Investigators were given “macabre accounts” of disgraced presenter Jimmy Savile “acting unacceptably” with dead bodies in the mortuary of a hospital.
An investigation into Savile’s abuse at Leeds General Infirmary (LGI) heard the now-dead entertainer claimed to have “interfered with the bodies of deceased patients”, including performing sex acts on them.
Investigators said while there was no way of proving Savile interfered with the bodies in this way, they concluded that “it is evident his interest in the mortuary was not within accepted boundaries”.
Dr Sue Proctor, who led the investigation into Savile’s abuse at the LGI, told a press conference a student nurse reported having had a conversation with Savile in which he claimed he performed sex acts on the dead.
While she said the allegations cannot be verified now, Dr Proctor said they had to be considered in the context that the controls around access to the mortuary in the 1980s were “lax”.
Dr Proctor referred to Savile’s claims that large rings he wore were “made from the glass eyes of dead bodies at the mortuary”.
Savile’s professed interest in the dead was described by Dr Proctor as “pretty unwholesome”.
Savile visited the mortuary in his role as voluntary porter and that he visited socially with his friend, who was the chief mortician.
Investigators said he publicly acknowledged his fascination with the dead and there were a lack of stringent procedures surrounding the mortuary.
A series of chilling reports have revealed Savile subjected patients in hospitals across the country to “truly awful” sexual abuse for more than four decades.
Savile’s victims at the LGI ranged from five-years-old to pensioners and included men, women, boys and girls.
At high-security hospital Broadmoor, Savile sexually abused at least five individuals, including two patients who were subjected to repeated assaults.
Investigators discovered members of staff at the LGI failed to pass on complaints of abuse to senior managers, who could have acted to stop it happening.
And they also found “clear failings” in the way access to wards in Broadmoor was controlled, as Savile had keys allowing him unrestricted access to ward areas within the security perimeter.
A joint statement from NHS chiefs described the findings of the investigations as “truly awful”, while both current chief executives of Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust and West London Mental Health NHS Trust, which covers Broadmoor, apologised to victims.
The inquiry into his activities at LGI after he started his association in 1960 included the testimonies of 60 people who gave accounts of their experiences with Savile to investigators - 33 of these were patients.
Three of these incidents were rapes, the investigators said.
The Leeds team said 19 of those who came forward were under 16 years old and the age range was five to 75.
They said the majority were teenagers but 19 victims were hospital staff - all women.
At Broadmoor, investigators found sexual relationships between staff and patients were tolerated in what was a “clear, repeated failure of safeguarding standards”.
There was an atmosphere within the hospital that tolerated inappropriate behaviour and discouraged reporting, the probe said.
Savile’s “often flamboyantly inappropriate” attitude towards women was seen as part of his public act, “just Jimmy”, the report found.
In a disturbing finding, it was noted that Savile sometimes watched as female patients undressed for baths in the wards, and at other times looked through doorways while making inappropriate comments.
Savile had ties with Calderdale. He often used to visit St John’s Church, Cragg Vale, for which he raised thousands of pounds, and was an honorary church warden. He was a popular figure in the Calder Valley right up until his death. In the 1970s he had a caravan parked outside the Hinchliffe Arms Cragg Vale..