The former BBC journalist who exposed Jimmy Savile’s sickening sex crimes believes Manchester is at the heart of the decades of horrific child abuse committed by the TV personality.
The International Anthony Burgess Foundation in Manchester hosted an eye-opening talk, presented by investigative journalist Meirion Jones, on Thursday evening.
The event was the second in the Anotherway Now series, featuring discussions on ‘brave choices’ made by individuals.
The evening, a creation of training and development company Anotherway Associated Ltd, began with a human touch.
A lady stood in front of an intimate and captivated Manchester crowd and thanked Meirion.
She praised him for giving her the courage to speak out and report that she was a rape victim.
His commitment to ensuring Savile’s victims were heard encouraged her to make this brave choice 20 years after her horrific ordeal.
Following this, a humbled Mr Jones took to the stage set for a night of emotion, passion and revelations.
The award-winning journalist pulled no punches in his anticipated introduction as he addressed the recent online abuse he has received.
‘Attack me, do not attack my family’ were the first words put to his audience.
Mr Jones then chronologically told his story, explaining how Manchester played a major role in the Saville cover-up.
“He has a presence here in Manchester,” he said.
“There were people in Manchester that knew, including police officers and journalists,” he said.
“There were hints and more than that.
“Leeds police also have a lot to answer for. Individuals tried to act but as an institution they did nothing.”
“There are allegations about individuals in Manchester police in the 1970s but not to the extent of those in Leeds.”
When questioned on his motivation behind the investigation, Mr Jones explained that making the women heard was the primary reason for his exposure of Savile.
He detailed the brave choice made by one victim in particular, Karen Ward, whose willingness to speak out about her ordeal allowed his team to expose her abuser.
Mr Jones spoke about the politics, structure and values of the BBC in depth.
He described the moment his story was ‘derailed’ by his editor, as the BBC opted to instead broadcast a Christmas tribute to Savile following his death in 2011.
The impression he received from those above was clear: “If you open your mouth, everything, the house of cards that is the BBC, is going to come down.”
Being defiant against his editor’s decision ultimately cost him his job at the BBC, the corporation he described as being structured like ‘a colonial army’.
But Mr Jones admitted he regretted nothing having been adamant where his priorities lay.
“My loyalty to the story was far stronger than my loyalty to BBC managers,” he said.
Mr Jones’s account offered thoughtful insights not only into Jimmy Savile’s crimes and the BBC’s handling of the situation, but also provided a lesson in how to carry out informed and driven investigative journalism.
Anotherway Now will hold their third event in the ‘brave choices’ series on January 14, featuring a session presented by heavily commended scientist and author Rupert Sheldrake.
He will discuss the ideas that have granted him acclaim as one of the most important engaging and controversial figures in modern science.