Culture of silence hid secrets
ANOTHER week and yet more disturbing revelations in the Jimmy Savile affair.
Last week, I questioned the motives of those women who had finally decided to speak out about the sexual abuse they had allegedly endured at the hands of the popular TV personality.
What did they hope to achieve by coming forward now, when their alleged attacker was dead?
It was an argument that was demolished very effectively a couple of days later by my fellow columnist Michelle Hurst.
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The fact that these women waited until Sir Jimmy was no longer able to defend himself before going public still leaves something of a bitter taste.
However, Michelle pointed out that if the allegations are true and that others knew what was going on, then there are people still alive that have some very serious questions to answer.
The picture that seems to be emerging is that of a culture of silence in which colleagues turned a blind eye to Sir Jimmy's behaviour in the belief that no one would have believed them had they dared to tell the truth.
Appearing on Question Time, Janet Street-Porter, who worked at the BBC with Sir Jimmy in the 1980s, said that "a lot of people" within the corporation knew what was going on, but claimed that no one would have listened to her had she made a complaint.
It has also been alleged that throughout his career Sir Jimmy attempted to blackmail journalists into not publishing any allegations against him by telling them they would cause the many charities that he supported to lose donations.
In many ways the Savile case has echoes of the fall from grace of cyclist Lance Armstrong, who has been banned for life and stripped of his seven Tour de France titles for taking illegal substances.
Like Sir Jimmy, Armstrong was idolised by millions and feted for his charity work.
Like Sir Jimmy, it appears he was getting away with his illegal activities thanks to the silence and co-operation of people around him.
And as with Sir Jimmy, it seems Armstrong made threats to those who were thinking of blowing the whistle.
As with any participant in a sport historically littered with drugs cheats, uncomfortable questions have always dogged Armstrong.
For anyone to win an event as gruelling as the Tour de France seven times in a row is amazing enough – but for a 33-year-old cancer survivor to do it is incredible.
Yet we couldn't bring ourselves to admit it.
We didn't want to confront the possibility that this inspirational figure, who had beaten cancer, reached the pinnacle of sporting success and helped raise millions for charity, was a cheat.
British cyclist Alex Dowsett, for example, believes that the American is still a "legend."
The same could be said for Sir Jimmy.
But equally, you could argue that Sir Jimmy and Lance Armstrong got away with it for so long because they were so revered.
Their charity work should not be forgotten amid the disgrace, but neither should it be allowed to disguise or excuse any dubious behaviour they may have indulged in.
CLEETHORPES MP Martin Vickers has dismissed talk of Boris Johnson launching a bid for the Tory leadership as "pure fantasy".
Writing in the Telegraph from the Conservative Party Conference last week, Mr Vickers poured scorn on the media's attempts to whip up speculation about a Dave v Boris leadership contest.
The next leader would emerge from the shadows, he said, just like Ed Miliband and David Cameron.
"Tempted though I am to suggest some names, I'll resist," he added enigmatically.
Who could he be thinking of, I wonder?
MEANWHILE, Home Secretary Theresa May was just as dismissive of Lord Prescott's chances of being elected as Humberside's Police and Crime Commissioner in November.
After denouncing Labour's candidates for the election as "Lord Prescott and the has-beens" she told the Telegraph that the former deputy prime minister would not be a difficult candidate for the Tory Matthew Grove to defeat.
But surely Ms May's optimism is misplaced.
Lord Prescott's higher public profile will inevitably work in his favour, as will the unpopularity of the two parties in government.