Sussex: Detectives To Face Investigation Over Savile Claims

Two detectives accused of dissuading one of Jimmy Savile's alleged sex crime victims from supporting a prosecution in 2008 have been referred to the police watchdog.

Earlier this year a report by the Crown Prosecution Service found that while the officers' actions might have been unintentional, the woman was put off backing court action by comments they made.

One of the officers, identified only as DC T, allegedly told the woman that a prosecution would be difficult because Savile was a "big celebrity'', and that the late DJ's wealth meant he would have top lawyers who would make "mincemeat'' of her.

He and another officer, DS O, also wrongly told her that her claims would need to be corroborated before any prosecution.

Today the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) said it has directed Sussex Police to refer the conduct of the pair over their handling of the alleged indecent assault.

The woman came forward in March 2008 to claim that disgraced television presenter Savile assaulted her in a caravan in around 1970 when she was in her early 20s.

She withdrew her support for police action because she feared she would struggle to find the information they said they needed, for example contact details for people she knew at the time.

In the CPS report, legal adviser Alison Levitt QC said: "Looking at the documents created in 2008, I found it difficult not to conclude that the officers had, even if unintentionally, dissuaded her from pursuing her allegation. Insofar as she was led to believe that 'corroboration' was required before a prosecution could take place, this was wrong as a matter of law.''

She was asked to look again at a decision not to prosecute Savile in 2009, when the woman's claim and three other allegations made to Surrey Police were presented to the CPS.

In the report, Ms Levitt admitted that prosecutors had missed a chance to charge Savile while he was alive, because victims were not taken seriously enough.

She found that ''had the police and prosecutors taken a different approach'', prosecutions could have been possible in relation to three victims.

A spokesman for Sussex Police said: "In February this year we received a request from the IPCC, seeking relevant documents and our view on the potential for any police misconduct investigation, in relation to the 2008 sexual offence allegation against the late Jimmy Savile.

"We sent a full response to the IPCC in March and received a letter from them on November 1 requiring us to record a misconduct matter in relation to both officers referred to, and to refer it back to the IPCC for their decision on how it should be investigated.

"We will comply with that requirement and work with the IPCC on any next steps. The two officers continue their normal duties in Sussex Police at this time and have not been suspended.''