British police said on Tuesday there could be up to 25 victims as they start probing sexual abuse allegations against the late Jimmy Savile, one of Britain’s biggest TV stars in the 1970s and 1980s.
Scotland Yard said officers have formally recorded eight allegations of abuse against Savile — two of rape and six of indecent assault — spanning four decades.
The announcement came as British Prime Minister David Cameron called for the BBC and the police to investigate fully the claims against the eccentric disc jockey and long-time BBC presenter.
An ITV television documentary televised last week contained accounts from women who claimed they were sexually assaulted by Savile when they were children, in some cases on BBC premises.
Commander Peter Spindler, head of specialist crime investigations, told reporters his team were following 120 separate leads.
“It is too early for us to give you an accurate picture of what 120 lines of inquiry will distill down to, but we believe we will come up with between 20 to 25 victims,” Spindler said.
The claims span four decades — the first dating back to 1959 — and information already gathered suggested the alleged abuse was on a “national scale.”
“This really has captured the public’s mind. We are getting calls from victims, from witnesses and third parties, who believe they know something about it,” he said. “We have formally recorded eight criminal allegations against Savile. Two of those are rape, six of indecent assault. These are primarily against girls in their mid-teens, so between 13 and 16, and it spans four decades of abuse.”
Spindler added that two hospitals where Savile carried out charity and voluntary work had been contacted in relation to possible abuse.
Cameron earlier told ITV: “These stories are deeply, deeply troubling. I hope that every organization that has responsibilities will have a proper investigation into what happened.”
George Entwistle, the BBC’s new director-general, has said the corporation would examine all “outstanding questions” once police inquiries were completed.
Savile, known for his catchphrases, garish tracksuits, cigars and jangling jewelry, died in October last year aged 84.
Alongside his broadcasting work, the platinum-haired Savile raised huge sums for charity, for which he was knighted.
However, a stream of allegations have been unleashed by ITV’s Exposure: The Other Side of Jimmy Savile, with other women coming forward to allege they too were abused by the star.
Savile’s family have been outraged by the claims coming out when he is no longer around to defend his name.