Savile 'targeted children on wards'

Blackpool Citizen: New abuse allegations surround the late Sir Jimmy Savile New abuse allegations surround the late Sir Jimmy Savile

Sir Jimmy Savile visited wards at an NHS hospital to find children to abuse, it has been claimed.

There are a growing number of allegations that the former TV presenter groped young patients at Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Buckinghamshire, where he worked as a volunteer fundraiser.

Nurses at the hospital are understood to have dreaded his visits because of his behaviour, and would tell children to stay in bed and pretend to be asleep when he came round.

Rebecca Owen, a former patient at Stoke Mandeville Hospital, told BBC News she overheard nurses talking in a way that suggested he also targeted them, the Daily Telegraph said. Ms Owen told the paper: "It was an air of resignation that you had to put up with. There was some sort of ironic chatter between the nurses about who would be the lucky one to go off to his room. And then, as one of the nurses was leaving or passing by my bed, she leant over and said, 'the best you can do is stay in bed until he's gone and pretend to be asleep'."

Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust, which runs the hospital, said it was shocked to hear the allegations and never received any complaints about Savile. A statement from the trust said: "We are unaware of any record or reports of inappropriate behaviour of this nature during Jimmy's work with the trust. We can confirm that the police have contacted us this week as part of their assessment exercise and we are co-operating with them fully."

As the scandal of Savile's alleged abuse of children in his BBC dressing room, at hospitals and schools continues to grow, calls have been made for the BBC to review its guidelines on child protection.

Lord Patten, the chairman of the BBC Trust, called the allegations against Savile a "cesspit", and said he wanted to ensure the corporation's policies were "fit for purpose". He also pledged that the BBC's independent inquiry should be launched as swiftly as possible following a police investigation into Savile's activities.

Lord Patten said he believed it would be a good idea for BBC director-general George Entwistle to make a prominent apology on behalf of the BBC once the claims have been unravelled, possibly on prime-time TV.

His comments came hours after Savile's headstone was removed from a cemetery in Scarborough and taken away out of "respect to public opinion". The elaborate tombstone was removed from Woodlands Cemetery shortly after midnight at the request of Savile's family to be broken up and sent to landfill. The grave, in which Savile was buried at an angle so he could "see" Scarborough Castle and the sea, will remain unmarked for the foreseeable future.

Police said they believe the "predatory sex offender" could have abused up to 25 victims over a period of 40 years.

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