‘I wouldn’t have let him near my children’ - deputy leader’s shock at Jimmy Savile abuse claims

THE deputy leader of Welwyn Hatfield Council has described his “shock” at the child sex abuse allegations surrounding Jimmy Savile – a man he knew for more than 20 years.

Councillor Alan Franey said he did not have “the slightest inkling” that Savile may have been sexually abusing young children in hospitals, schools and homes where he worked as a patron and volunteer.

Savile, who died last year aged 84, has been accused of sex abuse, including claims he molested young patients at Broadmoor Hospital in Berkshire, where Cllr Franey was chief executive from 1988 to 1997.

It was at Broadmoor that Cllr Franey first met Savile, and the pair became friends, even running marathons together to raise money for the Jim’ll Fix It star’s various charities.

Cllr Franey had not seen the ex BBC Radio One DJ for the past 15 years, but they had spoken on the phone occasionally.

Speaking to the Welwyn Hatfield Times this afternoon, Cllr Franey said he was finding the allegations difficult to take.

“I think total shock would be the fairest comment to make,” said Cllr Franey, who represents the Sherrards ward.

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“In all the time I knew him, I had no inkling that he was allegedly messing around with young children.

“He has met my children, and I wouldn’t have let them anywhere near him if I’d known.

“I find it quite distressing to turn on the television and look at the news.”

A growing list of allegations against Savile include claims he repeatedly raped a young patient at Broadmoor in the eary 1980s, and put his hand up another girl’s skirt as she watched TV in the late 60s.

Cllr Franey said Savile’s visits to Broadmoor were rare during his time as chief executive.

“He didn’t come very often,” he said. “He had a title called honorary entertainment officer, which he’d been doing since the 60s. I’m not sure how it started.

“It was rare [that he would visit the hospital]. There were no young children at the hospital. It’s a secure hospital, and any young children would have been visiting and accompanied by an adult.

“I really haven’t got the faintest idea [where the allegations have come from]. I’m as much in the dark as everybody else.

“I have two children, and he wouldn’t have been anywhere near them or me, that’s for certain. I find the whole thing totally abhorrent.”

To date, Scotland Yard is pursuing 120 separate lines of inquiry into abuse by the former Top of The Pops host.

Other forces have also handed complaints over to the Met, although Hertfordshire Constabulary said today it was not among them.