Theroux: Thoughts are with victims

Times Series: Sir Jimmy Savile died at his home in Leeds on October 29 last year, aged 84 Sir Jimmy Savile died at his home in Leeds on October 29 last year, aged 84

Film-maker Louis Theroux, who tried to unravel Sir Jimmy Savile's private life on-screen, said his thoughts were "with the victims" following claims the Jim'll Fix It star had sexually abused schoolgirls.

The broadcaster spoke out to say the rumours which had been circulating appeared to have been "validated" by the women who have come forward to speak about their alleged treatment by the late Sir Jimmy in a TV documentary.

Exposure: The Other Side Of Jimmy Savile, is due to be screened on Wednesday and details claims from women dating to the 1970s that he had abused girls in his Rolls-Royce and at BBC Television Centre.

A former colleague of the late Top Of The Pops host alleged that Sir Jimmy had used his charity fundraising work as a way of preventing his private life being exposed.

Radio host Paul Gambaccini, who said he had waited 30 years for these stories to come out, suggested the veteran presenter had threatened newspapers that his charity cash would dry up if they published the allegations.

He told ITV1's Daybreak programme: "On (one) occasion, and this cuts to the chase of the whole matter, he was called and he said 'well you could run that story, but if you do there goes the funds that come in to Stoke Mandeville - do you want to be responsible for the drying up of the charity donations?'. And they backed down."

Flamboyant bachelor Sir Jimmy - known to millions for his TV and radio appearances over many years - died last year at the age of 84.

Theroux, who featured him in one of his When Louis Met ... BBC programmes, said: "So the rumours seem to have been in some degree validated. I haven't seen ITV's expose on Jimmy Savile yet, but from what I understand there are a number of credible accounts from underaged teenage girls of Jimmy abusing his position of trust and celebrity to procure sexual favours. What is especially disturbing is the nature of the alleged abuse - the fact that it apparently took place repeatedly, in the workplace and at a school he was visiting, and that it may have been known to his bosses and co-workers. My thoughts are with the victims. I hope they find peace."

Roger Foster, Sir Jimmy's nephew, said his family was "disgusted and disappointed" by the programme. "The guy hasn't been dead for a year yet and they're bringing these stories out. It could affect his legacy, his charity work, everything. I'm very sad and disgusted," said Mr Foster, from Goole, East Yorkshire.

A spokesman for ITV defended its programme, saying: "This documentary is the result of an in-depth investigation into long-standing allegations of serious and widespread sexual misconduct by Sir Jimmy Savile. Because of the very serious nature of the claims made by several interviewees in relation to this, particular care and consideration was of course given to the decision to produce and broadcast this programme. The programme takes full account of the fact that Sir Jimmy is not here to defend himself against these claims."

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