The corridors of power at the BBC are being shaken again. First disgraced disc jockey Jimmy Savile is linked to child sexual abuse.
Then the doubly-knighted Savile (He has a British and Papal Knighthood) was caught on camera happily defending Gary Glitter, aka Paul Gadd, not only for having obscene films of children on his computer – but also for his activities in Vietnam.
And now, but probably not finally, the BBC is launching an enquiry into itself.
Dame Janet Smith has been asked to look at the BBC’s handling of material that might have been of interest to the police or relevant authorities while Savile worked on Top of the Pops, Jim’ll Fix It and other programmes.
And she will also examine whether the BBC’s whistleblowing processes and child protection procedures as “fit for purpose”. It expects the review to begin as a matter of urgency, reports the Guardian.
As we (photographer Andrew Chant and I) were the principal source of Glitter’s problems in south east Asia. (We chased him out of Cambodia. Our exposé of him in Vietnam led to his arrest and imprisonment and we helped ensure he did not enter Thailand on his release) – now might be the time to tell the fuller story.
The fact that Savile could come out with this interview below is seriously worrying. He is he believes, and as it turned out was, completely untouchable.
But nothing about this is surprising to journalists around at the time. These are stories they had been trying to get into print for years – facing an army of agents, libel lawyers and even the broadcasters.
But first a little bit about – The Hunt for Gary Glitter in words and pictures.
Below is the house in Kandal Province on the outskirts of Phnom Penh.
Here Glitter could do what he wanted in complete secrecy and he was a neighbour of a former Cambodian cultural minister who had similar interests. We caught him there in 2002. After stories in the British press he was asked to leave the country..but it was done quietly.
But it was not until the end of 2005 that we caught him in the coastal town of Vung Tau in Vietnam in this house below.
This house facing the sea in Vung Tau was also very private. He never used the front door but drove his motorcycle up an alley to the side of it.
Actually the News of the World had a team working in Vung Tau but they had been unable to find him and we were asked to go in to replace them. When we got there we found their tipster – a very greedy Englishman who thought he was going to win the pools.
Using some trusted techniques, glorified door-knocking, interviewing motor-cycle taxi drivers, we were able to find Glitter quite quickly and Andy Chant took several pictures of him out shopping with this girl – one of the elder ones who gave evidence against him.
So we followed them home:
Meanwhile we discovered that half the expat community in Vung Tau knew he was there. Not only that, but he could not help on occasion but sing in a local bar. It did not occur to anyone to do something about it – except one guy who wanted cash.
And he was the life and soul of some parties as this picture shows him approaching a Vietnamese woman with a king prawn stuff down his trunks.
This inevitably led to a confrontation in this bar below – the Labyrinth run by a Brit with a Vietnamese wife. I had stated my views on the expats.
Andy had, unwisely decided to hang around the bar longer than was prudent.
He ended up being chased around the bar by the Vietnamese wife, who did not want bad publicity, and had got stabbed.
I was called from my hotel to the bar, saw the stabbing victim, (it was more of a scratch but the huge size of the knife was real enough) and tried to calm things down, while simultaneously booking the next flight out.
Publication was due in a few hours and we were in Vietnam on tourist visas without our usual minders, and the Labyrinth was indeed about to be named in the newspaper.
Copy and pictures were duly filed and the then news editor James Weatherup gave the byline to Chief Reporter Neville Thurlbeck. But the copy I filed had taken on a life of its own.
When the News of the World asked us to stay we declined. Weatherup had been a devious pain in the butt and I had no intention of spending weeks interviewing child victims under dubious circumstances supplying quotes which could also take on a life of their own in the News of the World.
(Both Weatherup and Thurlbeck were arrested during Scotland Yard’s ‘Operation Weeting’.) The others of course were Rebekah Brooks,(editor) Andrew Coulson, (editor) Stuart Kuttner,(managing editor) Glenn Mulcaire PI, Greg
Miskiw, Deputy News Editor, Ian Edmondson, News Editor. Collectively they face nineteen charges in relation to phone hacking)
However we were very back very quickly for Glitter’s arrest and trial for ‘The Times’ .
It had all by now become a major media circus and when I spoke to Glitter in Vung Tau Provincial under one of my other hats he was fuming at the News of the World ‘vendatta’.
Paul Francis Gadd got three years for offences against two young Vietnamese girls aged 10 and 11.
When sentencing the court took into account that he had paid compensation to the parents.
Still he considered himself innocent and merely the victim of a witchhunt.
He was of course the victim of a witchhunt. Newspapers and television would not have invested so much time and money into a nobody.
Glitter had become the face of British child sex abuse.
As for his innocence below I produce for the first time in public the full indictment against him.
Glitter being packed in handcuffs into the back of a prison truck was not the last I would be seeing of him.
But first here is the indictment. I have removed the names of the pre-pubescent girls.
By August 2008 we were back in Vietnam again. This time at the Caravelle Hotel in Ho Chi Minh City to join Glitter as he left the country having served his sentence. We were directly in touch with the Thai authorities in Suvarnabhumi airport and by the time Glitter’s plane was airborne they had the seat number and were already standing by the gate awaiting his arrival in Bangkok.
In return our contacts gave us the arrival video they took of Glitter being escorted by the Thai authorities off the plane, down the steps into a waiting executive coach and into the Thai Airways first clash lounge.
Glitter was furious and admanant. He would not be getting on the flight to London that night. Despite hours of attempts at persuasion he was sticking to his guns. He would choose another destination, he said.
He would not be persuaded. Eventually he checked into a transit hotel within the terminal building where at the Louis Tavern Hotel he remainded with a police guard overnight.
By now he was urgently calling lawyers in Hong Kong who had seemingly advised him to go there and they would sort things out.
Arriving in Bangkok on an early morning flight was an officer from CEOP – Child Protection and Online Protection Unit – tasked with bringing Glitter home in triumph to be dealt with by a judge and be put on the child abuse register.
Unfortunartely things did not run smoothly for the CEOP officer. His office seemingly had not had time to go through the formalities with the Thai authorities and with of course no powers in Thailand this Marshall was arriving without a gun.
He was however allowed to speak to Glitter briefly, but despite his argument, that Glitter was only putting off the inevitable, he was unable to convince him to return to Britain. Here they are pictured below having their heart to heart.
By mid afternoon my phone buzzed with a message from Thai contacts to book two first class tickets to Hong Kong on the next Thai Aiways flight.
(We got the last two seats but did tip off colleagues from the Mail on Sunday where we were going. They arrived an hour after us in Hong Kong after a harrowing flight on an old 1-2-Go jumbo)
Shortly after boarding Glitter joined us in the row in front.
The interview is out their somewhere but it does not really convey the flavour of the moment as he played the part of a hillbilly grandad feigning listening through an earhorn by cupping his hands to his ears, then shaking his head in puzzlement.
He did manage to tell cabin staff coherently that he was a VIP and would need special treatment at the other end and a reception committee and private transport to keep the press away.
He did get a reception committee in Hong Kong but probably not the one planned. No VIP vehicle.
He had to take the train to the terminal along with other first class passengers and then a long walk to meet Hong Kong Immigration authorities who had already decided not to allow him in.
Gary Glitter was being worn down. It was dawning on him that wherever he went somebody would be there waiting.
Within twelve hours he had given up the fight. He had agreed to fly back to London, via Bangkok again, where the CEOP officer could pick him up. He would submit himself to the British authorities after all.
|Hong Kong officials and airline hospitality staff. He became a recipient of the hospitality of Hong Kong Immigration|
The conclusion is this. People should not be shocked at the Savile revelations. They were an open secret in Fleet Street for years. Nobody could get such a story into print because not even the victims would talk about it at the time.
|Allowed to wear a wig for his passport photo?|
I knew a lot for instance about the Bay City Rollers. I could never use it. Not only money but society protects these people. Stringent privacy laws make it increasingly impossible to set up any sort of investigation. In the case of Savile, and a well known showbiz figure close to royalty, the perils of investigating Britain’s most famous ‘do-gooders’ were enormous.
(I mean Savile even came to my school in the Highland of Scotlands where he was Chieftain of the Lochaber Highland Games – see picture at the beginning of this story. How’s about that! Always wore tracksuits, never underwear, was the common belief)
Who would believe that a personal friend of Tam Paton, the svengali manager of the Bay City Rollers, a man associated with sexual abuse and in a showbiz circle of like-minded people, could actually devise and produce a programme called ‘Minipops’ and have pre-pubescent children sexily dressed and in full make up singing songs about making love?
Strangely enough today with our laws in the U.K. it is more difficult than ever to bring famous child abusers like ‘Gary Glitter’ to account. And he after all, according to Jimmy Savile, was only caught because he took his computer into PC World for repair.
And of course in Vietnam some women must have put the girls into him, said Savile. Glitter must have been the victim.’Cherchez La Femme!’ Savile was deeply disturbed.
Thank god there was one public minded citizen in a computer shop – unlike the expats of Vung Tau.