Following the release of the report into the extent of Jimmy Savile’s alleged abuse there is now the important issue of how his victims will be compensated. As he is no longer with us, Savile cannot be prosecuted, nor can he be libelled. If the allegations can be proved, on the balance of probabilities that the abuse occurred at the alleged places, then a claim can be made against the employers for vicarious liability. There is also a claim being brought in negligence which would require the victim to establish that the employer owed them a duty of care and that the employer knew and ought to have known that Savile was a risk to the victims in light of complaints they had received about his conduct and should have protected the victims against the risk that he posed. However, if the abuse took place when Mr Savile wasn’t in employment? A claim can then be directed against his Estate which is alleged to amount to over £4 million.
Once either of the above aspects has been satisfied the victims are at the peril of the law on limitation. In Scotland, a claim must be settled or a Court Action raised within three years of when they suffered harm in cases of abuse. In this case, the alleged harm clearly took place a long time ago. In recent times, there have been a growing awareness of such claims and courts have had sympathy with victims of abuse who haven’t spoken up at the time. It is my view that courts will be sympathetic towards victims of abuse because of the power Savile exercised over his victims which seems patent from the evidence which has been brought out in the last six months.
The task for the injury lawyer and moreover for the victims advancing claims is having to provide evidence that the abuse took place. Obviously, the pain and suffering, will be predominantly for psychological harm. Victims will have to go through the painstaking process of undergoing psychiatric review and that may be difficult where victims have suffered from earlier abuse or abuse since that alleged to have been caused by Savile. The process is undoubtedly going to be a painful one for the victims who have already had to live their life with a secret that some of them had tried to bring to light but nobody would believe them because of Savile’s position in society. The victims, their families and Savile’s former employers and his own family are left to pick up the pieces of this awful trail of destruction.