels of the Bram Stoker International Horror Film Festival – and the autumn mists and Victorian attire of those parading the streets have conspired to enhance the celebrated eeriness of the town.
Since the Tim Hick’s article “Did North Yorkshire Police ‘fix it’ for Jim” last week, some astonishing revelations have emerged, from almost half a century ago and from more recent times, here in the Borough of Scarborough.
In the late-sixties, when the hippy ethos was first taking flight, ‘live’ music was still the preferred form of youth entertainment, with much emphasis on ‘Love and Peace’. The music scene in Scarborough was vibrant and largely benign.
But there was a darker side.
The ‘hip’ place to hang out for the musicians of the Yorkshire coast music scene was the coffee-bar in the Scarborough Bowling Alley, where girl fans of the local bands where much in evidence.
Conspicuous, in that setting, was the presence of a small group of older guys – the self-professed ‘Oldest Swinger in Town’, ‘Ron G’ and a very camp booking-agent called ‘Peter P’. ‘Jimmy C’ used to swing by. Another regular was Jimmy Savile. The word was that they were talent-scouting.
Some contemporary witnesses are quick to assert that they never saw or heard anything to cause them alarm. But one prominent local recalls being propositioned, by a member of Adam Faith’s management entourage, to attend ‘The Club’ – a strictly private group of older men of questionable tastes. Faith was good friends with local ‘big-shot’ and reputedly predatory homosexual Peter Jaconelli. Hearing that Jaconelli would be present, our informant declined the proposition.
This reference to ‘The Club’ is of special interest, because it ties in with stories amounting to common knowledge amongst the older generation in Whitby, that a local resident (who also owned a club in Scarborough) regularly entertained members of ‘The Club’, including Savile and the aforementioned Jaconelli, in a purpose-built room (fitted out by a local craftsman known to Real Whitby) in his Whitby home.
This room (or ‘chamber’, as it reportedly was known) was equipped with a whipping-post, replete with restraining-shackles and other S&M paraphernalia. Two independent witnesses have come forward who claim to have visited this ‘chamber’ in its heyday, when sex and drugs sessions are alleged to have taken place with some regularity – apparently without being inconvenienced by the attentions of the local Police.
New allegations have now emerged (through postings on the Scarborough News web-site) that one of the alleged members of ‘The Club’ (by then the Mayor of Scarborough, Councillor Peter Jaconelli) was convicted (in York, Bournemouth and Northern Ireland) of offences against minors – but word of these convictions conveniently escaped mention in the Scarborough and Whitby press.
Dennis Lemon, Saville’s former bodyguard when he worked in a club in Leeds, has alleged that Savile had also been in Court in connection with molesting a minor. If this is so, surely the information was available to the North Yorkshire Police (NYP) through the Criminal Records Office.
Thus, a large volume of circumstantial intelligence must surely have been available to North Yorkshire Police.
Unsurprisingly, we have had no response at all from NYP to the earlier Real Whitby article; although they were offered the opportunity to comment. They have not done so and are apparently still relying on an earlier statement:
Despite the obvious connection of prominent local figures, NYP are effectively denying any responsibility for having failed to detect and arrest Savile or any of the other members of ‘The Club’.
One wonders where NYP stand on claims in Savile’s 1974 autobiography ‘As It Happens’ that a Yorkshire Council provided him with six girls as ‘payment’ for his guest appearance at a Mayoral Ball.
In the now famous Louis Theroux documentary, Savile boasted about tying people up in his club and keeping them “down in the boiler room” until 02.00am when he was ready for them. He goes on to state that they would plead to get out but he (Savile) was judge, jury and executioner. Clearly a very sinister statement – particularly as Savile did not know that he was being filmed at the time, as Theroux himself was not present; thus, Savile was not maintaining a public façade.
A boiler-room would be a suitable location for secret confinement and there may therefore have been no need to tie up young people held there as prisoners. So would a ‘chamber’. And Savile apparently did use ropes and/or other methods of restraint on his victims, though he did not divulge precisely what he did to his young prisoners.
Given his background (he was physically fit, a former miner, professional wrestler and marathon-runner), it may have been acts of violence, or sexual abuse, or some sort of sado-masochistic bondage practice. It certainly may well have been criminal; we simply do not know. But it is clear that tying people up and abusing them was an activity in which he himself claimed to have frequently indulged.
So what was it that he and the other members of ‘The Club’ were doing in that ‘chamber’ in Whitby – with its whipping-post and shackles?
And why did the Whitby Police disregard the rumours rife in the town?
Savile’s associates – ice-cream king Peter Jaconelli and arcade-operator Jimmy Corrigan – loomed large on the Scarborough club scene and even larger along the seafront, where young people traditionally congregate. Talking to traders and shop-owners in the harbour area, it is clear that it was widely-acknowledged that the Savile set – ‘The Club’ – exercised a preference for very young people of both genders.
Did NYP really have no dialogue with local traders? Did they not evaluate local rumour and intelligence? Did they not liaise with Scotland Yard in respect of sex crimes and child-abuse up and down the country?
It is noteworthy, too, that there have been other investigations into sex offences involving young people in Scarborough. So why have we heard nothing of any NYP investigation into the Savile set?
And why has an FOIA request to North Yorkshire County Council Social Services, asking for the number and dates of past allegations against Savile, been refused on the grounds that “the large amount of work involved would bring the cost of answering the request over the amount to which we are legally required to respond”. Our information is that a further FOIA request has since been submitted, constraining the request to reports from just three ‘sample’ institutions – Raincliffe School, Throxenby Hall and the day-and-boarding-school Scarborough College.
Councillor Tom FOX (Con.) was reportedly with NYP for thirty years, mostly in Scarborough, finishing as acting head of the Scarborough Police. Following retirement, he was elected to Scarborough Borough Council in 2003.
Councillor Tom FOX has now twice been asked to confirm (or deny) prior knowledge or awareness – either as a Police Officer or as a Councillor – of allegations against Savile. No response.
And yet Councillor FOX has assured the public, in the Scarborough News report of his belated proposal that Savile should be stripped of his honorary Freedom of the Borough of Scarborough title (conferred in November 2005), that:
Are we to conclude, from that pointedly conditional form of words – “if the Council had been aware” – (as distinct, say, from “Councillors were unaware”), that the Council did not know – but Councillor Tom FOX did? It would appear that he is not intent upon clarifying his intention.
Last week, Councillor Tom FOX was offered the opportunity, ahead of the publication of this article, to submit a comment for inclusion in this article. No response.
A great deal has been made of the Savile cover-up by the BBC and other national institutions. In the aftermath of the Hillsborough cover-up and the astonishing number of Chief Constables presently under investigation for corruption of one sort or another (eleven), including allegations of ‘undue influence’ in a sex-crime investigation, the Police in this country are in a state of “plummeting morale” – according, that is, to the Lord Stevens Report.
Now The Daily Mail has published allegations of Savile having held regular meetings with Police Officers and ‘gangsters’, and The Daily Mirror has reported that Scarborough Police have failed to search Savile’s Scarborough apartment.
Questions are being asked at the highest levels of Government. Anti-corruption champion Lord Maginnis of Drumglass has referred to the North Yorkshire Police as “that particularly dubious Constabulary that merits careful investigation”.
Small wonder that there is little confidence in the region that the forthcoming highly-politicised election (on 15th November) of a Police & Crime Commissioner for North Yorkshire will deliver answers to these urgent questions.
But our more immediate question is this:
Is it not time for transparency? Time for someone to make a definitive statement? A statement for which he (or she) will stand ready and willing to accept full accountability?
Is that not the rôle of the Leader of the Council – Councillor Tom FOX?
“For too long those in power made decisions behind closed doors, released information behind a veil of jargon and denied people the power to hold them to account. This coalition is driving a wrecking ball through that culture – and it’s called transparency.” – [David Cameron – Sept. 2010]