Jimmy Savile’s victims have called on Boris Johnson to “straight away” withdraw his discredited claim that Sir Keir Starmer failed to prosecute the sex offender.
The prime minister attacked the Labour leader on Monday in the Commons following the Sue Gray report publication, accusing him of “failing to prosecute Jimmy Savile” while he was director of public prosecutions.
Victims want PM to apologise
A lawyer whose firm represented some of the victims of the late broadcaster said he has spoken to them and they want Mr Johnson to “withdraw these comments and apologise, and I call on him to do that right away”.
Richard Scorer, head of abuse and public inquiries at Slater and Gordon, added: “I echo the widespread disgust at what we saw and heard in the House of Commons yesterday as Boris Johnson tried to distract from the Sue Gray update.
“As one of the lawyers who represented many of Savile’s victims, I can confirm that these allegations against Sir Keir Starmer are completely unfounded and unjustified.
“Sir Keir did more than any other director of public prosecutions to advance the rights of victims.
“No DPP can control every decision. The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) was much better under his leadership.
“Weaponising their suffering to get out of a political hole is disgraceful.”
Sir Keir: ‘It’s obviously not true’
Sir Keir told Sky News on Tuesday it is a “ridiculous slur peddled by right-wing trolls” and he could see the “disgust” on the faces of Conservative MPs behind Mr Johnson as he made the accusation.
“They knew that he was going so low with that slur, with that lie – he had been advised not to do it because it’s obviously not true, but he does it because he doesn’t understand what honesty and integrity means,” Sir Keir said.
Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle said he was “far from satisfied that the comments in question were appropriate” but said “procedurally nothing disorderly occurred”.
Downing Street said Mr Johnson stands by his comments but his official spokesman refused to repeat the assertion, arguing that it would clash with the principle of civil service impartiality.
However some Tory MPs spoke out against the comments, including former chief whip Julian Smith, who said the “smear” against Sir Keir “is wrong and cannot be defended, it should be withdrawn”.
In 2020, fact-checking charity Full Fact looked into the claim Sir Keir had stopped Savile being charged in 2009, when Sir Keir was head of the CPS.
It said the decision not to prosecute Savile was made on the grounds of “insufficient evidence”, with the allegations against the DJ dealt with by local police and a reviewing lawyer for the CPS.
“A later investigation criticised the actions of both the CPS and the police in their handling of the situation,” Full Fact found.
“It did not suggest that Mr Starmer was personally involved in the decisions made.”
Savile died aged 84 in 2011, having never been brought to justice for his crimes. He is now believed to be one of Britain’s most prolific sex offenders.
A 2016 report into his abuse found staff at the BBC missed numerous chances to stop him.