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UK child sex scandal widens as veteran TV presenter admits guilt


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UK child sex scandal widens as veteran TV presenter admits guilt

BBC presenter Stuart Hall has admitted to 14 charges of indecent assault and is due to be sentenced in June. His 13 victims include a nine-year-old girl.

The career of the 83-year-old ex-presenter of game show It’s a Knockout appears to be over, since the offence is punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment.

Hall had previously described the allegations as “pernicious and spurious”, but finally admitted to the crimes he was being prosecuted for.

Prosecutor Nazir Afzal called Hall an “opportunistic predator” and thanked the victims for having the bravery to come forward.

“This case clearly shows that the victims of abuse will not be denied justice by the passage of time and abusers will be held to account,” said Afzal.

When veteran TV presenter Jimmy Savile was exposed as one of the most prolific high-profile sex offenders it shocked the nation. Little did Britons realise though that it was only the prologue of a large-scale horror story.

Savile presented BBC TV’s Top of the Pops and Jim’ll Fix it. He was a DJ for the national music station BBC Radio 1 and received a knighthood in 1990. His abuses covered a catalogue of offences committed between 1955 and 2009, with victims of all ages, the youngest being an eight-year-old boy and the oldest a 47-year-old woman. Around 500 people have alleged that Savile sexually abused them, most of them aged 13 to 18 at the time. Savile died aged 84 in 2011, before the victims had the opportunity to see him brought to justice.

The Savile scandal prompted Operation Yewtree, which started as a police assessment, but soon turned into a formal criminal investigation. The silver lining in this cloud can only be found in the fact that victims have found the voice to speak up.

Police Commander Peter Spindler said: “The public’s response to this issue has been astounding. We are dealing with alleged abuse on an unprecedented scale. The profile of this operation has empowered a staggering number of victims to come forward to report the sexual exploitation which occurred during their childhood.”

And that does not only include Savile’s victims: there have been 12 arrests as part of Operation Yewtree.

High-profile celebrity publicist Max Clifford has been charged with alleged assaults between 1966 and 1985, with the alleged victims being girls and women aged 14 to 19. He will appear in court on May 28 to answer those charges, which he denies.

Britain’s most famous Australian, TV presenter Rolf Harris, has been questioned by investigators of Operation Yewtree. The 83-year-old has been on British TV for 60 years, a household name as a performer, singer and painter.

Operation Yewtree has three lines of investigation: the first strand looks specifically at “Savile’s actions”, the second strand is titled “Savile and others”, while the third is simply called “Others”.

Comedian and singer Freddie Starr has been re-arrested amid fresh claims of sexual abuse, unrelated to Savile this time. He was first held by the police in November 2012 over allegations that he groped a 14-year-old girl in one of Savile’s BBC dressing rooms. He denies the allegation.

In the wake of the scandal the BBC has promised to tackle a culture of bullying, with its director general Tony Hall demanding a “zero tolerance” approach.

A report in March found that the police failed to handle complaints against Savile correctly, which resulted in its failure to arrest him. Home Secretary Theresa May, who commissioned the report, said “The public rightly want answers to how victims’ voices were ignored for so long. While we can never right this wrong, we must learn the lessons to prevent the same from ever happening again.”

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