Sir Nicholas Fairbairn

Savile, McLaren, the Great Child Abuse Swindle of 1980 and beyond

Over the years, an assortment of musicians, authors, TV presenters, comedians and satirists have hinted at the old cliche of truth being stranger than fiction (just a whole lot less publishable) with regard to what was in circulation as to Savile’s abusive and sinister side:

“It’s common for fiction writers to get round issues of legality or taste by creating a composite figure with nudgingly familiar details. While Savile was still alive, the crime-writer Val McDermid featured a character called Jacko Vance (Savile’s middle-name was Vince) in the Wire in the Blood books. Played in the TV adaptations by John Michie, Vance is a much-loved Northern TV celebrity who hid a predilection for raping and torturing young women” (Mark Lawson, The Guardian, New Tricks: was the series finale actually about Jimmy Savile? 31 October 2012)

1. 1978: The Great Child Abuse Swindle, Johnny Rotten & what McLaren knew

2. 1984: Jilly Cooper, Barnes Common, Elm Guest House and the ‘Activities’

3. 1987: Jerry Sadowitz & Savile ‘an expert in child abuse’

4. 1988: Savile on BBC’s Open To Question facing an incisive audience of teenagers

5. 1994 (4th January and 26th December): Jeremy Hardy and Chris Morris mock Savile with very different outcomes

6. 1997 & 2011: Val McDermid & Jacko Vance ‘Wire in the Blood’ and ‘The Retribution’

7. 1996: Irvine Welsh & Freddy Royle in ‘Lorraine goes to Livingstone’

8. 1998: Skinner & Baddiel ITV’s Fantasy World Cup 

9. 1999: Terry Wogan comments on Savile ‘haunting the corridors’ of the BBC

10. 2007 (June – November): Angus Deayton ‘rapped’ or ‘censured’ for delivering scripted remarks?


1. 1978: The Great Child Abuse Swindle: Johnny Rotten & what McLaren knew about ‘corruption and hypocrisy that underlay Top of the Pops’

“It’s easier to list the people I don’t want to kill.”

“I’d like to kill Jimmy Savile. He’s a hypocrite. I’ve heard he’s into all kinds of seediness which we all know about but aren’t allowed to talk about. I know some rumours. Aren’t I a bitch,” sneers Johnny Rotten in his sullen whisper.

“I’ve seen how supposed antichrists turned into bourgeoisie, Bond Street shops, the McLarens have opened a new shop in Bond Street. Yes I find that really strange.”

In 1978 Savile, aged 51-52, was busy penning God’ll Fix It, and joining Lord Longford et al on their Porn report jaunts, having escaped unscathed from the BBC Payola report of Brian Neill QC in 1971, ending with Janie Jones prosecution in 1974 (whom Savile later quizzes on Myra Hindley offering his own opinion). Despite the tragic suicide of Clare Uffland (Savile abuse girl labelled ‘delusional’ after suicide˚) and the convenient loss of her diary,  Savile’s subsequent reckoning with God (or as God?), during his December 1976  ‘moment of enquiry’ at Qumran, Dead Sea, sees him as satisfied with the direction in which he has taken his life.

Post Sex Pistols Fred Vermorel gives an astonishing glimpse into McLaren’s agenda, specifically in fuelling the music industry’s interest in paedophilia with his 1980 launch of Bow Wow Wow and an attempt to launch a magazine called ‘Chicken’, formerly named ‘Playkids’:  From the Archives: ‘At the end they even stole his death’, Fred Vermorel, 24 March 2014 – GQ magazine

“I now saw Malcolm’s plot. This was to embroil EMI and everyone else in a paedophile sex scandal. That would make Bow Wow Wow even more notorious than the Sex Pistols.”

Maurice Oberstein (1928 – 2001), was credited as being one of the ‘chief Architects of the UK record industry’ (The Independent Obituary, 25 August 2001). Oberstein appears to have worked hard at creating an image of zany eccentricity and creative flair through a range of gimmicks. Below is a clip of Oberstein in 1985  at the Brit Awards with one of his dogs named after record executives he admired… and would pretend to take the advice of in business meetings – see Vermorel’s article for more on gimmicks used by Oberstein like ‘Talk to the hat’.

“[Malcolm’s] other agenda was a genuine contempt for the music industry. He used to say the music industry was run by child molesters, meaning it fiddled with the sexuality of young kids to peddle bands. And of course, that is true.

He would illustrate his point with a lurid anecdote of how one evening he and a companion visited the legendary CBS executive Maurice Oberstein at home.  Here, they found a young boy naked under a blanket on the sofa. Oberstein boasted he’d picked the boy up at a railway station. For Malcolm, that symbolised the corruption and hypocrisy that underlay Top of the Pops, and all the other music biz rigmarole.

But rather than denounce Oberstein, he sought to expose this latent industry paedophilia by exacerbating it. A situationist tactic that could also have been taken from the French philosopher Jean Baudrillard, who commended “the ecstasy of making things worse.”

Malcolm just loved “making things worse.” At the expense of anyone in the way.  Including 12 -year-old girls and photographers. Including me.”

Billboard Magazine, 26 July 1980

Billboard Magazine, 26 July 1980


2. 1984: Jilly Cooper, Barnes Common, Elm Guest House and the ‘Activities’

“During the ten years she lived at the edge of Putney Common Jilly Cooper walked daily on this expanse of green. For most of the time she lived there she kept a diary, noting the effects of the changing seasons and writing about her encounters with dogs and humans. The book is a distillation of those diaries: an affectionate and enthralling portrait – warts and all – of life on Putney Common. Never has Jilly Cooper written more lyrically about flowers, trees, birds and the natural world; more tellingly about the sorrows – as well as the joys – of caring for dogs and children; or more outrageously about the gossip, illicit romances and jealousies of life in a small community.” [From the Amazon synopsis]

For the newspaper coverage during August 1982 see Spotlight: Elm Guest House (The History of a Cover-Up) and Spotlight: In 1981 police were already investigation ‘child pornography ring’ linked to trafficking and murder and Keith Vaz and the Mystery of Barnes Common

Putney Common merges into Barn Elms Playing Field which Elm Guest House, no 27 Rocks Lane faced onto (MPs and Judges visited Elm Guest House, Coroner’s Court told, Exaro, 15 December 2012 and Met told of Savile’s link to Elm Guest House, Exaro, 16 February 2014). Jilly Cooper moved to the Cotswolds in 1982 leaving London behind and had her first big hit in fiction with Riders in 1985.

Fronting as a gay-friendly B&B used by politicians such as Sir Cyril Smith and Sir Nicholas Fairbairn (Solicitor Advocate for Scotland under Thatcher- more on him as defence counsel for spies in Dunoon here) and with reported links to Savile, it is also alleged the B&B catered to celebrities and members of the Establishment across a variety of institutions as well, all suggesting the small quaint Edwardian Elm Guest House was the source of a fair amount of gossip amongst locals if not for what was going on behind the curtains, but for the mere fact of the possibility of spotting a famous face disappearing through a non-descript door. Not least it seems from the gay house share four doors down from no 27 who share the gossip about the Elm Guest House ‘activities’ and wish to make it clear that being gay does not equate to being a child abuser, a point always worth noting. Where are those neighbours now 30+ years later?


Jilly Cooper's The Common Years

 3. 1987: Jerry Sadowitz & Savile ‘an expert in child abuse’

Nine years later, in the midst of the Cleveland Child Abuse scandal and the year Savile turned  61, Jerry Sadowitz  “don’t fuck about, get an expert in, Jimmy Savile” (on which more to come from  Tony Really Loves Me, Sir Stuart Bell MP’s 2000 autobiography and his crassly titled When Salem came to the Boro published in 1989). In the 1997 documentary broadcast on Tuesday 27 May ‘The death of childhood’ was shown on Channel 4, it was reported that 93 of the 121 children at the centre of the affair had been fond by the courts to be at risk of abuse and yet, as has happened in Sir Stuart Bell’s Guardian Obituary from 13 October 2012 it still had to be edited for the repeated myth that the Cleveland Abuse Scandal was a lot of nonsense cooked up by social workers and doctors.


The Independent, 26 May 1997

The Independent, 26 May 1997


4. 1988: Savile on BBC’s Open To Question

Not strictly falling into the arena of artistic licence giving expression to truth when suppressed but more an example of where the Emperor’s New Ideology falls down like in the face of inquisitive youth, it was after all, the children who pointed out the Emperor was naked. A well-prepared 18-year old Krishnan Guru-Murthy hosts incisive questions from an audience of 16-18 year olds directed at Savile – the first of which suggests he is obsolete. At 11:40 a question is asked which places the programme at some point after Savile had been appointed to the Taskforce at Broadmoor, and turning Broadmoor into a holiday camp. Savile gets increasingly voluble and defensive to comments like  “you seem to be quite an egotist.” A tiny glimpse into what he would have been like had he ever been put on trial perhaps?

[What bike factory in Londonderry did Savile open?]

5. 1994 (4th January and 26th December): Jeremy Hardy and Chris Morris mock Savile with very different outcomes

Within seven years of Sadowitz making his biting comments on Cleveland, mocking Savile appeared to become a more mainstream sport during 1994, sandwiched between a brilliantly drafted letter published in The Independent (4th January 1994) by Jeremy Hardy who scathes his way through an obituary to Jim’ll Fix It and doesn’t hear a peep from Jimmy (now aged 67-68) –  to a fake obituary from Chris Morris on Boxing Day which sees Morris suspended from the BBC and starts 1995 with Savile suing the BBC for ruining his Christmas.

Dear Sir Jimmy Savile: A comedian’s words of valediction to the nation’s trusted uncle

“It is with great sadness that I hear of the demise of Jim’ll Fix It, the show that made children’s dreams come true, especially recurring nightmares about old men in track suits. We shall all miss that showcase for a great English eccentric, with his extrovert clothes and jewellery. I often think that if you had been an entertainer, you would have been a sort of heterosexual Quentin Crisp: the white hair, the baubles, the affected halting speech, the air of a time that has passed.

I stress your heterosexuality because, with all the speculation about the private life of Britain’s favourite bachelor, it has never been suggested in any quarter that your preference is for anything but the female. Indeed, you have regaled us with anecdotes about your dalliances, some of which happened in the middle of marathon races] You put the ‘fun’ in ‘fun run’.

Screen Shot 2014-08-12 at 16.43.15I always thought that if there had been a glamorous assistant on the show, you might have married. But it was never to be. Rather than have a family of your own, you became a trusted uncle to the nation’s children. In a way you are rather like God, only with money.

Over the years you have raised a great deal of money for charity. It might even be said that you made a career of it. I know you are rather modest about your good works, and a lot of the things you get up to never make the headlines, but perhaps it was your agent or publicist who let slip every so often that as well as being a fundraiser and jogger you also do unpaid work as a hospital porter, such is your love of pushing the disabled around.

You clearly adore those less fortunate than yourself, which means most of us. But people with disabilities have had a special place in your studio. You wanted to elevate them from the status of mere people and make them mascots for the nation, filling our screens as a reminder that, but for the grace of God, we could look like that too.

As an active Conservative, you wish to free them from the shackles of welfare and public provision, remove the stain of dignity and independence, return them to the private sector with only the munificence of patronage to grovel to. One request before you go. My little girl would like there to be a National Health Service when she grows up. Can you fix it for her?

Your friend,

Jeremy Hardy”

By August 1994 Morris had already been suspended for 2 weeks for a fake obituary of Michael Heseltine MP a (The Independent, 21 August 1994) and was now required to work pre-recorded as opposed to live on air. On Boxing Day during a 2 hour show Morris did a fake obituary on BBC Radio 1 stating Savile had died, going out with a bang a the end of 6 months, one wonders whether he always knew he’d have to save Savile till last due to his litigiousness? Savile sued the BBC claiming it ruined his Christmas.

I am intrigued to read “Grave concerns” [The Times, Joseph, Joe (4 March 1995)] where a programme called The Obituary Show on Channel 4 included Savile reading his own obituary. “Now it is being repeated and Savile dies for us once again.” Please, no one join in with Savile’s edging ever closer to his own Christly self-image building. Would be interesting to see what Savile’s self-assessment in his own obituary for the programme tells us twenty years after Qumran in 1976 and sixteen years prior to his actual death.

The Times, 4 March 1995

The Times, 4 March 1995


6. 1997 & 2011: Val McDermid & Jacko Vance ‘Reality may be like this’ says Ruth Rendell


“Val McDermid grew up in a Scottish mining community then read English at Oxford. She was a journalist for sixteen years, spending the last three years as Northern Bureau Chief of a national Sunday tabloid.” When McDermid met Savile in 1977 she was working for the Sunday People in Manchester. She’d been so struck by his barely masked air of menace,that twenty or so years later her encounter with Savile and the rumours constantly circling him helped her create the character of a serial killer masking his means to dispose of bodies in morgues with volunteer charity work.

In the early hours of the morning on 1 October 2012, a few days before the ITV Exposure programme on Savile was due to be broadcast (with newspapers speculating on Savile’s darker alter ego), Val McDermid, the Scottish crime author tweeted:

@valmcdermid@bindelj I had Savile very much at the front of my mind when I created Jacko Vance in The Wire in the Blood…5:35 AM – 1 Oct 12


She said: “When I was working as a journalist there was always stuff about Jimmy Savile and young girls and stories that he was a serial predator.

“But it was a story we could never stand up because we could never get enough credible witnesses or a critical mass of people to make it happen.

“There was always talk but we never got to the stage of interviewing people who could make claims against him.”

She eventually told the story in another way – by penning two books featuring Jacko Vance – a serial-killing sexual predator who works as a chat show host and who enjoys watching the terminally ill die in hospital.

Ms McDermid now admits she largely based the character of Vance on Savile when she created him for her book The Wire in the Blood.

She added: “Jimmy Savile was very much in my mind when I wrote that character.” I based psycho on Jimmy Savile says Val McDermid [The Daily Record 28 October 2012]

I’d never read any Val McDermid so I did what any ex-book club member short on time and not having read the book does during their lunchtime… peruse the amazon reviews hoping for a plot spoiler and in doing so came across this:

Amazon reviewers said:

“In this case, the serial killer is a high-profile public personality described as the third most trusted person in England. McDermid’s descriptions of the hunt for this murderer, including the tangents and false leads, are well done. On the down side, the reader may have trouble keeping track of the many characters with common English names. McDermid’s graphic portrayals of the killer’s brutality may churn some stomachs.”

But it’s fellow crime novelist, Ruth Rendell, who comes closest to the mark with her review of the book:

‘This is a shocking book, stunningly exciting, horrifyingly good.

It is so convincing that one fears reality may be like this and these events the awful truth’

Ruth Rendell

Well precisely, and never more so than now it’s been revealed just how many similarities between Jacko and Jimmy were inspired by the rumours circulating Savile at the time. An attempt at a plot precis, now having read the book (very good I’ll read others but this one is over-shadowed by presence of Savile which renders it unenjoyable):

Jacko Vance, the third most trusted person in England, is a celebrity based in Yorkshire like Savile. The action is set mostly in Leeds and also at the coast to the East (Scarborough/Whitby way?) Jacko shares a distinct hatred for women with Jimmy (barring Savile’s few exceptions, notably ‘The Duchess’) and was on the surface a genial do-gooding celebrity. Jacko’s darker motive in volunteering for the local hospital in the morgue was a key to the morgue for late night access to burn body parts, including his own victims he’d imprisoned, tortured and raped.

Savile’s Autobiography As it Happens: An excerpt on “Frying My Own Pal”

 “Things happen to me that don’t really happen to normal people. A friend of mine in the South of England died and I went along to his cremation. On such occasions I really try to be inconspicuous but I am very difficult to disguise. Sure enough, creeping in behind a handful of mourners I am spotted by an eagle-eyed gardner. A tap on the shoulder and I am invited, by nods and motions, behind the scenes to the business half of the crematorium. Politely showing an interest in the somewhat gruesome impedimenta I am offered the well meant but astounding job of frying my own pal. This I do, guided by the experts, and rake out his ashes an hour and twenty minutes and several cups of tea later.” (As it Happens, p.118)

“To emphasize the wide variety of my happenings a husband once said he admited the work I did so much, would I like to make love to his wife of less than a year? This is I declined, but at the other end of the spectrum, at a hospital I had just called in at, I was asked by the short-staffed head porter if I could lay out the remains of an old man who had just been burned to death and his next of kin were coming within the next hour. This job I accepted because after all these years in the hospital world I am now quite good at that sort of thing.” (p.119)

Savile had waxed lyrical about death and being near death, as well as happening to hang out at the morgue in his autobiography As it Happens(1974) – Dan Davies gets across the repetitive monotony of Savile’s recurrent anecdotes, each a little parable in cold fear in In Plain Sight (2014) – and so any author seeking inspiration would have been able to read of this from 1974 onwards.

Jimmy was originally asked to help with the radio at Leeds General Infirmary, instead requesting Joe Tyrer, Head General Porter let him work in the morgue. Joe accompanied Jimmy and The Duchess to Buckingham Palace for his OBE in 1972. As to what he got up to in the morgue, Paul Gambaccini

So despite certain marked similarities, the ‘outlandish’ suggestion of Jimmy being a serial killer who used his morgue access to cover up his own crimes and otherwise treat it as his own personal playground, plus the fact Jacko was described handsome and charming, was sufficient subterfuge to mask the parallels between them to both Jimmy and the rest of us.

Since that first tweet Val has kept on speaking to newspapers, loudly and clearly: Scottish crime writer Val McDermid – Leading Tory will be named as a paedophile alongside Jimmy Savile and Cyril Smith (Daily Record, 30 August 2013)

7. 1996: Irvine Welsh & Freddy Royle in Lorraine Goes to Livingstone

Following Paul Gambaccini’s revelations regarding Savile’s necrophiliac interests of 23 October 2012 live on air and much to Nicky Campbell’s consternation, less than 3 weeks after the ITV programme exposing Savile, The Evening Standard published Irvine Welsh model Ecstasy necophiliac on Jimmy Savile? (Evening Standard, 24 October 2012) as a number of twitter users started to comment on the similarities in an Irvine Welsh novella they’d read.  A character in Irvine Welsh’s Ecstasy: Three tales of chemical romance novel, written in 1996, published in 1997, in the first section called Lorraine Goes to Livingstone, was the necrophiliac blackmailer Freddy Royle. In an interview with VICE magazine (31 October 2013) Welsh confirmed that he’d “heard some stories from people who work in the hospitals about Savile” and “it was also interesting to me that he was too big to take down.” (Irvine Welsh doesn’t regret choosing life, Nathalie Olah, VICE, 31 October 2013)

Screen Shot 2014-08-13 at 09.45.46

VICE Magazine, 31 October 2013, Irvine Welsh doesn’t regret choosing life

“..Freddy Royle, a necrophiliac TV personality. The hospital trustees turn a blind eye to Freddy’s nefarious pastime but have to do some fast talking when the new coroner begins asking questions.” Irvine Welsh

Rebecca Navarro, best-selling authoress of Regency romances, suffers a paralysing stroke. Assisted by her nurse Lorraine, originally from St Hubbins hospital, Rebecca plans her revenge on her unfaithful husband, Perky. Freddy Royle, hospital trustee, celebrity and necrophiliac, volunteers at the hospital and pays off morgue staff in order to abuse corpses. Perky and Royle run into one another at a Soho bookshop they chat casually over selecting porn.

When a famous rugby player dies at the hospital, the new pathologist Geoffrey Clements draws the attention of Alan Sweet, to the fact that the rugby player has been anally raped after death. Alan attempts to imply semen present would be due to changing room antics but Clements demands an inquiry. Alan and Freddy choloroform Clements and video him drugged being sexually assaulted/raped by two prostitutes as blackmail material.

As early as 1996 rumours of Savile’s necrophiliac driven desire for access to morgues was already in circulation since interestingly, both McDermid and Welsh choose to set scenes focusing on where, until recent reports of Savile’s necrophiliac activities, mainstream media was choosing not to go.


“Let me dwell on the phenomenon of being famous. I’ve not really had much time to think of it before. When I was ordinary I used to go to a turkish bath in Leeds. Sitting in the steam room would be an assortment of glistening, naked men. I used to wonder, why is that naked body rich and that one not? They look so alike now. It was easy to see why a rugby player was not a rugby player. God had just dished out a heavier or more muscular body than the norm. But why should one naked body command respect from another and what was the charisma that put one man well above his neighbour when we all sweated the same. I searched long for the answer.” (As It Happens, Savile, 1974, p. 75)


Nigel Hards, a former Thomas Cook employee in the Peterborough Telegraph 1 November 2011 – “recounted how Savile liked working at the mortuary at Stoke Mandeville Hospital, ‘because he thought it would be easier for loved ones if he was there when they came in.” (In Plain Sight, Dan Davies, Loc 7572). See further on my question as to whether Savile was on duty the night his old dancehall colleague from Ilford Palais, Bert Ambrose, was brought into Leeds General Infirmary Accident & Emergency?


8. 1998: Skinner & Baddiel ITV’s Fantasy World Cup – reminiscing on Skinner’s previous Savile

A letter from the mother of an 8 year old girl is read out asking when Skinner’s  Jimmy Savile World Cup comment slot would return as a feature of the show – Baddiel replies – “Jimmy Savile loves 8 year old girls don’t they, I won’t go on” and Skinner retorts “Jimmy Savile will love her slot, that’s what I’m saying”, and then proceeds to do a Jimmy Savile impression, which they then re-run with Skinner dressed up for full effect.

We need to talk about Jimmy: David Baddiel on why we shouldn’t let the Savile scandal sour the mood of a nation (Daily Mail, 29 December 2012).

9. 1999: Terry Wogan quips on Savile ‘haunting the corridors’ of BBC’s Broadcasting House

“I’ve heard stories of a strange haunted looking figure walking the corridors of Broadcasting House late at night, making a weird wailing noise, but enough of Jimmy Savile…”

10. 2007 (June – November): Angus Deayton ‘rapped’ or ‘censured’ for delivering scripted remarks?

Deayton rapped for Jimmy Savile gag (The Guardian, John Plunkett, Monday 5 November 2007)

Angus Deayton has been censured by the BBC for making a “pungently personal” joke about Sir Jimmy Savile and his late mother.

Deayton made the remark on BBC1 panel show Would I Lie To You?, his most high-profile job for the BBC since he was sacked from Have I Got News For You? five years ago.

“Sir Jimmy is quite keen on seeing how blue mouldy bits develop,” said Deayton.

“That’s why he stayed with his mum so long after she died. The blue bit in cheese is in fact a living fungus that smells slightly off and serves no useful purpose – much like Sir Jimmy himself nowadays.”

But not all the audience appeared to appreciate the joke. Nor did one of the show’s two regular team captains, Lee Mack, who told Deayton: “I am sorry but that is well out of order.”

The BBC’s editorial complaints unit intervened following a complaint from a viewer who said the joke had exceeded the bounds of acceptability.

“The scripted remarks, which focused on Sir Jimmy’s age and stories which had been current at the time of his mother’s death more than 25 years ago, were out of keeping with the tone of the preceding material and more pungently personal than warranted by his position in the public eye,” the ECU said.

The complaints unit, which deals with serious complaints about breaches of the BBC’s editorial standards, upheld the viewer’s complaint.

Deayton’s joke was included in an episode of Would I Lie To You? broadcast on BBC1 on July 28 this year.

It followed a part of the show in which guest panellist Claudia Winkleman admitted once writing to Jim’ll Fix It to ask to meet Abba.

She was offered the chance to find out how the blue bits were made in cheese instead.

The ECU said the issue would be discussed with the show’s producers – it is made by Zeppotron, part of Big Brother producer Endemol – and added the episode would not be repeated in its present form.”

Would I lie to You? (broadcast on 28th June 2007) was Deayton’s first re-appearance after 5 years largely spent in the televisual-panel-quiz-show-genre-wilderness following his sacking from the BBC for  a scandal involving prostitutes and cocaine use. If the Savile rumours were now ‘old news’ they’d circulated so widely, you’d see how one might feel a little narked at the hypocrisy if Savile’s behaviour appears to be puzzlingly both tolerable and employable by the BBC, especially as when made clear by the BBC’s Editorial Complaints Unit’s response, the remarks were scripted in any event?


‘Singing hymns to tigers’: Between McAlpine and Polaris – Holy Loch,Dunoon & Cowal, Argyll [1961 – 1976]

Screen Shot 2014-07-05 at 02.59.50

Dunoon, Cowal to Glencoe in the Highlands – Distance by car

photo (9)

Between McAlpine and Polaris, G, Giarchi, 1984 London: Routledge & Paul Kegan

photo (8)Recommended reading for Whitehall?

In amongst my readings on Savile (and others’ perceptions of Savile at the time through biographies and autobiographies) I came across what I thought was a fascinating book, or rather a piece of sociological research/Community Study published as a book, by one of Savile’s acquaintances during the Sixties, set in a location under 100 miles from Glencoe. Glencoe, or more specifically Alt-Na-Reigh was the location of Savile’s beloved cottage which he had first spied on a cycling trip somewhere during the 1940s as a teenager.

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BBC Report on vandalisation of Savile’s Glencoe cottage

What compelled me to purchase and read the book was the inclusion of this comment at the close of a book review featured in the Catholic Herald in 1985

“On the eve of the book going to press a local resident wrote thus to Giarchi: “The democratic structure of this nation is a hoax. The UK is ruled by the USA . . . no Parliament can control the situation.” The evidence gathered in the book makes it hard to refute such a depressing conclusion — this should be recommended as reading for those in Whitehall.” (Into a threatened Scottish Paradise, Catholic Herald, 15/03/1985, Stewart Foster)

About as heavy and hard-hitting a comment you could ever hope to evoke in response to publishing your doctoral thesis, one imagines!

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The title refers to the unenviable position of a town in Scotland on the firth of Clyde, Dunoon at Holy Loch under pressure of events beyond their control

1. The Military Invasion once the US Naval Submarine base Polaris was established in 1960

2. The Industrial Invasion with the influx of McAlpine navvies (navigational engineers – or construction workers on major projects such as canals or in this case, North Sea oil rigs) during

3. The bureaucratic take-over when the Dunoon Burg is annexed under the Glasgow administration due to regionalisation.

About the Author

Originally brought up in Dunoon as a child (during 1930s/1940s?), in 1967 George Giarchi had a brief sojourn with Savile in the spotlight as a Pop Priest (a Jesuit Scottish Redemptorist) conducting pop preach-ins and missions in London and Edinburgh. These were featured in The Tablet and The Catholic Herald. He returned to Dunoon over nineteen months, arriving in late 1974, the year of two elections, until February 1976 to conduct a unique sort of community study under a post-graduate studentship at the University of Glasgow financed by the Social Science Research Council.

From the Foreword

“George Giarchi knows Dunoon. He was brought up there as a child and holds its people in respect and affection. He achieved a long-nourished ambition when, with the support of a post-graduate studentship at the University of Glasgow, he was able to return and study the community. His project was an ambitious one but despite the cautious words of his academic mentors not to let it get out of hand, his enthusiasm was unbounded and was matched only by his energy. Community studies in Britain are something of a lost art these days. For one person to accomplish so much on his own is even more unusual. Once he escaped the confines of the Sociology department there was no stopping him.

What George Giarchi manages to convey is the way in which social changes occur in the community. Remote it may be, but Dunoon is locked into the wider military-political national and international context of the cold war and the economic context of the oil industry. In the course of his study some of the mystifications which obscure decision-making are revealed and the rhetoric with which the powerful seek to justify their actions made plain.

Between McAlpine and Polaris does not fit easily into the British tradition of community studies. With its concern to uncover the history that is made behind our backs this is a book which has definite affinities with the American muckraking tradition. There is a sharp awareness of the arbitrary way in which institutional power can shape the lives and destinies of people not only in the great metropolitan cities but also in the rural areas. This makes uncomfortable reading not least because much is done in the name of democracy, the national interest, or even Western civilisation that cannot be readily justified by rational argument. At least, however, the questions can still be asked  and the critical voice heard. So long as that remains possible the sociologist will have a public role to perform. George Giarchi has given us a book which is stimulating, sometimes humorous, sometimes disturbing and above all infused with a generous humanism.”

(Foreword, by Professor J.E.T. Eldridge, p. xi)

“George G. Giarchi is Head of Department of Social Work, Health and Community Studies at Plymouth Polytechnic. A graduate of the universities of Bradford, Leeds and Glasgow, he has had a varied career: in the 1960s he worked as a counsellor in several major British cities, and in the 1970s he was a social worker in Glasgow.”  

During 1967 Fr. Giarchi conducts ‘Preach-Ins’ in Manchester and Edinburgh “In Manchester 1,500 young people turned up every night for two weeks and in Edinburgh 12,000 went along to hear him.”

Screen Shot 2014-06-01 at 22.49.27 In October 1967, at the first Jesuit church in  London Church of the Immaculate Conception, Farm Street, Mayfair W1 built during the Counter-Reformation, Savile joins Father G.G.Giarchi on a Pop Mission for a variety of Preach-Ins.

“One of the highlights of the two-week “preach-in” is a 10-mile charity walk led by Jimmy Savile, the disc jockey. Fr. Giarchi had a bit of trouble over him with a girl from an international news agency. The wires got crossed and she thought Jimmy Savile had become a Jesuit.”

During the Fifties London’s Catholic High Society had worshipped at Farm Street, names such as Evelyn Waugh (father of Auberon, who would later comment of Savile that he, Auberon might as well babble of green fields because Savile had Thatcher’s ear so tightly held) and Clarissa Churchill (later to marry Anthony Eden) and Princess Diana’s stepmother Raine Spencer.

“Fr. Giarchi is a 36 year-old Scottish Redemptorist who turned trendy after a Christian education course at Corpus Christi Catechetical College. He’s already had big hits with his unusual approach. In Manchester 1,500 young people turned up every night for two weeks and in Edinburgh 12,000 went along to hear him.” (Flowers in Farm Street, Catholic Herald, 6 October 1967)

In March 1968 Giarchi has 200 nuns rocking at the Liverpool Catholic Teachers Federation’s conference on primary education- Lord Longford addresses the group and Bishop Harris receives a delegation from teenage girls on the subject of Authority and he asks them to be his links to teenagers.

*****Updated 23/07/2014******

Dan Davies’ new (and very detailed, horribly close and the more I read…haunting) biography of Savile ‘In Plain Sight‘ has this to say:

“On one occasion, [Savile] was invited to speak to a group of nuns who taught at schools in Lancashire. The event was organised by a Jesuit priest, Father George Giarchi, who Savile had worked with on a series of ‘pop missions for teenagers’.

‘Children want the chance to respect people,’ Savile told the sisters. ‘They know they’ve got to have authority, and that there must be a penalty when they do wrong.’ He explained that teenagers were ’80 per cent don’t knows, 10 per cent “right” people and 10 per cent hard cases,’ and advised the nuns to concentrate on the 80 per cent because ‘It’s better to save a load of the could-be’s, than waste time on the ones born to be double villains.’ As a parting shot he said that he would pray for them, adding ‘and I hope you’ll pray for me.’ He naturally failed to mention his own special focus on those teenagers that could not be saved.

Dave Eager told me he remembered accompanying Savile to some of Father Giarchi’s ‘preach-in’ events, which were aimed squarely at the young. ‘He was a character,’ Eager said of the priest. ‘It was all anti-drugs, anti-underage sex, live the Catholic life, that sort of thing.’ I tried on more than one occasion to contact George Giarchi, who left the clergy i nthe 1970s, for comment, but got no reply.

‘[The clergy] had never heard anything like it,’ Savile said after their first appearance together. ‘I was honest with them. I told them all about sex and drugs and the dangers. I didn’t mince words. And they believed me.'”


About the book

There’s a particular quote of Savile’s from As it Happens which conveys his creepy sense of pride as he would carefully increase and decrease the beats per minute of each record in order to lull or excite the dancing crowd before him  – which sometimes pops into my head in order to refocus my thoughts: “It wasn’t power; it was an effect.”

Professor Giarchi’s distinctly uncreepy and pragmatic approach to giving context in part manages to convey the hidden levers, influences and effects of change, and as his dedication suggests, owes much to the inspiration of Reverend Father Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844 – 1889), ‘ For Clare, who introduced me to the ‘inscape’ of Hopkins and widened my understanding of life’. Hopkins was an English poet, Roman Catholic convert and Jesuit priest who looked to describe in unique detail  moments in time or landscapes examining both the ‘outscape’ and the ‘inscape‘.

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Giarchi is a powerful lens in adopting such an interesting perspective, not just by looking for the inscape of Dunoon and the effects of change on people uniquely as well as a whole, but also in his choice of quote for Chapter 1 Setting the Scene. Karl Mannheim was a Hungarian refugee and Sociology lecturer at the London School of Economics who was briefly before his death, the Chair of the Institute of Education during 1946-47, and is perhaps best known for being a founding father of the sociology of knowledge:

“It is not to be denied that if the point of view from which the analysis is made were pressed further there would be much more to be explained. The extent to which a concept explains something can never be absolute; it always keeps step with the expansion and intensification of insight.” (Karl Mannheim 1936, Ideology and Utopia London: Routledge & Kegan Paul p.175 (1960 edition))

Preamble, Between McAlpine and Polaris, (1984)

Preamble, Between McAlpine and Polaris, (1984)

The holistic and thorough approach with which Giarchi takes care to piece together a snapshot in time makes for compelling reading and ultimately describes a perfect storm for increasing criminality and volatility in the local community not least which became the pressing issue of…

Underage Sex, Brothels and how to cater to the influx of US Navy and McAlpine Navvies

Amongst all the other drastic effects and changes, not least the annexation of the Dunoon Burgh into the Glasgow administration decimating local democracy, the influx of US Naval Ratings and McAlpine Navvies created a demand for young females that was to cause persistent tensions. In Giarchi’s book he charts the build up through excerpts from the local newspaper the Dunoon Observer to which he had access to the archives.

From the inception of Polaris in 1960 underage sex had become a problem, with illegitimacy rates doubling and questions being asked in Parliament.  Giarchi’s research charts glimpses of a burgeoning sex trade in the form of local brothels being forced further out of town, pushed ‘on the other side’ of the Clyde ,nearer Glasgow until more formalised arrangements spring up whereby the US Naval Sponsor would rent a flat to hold sexy parties to the essential role of taxis in ferrying punters and prostitutes, elevating them to an essential source of information on the goings on which Giarchi taps most successfully.

Singing hymns to tigers

A letter to the Dunoon Observer (5th May 1962):

“Disgruntled American would do well to remember that Scottish upbringing and education differs substantially from their own and that such a document as the Kinsey Report is unlikely to make us feel that their methods produce results we would like to see in this country.”

There was growing “local unrest over what many people regarded as sexual exploitation of Cowal girls by US sailors. Women locally had had a lesser place in cultural terms within a male-dominated society, none the less the sailors’ ‘dollie’ image of girls, and their US brand of male chauvinism (projected in their ‘hello baby’ attitude towards girls) troubled many local parents, especially the Presbyterians.”

photo (11)photo (12)

-Autumn 1961: Disturbances caused by the USN men ashore had forced the Captain of Proteus to introduce a curfew

On 1 April 1962 The Sunday Mail reported a deputation to Proteus to ask ‘Don’t date our girls call to Proteus’. ‘Presbyterian residents complained that USN personnel were dating girls who were under sixteen years of age.’ Local magistrates had grouped together to tell the Captain of the Proteus “Stop your men from dating schoolgirls under the age of 16.” The ship’s spokesman had replied: “Our men are expected to behave like gentlemen, but whom they date is a matter of personal preference.” “An irate father had complained about the typical American sailor who would court a schoolgirl under sixteen as someone beyond control, stating: ‘anything the Captain would say to this type of man would be as ineffective as singing hymns to a tiger’.

“But something more serious than the dating habits of the USN personnel had been raised. A young girl had written in the issue of 16 June 1962 stating that ‘there are brothels in Dunoon.”‘ (Dunoon Observer, 16 June 1962)

In August 1963 a VD clinic was announced as opening soon at the local Dunoon Cottage Hospital and following a police raid in August 1963 a Dunoon “call-girl” facility consisting of at least 22 girls was exposed (Dunoon Observer and Argyllshire Standard, 29/06/1963)

Chapter 10, p.234

Chapter 10, p.234


1967….Enter Peter Dorschel and Nicholas Fairbairn…

Giarchi doesn’t appear to mention one other consequence of Dunoon becoming caught in an axis of geo-political-military-oil tussling: like moths to a flame came wannabe spooks and real spooks.

Twenty years prior to publishing his autobiography ‘A Life is Too Short’ – Volume One (Volume Two is yet to be published and is unknown whether it was written before Fairbairn’s death in February 1995) in June 1967, Nicholas Fairbairn found himself defending a German spy accused of passing US navy information to the USSR under cover of a local hotel at Hunter’s Quay, a spot with a good view of the US Naval base Polaris at Holy Loch. Fairbairn had become a father for the first time just over a year previously, aged 33 or 34, and was in the process of a fling with Esther Rantzen as well as playing the character of John Profumo at The Traverse Theatre. His legal and political careers were yet to take off fully – it was to be five years before being made  a QC, seven years before being elected MP Kinross and West Perthshire, and twelve years prior to being appointed Thatcher’s Solicitor General, Scotland, missing out on the position of Lord Advocate much to his own surprise and chagrin.

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But back to June 1967:

“Now a new experience entered my life: serious broadcasting on television. Although I had frequently appeared on the box I had not previously been recruited to undertake a series. I did a pilot broadcast of the series ‘Your Witness’ on television which was chaired by Ludovic Kennedy and my advisers were the barbigerous Matthew Spicer and the seductive and goluptious Esther Rantzen, whose hypersensual voice has been such a balm and stimulant to television audiences. All three have been friends ever since. Returning to Edinburgh from the programme, I played the part, at the Traverse Theatre, of John Profumo in a dramatic production of the Denning Report, directed by Gordon MacDougall, who had quietly succeeded Jim Haines as the theatre director. His gentle and unruffable character had enabled the traumas of Haines’s departure to be passed over and the wounds to heal. I inserted into the script the apt words from the Rape of Lucrece:

‘Why should the private pleasure of someone
Become the public plague of many more?
For one’s offence why should so many fall
To plague a private sin in general?” (A Life is Too Short, Nicholas Fairbairn, Fontana, 1987)


photo (13)That June Nicholas Fairbairn defended Peter Dorschel at Dunoon Sheriff’s Court, his trial for spying having been transferred from Manchester where he’d been caught near Prestwich. Dorschel was an Eastern German, aged who’d been recruited by USSR and funded to buy a small hotel which he’d chosen in view of the Polaris base. At his trial he was convicted for offences under the Official Secrets Act, although his prowess as a spy was laughed at during the trial when it was revealed he had sent his spy bosses picture postcards of locations when they’d asked for photos.

“Spying does not play a very large part in the life of Scotland, so far anyway. It would if we became, which God forbid, an independent, oil-fired, tartan ruritanian tax-haven. I next appeared for one Peter Dorschel, a German who was charged that’ he tried to solicit and induce and endeavor to persuade another person to commit an offence under the Official Secrets Act 1911 for a purpose prejudicial to the safety and interest of the State.’ He did indeed obtain certain document which were an engineer’s plans of the lay-out of the lavatory in a Polaris submarine. I hope the Russians found them useful. Would that was all the plans they ever got. Lords Grant rightly and brusquely imprisoned him for seven years.”

One wonders how far Fairbairn’s defence caused much of the mirth, more so than Dorschel’s actions themselves or whether his acting talents ever tempted him into playing to the gallery with descriptions of  Dorschel’s bumbling foray into spying, characterised as a very brief, isolated incident, quickly nipped in the bud.

“Before she had the affair with Wilcox she had one with Nicholas Fairbairn MP. What did she learn from him about the political world? ‘Nothing.’ Too young? ‘I think he was a barrister then. What I did learn about was the law. That a clever defence lawyer can run rings around the police. Nicholas was a dandy. He designed his own bowler hats.’” (Esther Rantzen, Our Lady of LutonTelegraph, 08/01/2010)

And yet when reading about Giarchi’s observation that everyone appears to have ignored brothels being run in Dunoon five years earlier and the specific concerns of parents that US Navy Ratings seemed particularly focused on pubescent but young teenage girls under 16, one has to wonder if the means for Dorschel and others to make contacts to receive documents from the US Navy base was under cover of something with more leverage than merely a hotel?

 1. Did Nicholas Fairbairn ever finish Volume Two of his Autobiography – Volume One ends as he enters Parliament and I’d like to have read more about his long parliamentary career and decisions taken as Solicitor General for Scotland?

2. Did Savile ever read Between McAlpine and Polaris? You sense he already knew the business and criminal opportunities great change wrought upon local communities when he writes about the black market created out of the upheaval during WWII and how much he clearly relished living in Leeds ‘the City of Sin’? Residential care homes located within easy distance of military bases would be of concern.

3. I have a spare copy of Between McAlpine and Polaris should anyone in Whitehall wish to take up the recommendation. No postage necessary.