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'Sickening' Savile abuse detailed
Disgraced entertainer Jimmy Savile committed "truly awful" abuse against patients at hospitals across the country and even boasted about having sex with corpses, a series of chilling reports have revealed.
Branded as an "opportunistic sexual predator" by investigators, Savile used the NHS and his celebrity status to "exploit and abuse" patients and staff.
Among the most disturbing findings are "macabre accounts" of claims the now-dead TV and radio presenter performed sex acts on dead bodies in the mortuary at Leeds General Infirmary (LGI) and at least one other hospital.
Findings of investigations into 28 hospitals were published, including high-security Broadmoor, where Savile sexually abused at least five individuals, including two patients who were subjected to repeated assaults.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt apologised on behalf of the Government and the NHS to the victims of Savile's "sickening" sexual abuse, while Labour called for a code of conduct to be set up outlining the "appropriate relationship" between the NHS and celebrities or business backers.
Discussing the LGI findings at a press conference in London, Julian Hartley, current chief executive of the Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, said: "As a Leeds citizen and a well-known celebrity for more than six decades it is perhaps understandable that Savile would have had some involvement with hospitals in the city.
"This report, however, paints a grim picture of an individual with a very dark side who used his role as a volunteer and fundraiser, combined with his national fame, to mask a range of dreadful acts he perpetrated on children and adults alike over a prolonged period of time."
Among the 28 hospitals investigated were Moss Side, in Liverpool, which is now one of three top-security mental hospitals in England, along with Rampton and Broadmoor.
Two female former patients accused Savile of sexually abusing them in a ward and a third allegation came from a male ex-patient who claimed that he witnessed Savile stroke a patient's breast at a hospital social event.
Investigators found Savile raped a woman in a motor home at Digby Hospital, a mental hospital in Exeter in 1970, while a former patient at the mental health unit at High Royds Hospital, Leeds claimed Savile inappropriately touched people during a fancy dress fun run in the 1980s.
But s ome of the most shocking discoveries were made during the investigations into the LGI and Broadmoor.
Investigators heard the now-dead entertainer claimed to have "interfered with the bodies of deceased patients" at the LGI mortuary, while a patient of Barnet General Hospital overheard nurses discussing how they had seen Savile have sex with a dead body at another hospital.
The Leeds team said while there was no way of proving Savile interfered with the bodies in this way, they concluded that "it is evident his interest in the mortuary was not within accepted boundaries".
Dr Sue Proctor, who led the investigation into Savile's abuse at the LGI, told a press conference Savile claimed that large rings he wore were "made from the glass eyes of dead bodies at the mortuary".
While she said the allegations cannot be verified now, Dr Proctor said they had to be considered in the context that the controls around access to the mortuary in the 1980s were "lax".
Savile's other victims at the LGI ranged from five-years-old to pensioners and included men, women, boys and girls.
Investigators discovered members of staff at the LGI failed to pass on complaints of abuse to senior managers, who could have acted to stop it happening.
The inquiry into his activities at LGI after he started his association in 1960 included the testimonies of 60 people who gave accounts of their experiences with Savile to investigators - 33 of these were patients. Three of these incidents were rapes, the investigators said.
Investigators also found "clear failings" in the way access to wards in Broadmoor was controlled, as Savile had keys allowing him unrestricted access to ward areas within the security perimeter.
In another disturbing finding, it was noted that Savile sometimes watched as female patients undressed for baths in the wards, and at other times looked through doorways while making inappropriate comments.
Savile's "often flamboyantly inappropriate" attitude towards women was seen as part of his public act, "just Jimmy", the report found.
While fewer assaults were reported to have taken place at Broadmoor than other hospitals, the inquiry concluded that Savile was "an opportunistic sexual predator" throughout the time he was associated with the institution.
Investigator Dr Bill Kirkup said the report's findings are "likely to represent an underestimate of the true picture".
A joint statement from NHS chiefs described the findings of the investigations as "truly awful", while both current chief executives of Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust and West London Mental Health NHS Trust, which covers Broadmoor, apologised to victims.
Making a statement to the House of Commons, the Health Secretary said: "Today I want to apologise on behalf of the Government and the NHS to all the victims who were abused by Savile in NHS-run institutions.
"We let them down badly and however long ago it may have been, many of them are still reliving the pain they went through."
Savile, a Radio 1 DJ who also presented the BBC's Top Of The Pops and Jim'll Fix It, died aged 84 in October 2011 - a year before allegations that he had sexually abused children were broadcast in ITV documentary Exposure: The Other Side Of Jimmy Savile.
The documentary ultimately led to a joint review by the Metropolitan Police and NSPCC, which in turn triggered separate NHS investigations.
A key report into his activities at Stoke Mandeville Hospital has been delayed after new information recently came to light.