Savile scandal threatens reputation of individuals and institutions

The inferno of the Jimmy Savile scandal, through its destruction of posthumous reputation, threatens to burn the good names of living individuals and institutions.

Ian Monk: 'For all their self-righteous fury, papers have little cause for celebration in their failure to expose Saville in his lifetime'
Ian Monk: 'For all their self-righteous fury, papers have little cause for celebration in their failure to expose Saville in his lifetime'

In doing so it poses tough challenges to those charged with defending the living from the spreading flames of allegation, innuendo and assumption.

In disrespect to the memory of Savile, there follows a top ten of observations worthy of consideration by the PR firefighters.

At number one is the certainty that vile Savile is not the principal target of the press' fury. Its real fire is aimed at the BBC, motivated by revenge on the corporation for visiting Leveson on it and the broadcast reporting of the judge's inquiry into press ethics.

Second, for all their current self-righteous fury and investigative zeal, newspapers have little cause for celebration in their failure to expose Savile's criminality during his lifetime. Had they done so, they would have fulfilled the public interest and service remit they sought so powerfully to put before Leveson.

At number three is the fact dead men don't sue. Charting at four is the hit that those already convicted of sex offences - Gary Glitter and Jonathan King - take to their ability to achieve redress against virtually anything written about them.

Fifth place goes to the idiotic PR response of Freddie Starr. By insisting he had never met his accuser he left himself a hostage to the inevitable fortune of the emergence of grainy pictures of the two of them together.

At number six is the likelihood that some of the accusers are damaged individuals themselves.

Intrinsically linked at seven is the effect of the twin modern cultures of victimhood and compensation on the portrayal of some of the claimants' stories.

Charting at eight is the untenable position of Esther 'Childline' Rantzen, whose credibility is now shredded.

At number nine is how exactly charges are going to be brought in the eternal absence of the star defendant.

And at ten is the question of how to weigh presumed sins of the past against the changed values of the present.

Ian Monk is founder of Ian Monk Associates and a former executive at the Daily Mail and The Sun

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