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Fact Check-No evidence UK’s Keir Starmer was directly involved in failing to prosecute Jimmy Savile

Speculation circulating online in 2020 has resurfaced on social media claiming that UK Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer was responsible for failing to prosecute Jimmy Savile, the late TV and radio presenter revealed after his death to be one of Britain’s most prolific sex offenders. Starmer was the head of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) at the time of the incidents, but he was not the reviewing lawyer for the case, the CPS said and a report on the handling of the cases showed.

Social media users shared the claims here , here , here.

“The man that decided that there was 'insufficient evidence' to charge Savile, is now the 'leader' of the UK Labour government Party,” one of them wrote in a post (here), adding: “'Sir' Keir Starmer.”

But the suggestion of a link between the handling of the cases and Starmer is baseless.

The CPS is in charge of prosecuting crimes in England and Wales and is independent from the police and government (www.cps.gov.uk/about-cps).

Starmer, the current Labour Party leader, was the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and Head of the CPS from 2008 until 2013 (here).

He was not the reviewing lawyer in charge of probing the Savile allegations.

The CPS told Reuters in an email that there is no reference to any involvement from the DPP in the decision-making within a report (here) examining the case.

The CPS said the reviewing lawyer for the case set out their own reasons for the decisions they made, which are reproduced in the report.

Four allegations of sexual assault by Savile in the 1970s were made to Surrey and Sussex Police in 2007 and 2008 (here).

Savile was interviewed under caution by Surrey Police in October 2009 but no arrest was made.

Surrey Police consulted the CPS for advice about the allegations, according to a 2013 CPS statement made by Starmer as DPP (here).

In 2012, Starmer appointed his Principal Legal Advisor, Alison Levitt QC, to examine the decisions made by the CPS in relation to the 2007 and 2008 allegations.

Levitt’s findings are laid out in a report here , which Starmer published in full in 2013 (here).

The report found that in October 2009, the CPS lawyer responsible for the cases advised that no prosecution could be brought on the grounds that none of the complainants were “prepared to support any police action”.

Levitt said she found nothing to suggest decisions not to prosecute were “consciously influenced by any improper motive on the part of either police or prosecutors”.

Levitt said in the report that Savile might have been prosecuted if the police and prosecutors took a different approach.

Starmer subsequently criticised the handling of the allegations by police and prosecutors in his 2013 statement on the report. He also apologised for “shortcomings in the part played by the CPS in these cases” and said he hoped it would be a “watershed moment” for the handling of such complaints.

Since his death aged 84 in 2011, a series of inquiries and investigations found Savile was responsible for six decades of sexual assault and abuse of hundreds of children and women (here).

VERDICT

False. There is no evidence to suggest Sir Keir Starmer, then DPP of the CPS, was directly involved in the decision not to prosecute Jimmy Savile.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work here.

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