Sussex Police have been criticised for the way they handled an allegation of sexual abuse against Jimmy Savile while the disgraced TV presenter was still alive.

The director for public prosecution’s Principal Legal Advisor, Alison Levitt QC, examined complaints made to the police about the former Top of the Pop presenter.

Ms Levitt concluded prosecutions might have been possible if prosecutors and police had acted differently.

Ms Levitt said she found Sussex Police detectives had dissuaded a young woman form Worthing from supporting a prosecution.

In her report Ms Levitt said the Sussex Police detective constable investigating her case in 2008 “left her in no doubt as to how difficult it would be for a prosecution to take place because Jimmy Savile was a “big celebrity”; she said to me the police had told her no one would believe her.

She remembered DC T telling her that because he had plenty of money, Jimmy Savile would have the best lawyers, it would all take place in a “big court in London” and his lawyers would make “mincemeat” of her.

“She also got the clear impression from the police that she would be publicly branded a liar and that her name would be all over the newspapers, particularly if she 'lost the case'".

Ms Levitt’s report also found the Worthing victim also said she had not been informed about other victims who had come forward in Surrey, that had she gone ahead with a prosecution she would have been entitled to anonymity and  had she known that information she might have been prepared to cooperate in a prosecution.

'Difficult circumstances'

Sussex Police said they acknowledged the findings of the DPP’s report and accepted their officers may have inadvertently dissuaded the victim from supporting any prosecution.

But added “it can be difficult in such circumstances to achieve the balance between supporting and reassuring a victim, whilst providing honest advice about the prosecution process and standard of evidence needed.”

Deputy Chief Constable Giles York said: “Our priority is to be both professional and compassionate, with a focus on achieving the best outcome for victims and respecting their wishes.

“We welcome the DPP’s statement including the finding that the Sussex Police case was handled by experienced and committed officers, who acted in good faith, seeking to apply the correct principles.

"We also recognise that we could have done better and are committed to honest reflection and learning lessons for the future.

Reviewed information

“As soon as publicity about Jimmy Savile developed in October 2012 - before the DPP initiated his review - we started our own detailed Internal Management Review; including reviewing all of the available material, revisiting the victim in Sussex and speaking to the officers involved. A summary of that Review is available.

‘The DPP’s Statement today will help both police and prosecutors further improve how we respond to cases of sexual assault, whether current or historic.

‘We put victim care first and reflect on our actions and we note that the DPP’s Full Report is based on partial information.

Considering report

"We would have welcomed the opportunity to engage with the review and provide full access to our people and information, as we are doing with a similar review being conducted by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary’.

‘We will now carefully consider the full content of the DPP’s Full Report, with a view to updating our own policies where appropriate.

"We also pledge to work closely with the CPS and ACPO to take forward the broader ideas and proposals made in the DPP’s Statement today.

‘Meanwhile, I must reassure victims that they should continue to have the confidence to come forward and report this horrendous type of crime.

"We will always attempt to seek justice, even if many years have passed. We carry out many such investigations which often result in substantial sentences.

Read the full report to the Director of Public prosecutions here:

Details from a second report released today by Scotland Yard and the NSPCC can be found in The Argus report: Extent of Jimmy Savile's abuse revealed in new reports.

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