Police are looking into allegations that Sir Jimmy Savile abused as many as 25 young girls, starting as far back as 1959.
By Martin Beckford, Home Affairs Editor
3:29PM BST 09 Oct 2012
Police are investigating claims that Jimmy Savile abused young women on a national scale over a 50 year period.
In the first official estimate of the scale of the scandal, Scotland Yard said officers were pursuing 120 different lines of inquiry that could involve up to 25 victims, in an inquiry known as Operation Yewtree.
So far eight criminal allegations have been formally recorded against the late BBC presenter, two of rape and six of indecent assault, involving girls aged between 13 and 16.
Police said Savile had a “predilection” for young girls and that they had found evidence of offending on a “national scale”.
Officers are in contact with Stoke Mandeville and Leeds General Infirmary hospitals, where he did charity work and volunteered, about the possibility that he abused patients there as well as in his BBC dressing room.
Jimmy Savile's £4,000 gravestone to be dismantled 09 Oct 2012
Freddie Starr appeared on Savile show with accuser 09 Oct 2012
Savile could be stripped of knighthood, Cameron hints 09 Oct 2012
Former BBC DJ hits out at Savile 'witch hunt' 09 Oct 2012
The Jimmy Savile scandal is inciting some ugly emotions 09 Oct 2012
The corporation’s own investigations unit is co-operating with the Metropolitan Police while officers are taking statements from the “brave” women who have come forward to say Savile took advantage of them.
With support from the NSPCC, the Met will compile a report within a few months on Savile’s behaviour, although it will also pursue criminal investigations against any living person linked to him if any evidence emerges to support a prosecution.
Commander Peter Spindler, head of Specialist Crime Investigations, told a press briefing on Tuesday: “Information is coming in, as we speak probably.
“The reality is this really has captured the public's mind. We are getting calls from victims, from witnesses and third parties who believe they know something about it.
“We have formally recorded eight criminal allegations against Savile. Two of those are rape, six of indecent assault.
“These are primarily against girls in their mid-teens, so between 13 and 16 and it spans four decades of abuse.”
He stressed that the BBC itself was not under investigation and that there was no evidence of a “sex ring” at the corporation.
The NSPCC’s hotline has had about 40 calls in the wake of ITV’s documentary about Savile, 24 of which have been referred to police. Although 17 of the child abuse charity’s calls related directly to Savile, a further 21 related to completely separate allegations.
David Cameron raised the prospect today of Sir Jimmy Savile being posthumously stripped of his knighthood in the wake of allegations of sexual abuse against young girls after describing claims as 'deeply, deeply troubling.'
The Prime Minister stopped short of revealing whether he felt the former DJ should lose the honour, but suggested that the case should be considered by a Whitehall committee which has the power to recommend forfeiture.
His comments came after the chairman of the BBC Trust gave his backing to inquiries by police and the corporation.
Lord Patten said the allegations against Savile could not be excused as behaviour from a time when "attitudes were different".
He told a business dinner in Cardiff last night that it was "no excuse to say 'That was then' in the 1960s, '70s and '80s, and attitudes were different then.
Mr Cameron told ITV1's Daybreak programme today: "These stories are deeply, deeply troubling and I hope that every organisation that has responsibilities will have a proper investigation into what happened, and if these things did happen, and how they were allowed to happen, and then of course everyone has to take their responsibilities."
Asked if Savile should lose his knighthood, Mr Cameron said: "We have something called a Forfeiture Committee. It is not chaired or sat on by me but it is responsible for looking at honours and the removal of honours, and obviously they have to do their job too."
The Cabinet Office said the honour had expired automatically anyway when he died.
He said: "The prime minister was making the point that there is a forfeiture committee which is independent of government and which looks into these things.
"However in relation to this case it should be noted that an order of the British empire is a living order so when people die it expires.
"That means that it is clearly the case that there is no knighthood to revoke."
Last week the BBC said it would work with police in examining the claims and on Friday Mr Entwistle wrote to staff urging them to come forward with information.
Speaking on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme yesterday, he said: "These are awful allegations that have been made, and they are criminal allegations.
"And the first thing I want to say is that the women involved here have gone through something awful, something I deeply regret they should have to go through, and I would like to apologise on behalf of the organisation to each and every one of them for what they've had to endure here."
Mr Entwistle said any BBC inquiry would take place after police had carried out their investigations.