Jimmy Savile: Is it wrong to vilify someone who cannot defend themselves?

In ethical terms, are the Jimmy Savile accusations justified as he cannot defend himself?

‘Now then, now then, now then…’ You MUST have heard of Jimmy Savile. If not for his golden years then for the recent shocking revelation that has tarnished the BBC and questioned a whole generation.

For those of you who are unfamiliar, the late Jimmy Savile was once a household name, a TV icon of the 70’s and 80’s, praised for his seemingly selfless generosity. He was a child’s hero, with a heartfelt promise to fulfil their dreams.


This video was posted a year ago, the word ‘tribute is reminiscent of the past. Oh how much has changed.

Within a whirlwind of media events his name has been tarnished forever. It would appear that Savile has abused his position of authority, taking advantage of young children’s adoration and trust. Victims have come forward with a number of accounts of sexual abuse. The once loved, kooky BBC icon has turned into a manipulating paedophile.

“That’s when he put his hand on my knee and started touching me and then at the same time he grabbed my hand and forced my hand on top of his trousers,”

Disgusting beyond words isn’t it?

If Savile is guilty, by no means does he deserve even the chance of redemption. However this does bring us to the ethical issue of the fact that Savile is in fact dead. Without doubt the sheer number of victims/witnesses should speak for itself but is it right that he hasn’t shared one word on the matter?

Should everyone not have the chance to voice their side of the story?

This is an interesting case as the revelations after his death are severe, immoral and unforgiveable. I cannot begin to fathom what the victims were subjected to. It would appear that the fear of consequences and perhaps Savile’s credited reputation that stopped the victims from speaking out. Perhaps it is the knowledge that he has passed and they are finally safe that has been the catalyst to his destruction.

 However justice will never be served.


‘Justice: the administering of deserved punishment’.


Savile cannot be punished, and if the circumstances were different and he were alive today perhaps he’d plead guilty but on the other hand perhaps he wouldn’t. We cannot possibly know the full story without hearing it from ‘the horse’s mouth’.

So the question in hand is, is it ethical to accuse Jimmy Savile of such offences when he cannot defend himself. Can the full picture ever be truly understood?

Within an extremely short space of time a huge number of people have come out of the woodwork claiming to have been molested by Jimmy Savile. However the definition and boundaries of sexual abuse at the time of offences must also be addressed. The media has managed to create wide spread moral panic, allowing a feeding frenzy in terms of victims. It is now difficult to divide the truly horrific attacks from the people who have jumped on the bandwagon with a slap to the bottom or a graze of the leg.

It is important to remember that the 60’s were renowned for the hippy era and the stereotypical view of love and sex.

“Promiscuous, having wild sex orgies, seducing innocent teenagers and every manner of sexual perversion.”

This sexual culture was a way of life and was not overtly disputed with at the time.  So is it ethical to judge allegations upon today’s laws and morals?

It is debateable whether the whole truth of the Jimmy Savile case will ever be understood. Can someone ever be truly prosecuted when their mental state, motives and voice has not been heard? Let alone the issue that the victims will inevitably never gain true justice.

However putting ethics aside my heart goes out to those affected and although direct justice may never be served. It has opened the door to address sexual abuse and create awareness.

By Ellie Newton


One thought on “Jimmy Savile: Is it wrong to vilify someone who cannot defend themselves?

  1. How do you establish whether someone is guilty of a crime without forensic evidence? You can’t base legal judgements on allegations. The presumption of innocence is the only defence for everyman against malicious accusations and why convictions are based on facts and facts alone.

    My view is neutral – if there is evidence, let’s see it. But I am not so naive as to believe an accusation for someone who perhaps has a vested interest and wants to wear Jimmy Savile abuse as a badge of pride, to claim victimhood and to get componsation.

    I’ve been wondering where the evidence is. I’ve seen and heard a lot of allegations but other than that all I’ve seen is headlines in a number of newspapers pointing out that the BBC and Savile’s estate may have to pay out millions of pounds in compensation to those making the allegations.

    Reminds me a bit of that spate of people being shopped to the police as paedophiles in the late 90s because they’d taken a film to be processed and it included pictures of their baby/toddler/child in the bath or in swim wear at the pool or on the beach.

    Paedophilia is what I call a ‘guilt by accusation’ crime. Simply being accused of it is enough to create a presumption of guilt in a significant number of people’s minds. If brought to trial and acquitted the presumption is that they ‘got away with it’, similarly if the accused is never tried. Often even accusation isn’t necessary, you just need to be male and in the proximity of a child.

    I do wonder why there is this need to jump of the accusation band wagon. I also wonder if any of the children who go missing (one every 15 minutes according to reports) might have been saved if a passer by hadn’t been so afraid of being accused of being accused of being a paedophile or assaulted that they walked on by.

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