Operation Yewtree: what happened in Jimmy Savile investigation, and what other celebrities were investigated?

Former pop star Gary Glitter and celebrity publicist Max Clifford were also among the exposed sex offenders

In the past decade, the rose-tinted screen through which many audiences viewed some of Britain’s best known entertainers, DJs and celebrities has been smashed by revelations of child sex abuse.

The most reported investigation into such crimes by big names was Operation Yewtree, which ITV will delve into for tonight’s ‘Savile: Portrait Of A Predator’ documentary.

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Savile, among others, were uncovered by the investigation led by the Metropolitan Police in 2012.

So, what sparked the investigation and what was the outcome? This is what you need to know.

What was Operation Yewtree?

Operation Yewtree was a Met police investigation which began on October 4, 2012, in what was initially an assessment of accusation of historic child sexual abuse.

The investigation was launched following an explosive ITV documentary which aired on October 3, titled ‘Exposure: The Other Side of Jimmy Savile’.

In the documentary, former detective Mark Williams-Thomas researched and spoke with women who alleged Savile had groomed and sexually assaulted them during their childhood. The allegations included abuse which took place on BBC premises and in hospitals where Savile visited poorly children and fundraised.

Jimmy Savile with a former patient at Stoke Mandeville Hospital in 1980 (Picture: Getty Images)

Following the initial assessment period, the Met launched a formal criminal investigation into allegations of assault against individuals including entertainer Jimmy Savile and several of his peers.

While Savile had passed away in October 2011, the other accused were living and able to be held accountable.

By October 2015, 19 people had been arrested by Operation Yewtree; seven of these arrests led to convictions.

Operation Yewtree continues under the new investigation, Operation Winter Key, as the Met’s component to a larger British Police historic sex assault investigation.

What was Jimmy Savile accused of?

While Savile’s case was likely the most shocking - he had exploited his access to children through his charity and media work to groom and sexually assault them - others were also exposed.

A week after the police began their inquiries into the claims made on the ITV documentary, the Met formally recorded eight allegations against Savile, but announced they were following 120 lines of inquiry, covering up to 25 victims of abuse, mainly girls aged between 13 and 16.

British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher with Jimmy Savile at an NSPCC fundraising presentation in 1980. (Picture: Getty Images)

The allegations were over a period from 1959 until the 1980s, and were on "a national scale".

Commander Peter Spindler, head of specialist crime investigations, said at the time: "At this stage it is quite clear from what women are telling us that Savile was a predatory sex offender."

The joint report from the Met and NSPCC was prepared and published in January 2013.

Titled ‘Giving Victims a Voice’, it reported that sex offences were committed by Savile on 450 people, 328 were minors at the time.

His crimes took place across England, Scotland and Jersey. The vast majority of offences occurred in his hometown of Leeds and in London, while others took place in Jersey children’s home Haut de la Garenne.

The report referred to Savile’s celebrity status as allowing him to ‘hide in plain sight’, adding he used his ‘Jim will fix it’ as a means of accessing victims.

The victims were "mainly not known to each other", his victims ranged in age from eight-years-old to 47. Almost three quarters were minors at the time of the offences.

Which other entertainers and celebrities were outed as sex abusers?

When the formal investigation into Savile commenced, the Met announced it had unveiled “alleged abuse on an unprecedented scale,” which aside from Savile, included "lines of inquiry involving living people that require formal investigation.”

Gary Glitter

Garry Glitter photographed outside court during his hearing in 2015 (Picture:Getty Images)

1970s pop star Gary Glitter, real name Paul Gadd, was arrested on 28 October 2012 and later released pending further investigations.

Glitter was charged on 5 June 2014 with eight child sex offences dating back to the 1970s. In February 2015 he was found guilty of attempted rape, four counts of indecent assault, and one count of having sex with a girl under the age of 13.

The then 80-year-old was acquitted of the three other counts and sentenced to 16 years in prison.

Max Clifford

Publicist Max Clifford arrives at Southwark Crown Court on April 16, 2014 (Picture: Getty Images)

Celebrity publicist Max Clifford - his clients included Simon Cowell and Mohammed Ali -  was arrested on 6 December 2012.

He denied the "damaging and totally untrue allegations" and was released on bail until April 2013.

Clifford was charged with eleven indecent assaults against girls and young women between 1965 and 1985 and on 28 April 2013, he was found guilty of eight charges of indecent assault, acquitted of two charges of indecent assault and the jury was hung on one charge of indecent assault.

He was sentenced to eight years in prison on 2 May 2014, he died in December 2017, aged 74, after collapsing in his cell.

Rolf Harris

Australian entertainer Rolf Harris leaves Southwark Crown Court in London following acquittal of some charges (Picture: Getty Images)

Australian-born singer, musician and TV personality, Harris was questioned in November 2012, though the media did not release his name at the time.

The following March, he was arrested at his Berkshire home and the media began identifying him. In August 2013, he was charged via Operation Yewtree with 13 separate offences relating to the abuse of minors.

On 23 December 2013, Harris was charged with three further separate sexual assault charges which are against females aged between seven and 19, the assaults took place in the 1970s.

One of his victims was assaulted when she was just 13 and then he presented her with an “apology letter,” later used as evidence in his trial.

Sasha Wass QC, prosecuting, said "Mr Harris was too famous, too powerful and his reputation made him untouchable".

He was found guilty on all twelve counts in June 2014 and months later it was reported that further seven allegations had been made against him. He was cleared of three and the jury could not settle on a verdict of the other four.

For his crimes he received five years and nine months in prison in 2014, he was released in 2017.

Chris Denning

Former BBC Radio One presenter Denning was arrested in early 2013, on dozens of accounts of sexual assault.

In May 2014, he was charged with 41 sex offences and plead guilty. The offences took place from 1967 to 1987 and involved 26 male victims, the youngest having been nine at the time.

He was sentenced to 13 years in prison and later convicted of a further six sex offences as part of Operation Ravine, conducted by Surrey Police.

Michael Salmon

Salmon was not a well known face to the media or British public, instead he was a medical professional at Stoke Mandeville Hospital, where Saville had groomed victims.

On 6 February 2015 he was found guilty of nine indecent assaults and two rapes, with victims’ ages ranging from 11 to 18 and having occurred between 1973 and 1988.

While he worked at the same hospital Savile groomed kids, there is no known link between them.

Following two trials, he was convicted in December 2016 with 40 child sex offences, including one count of rape.

Although unrelated to Operation Yewtree, other high profile cases which ocurred around the same time and related to similar offences included television and radio presenter Stuart Hall, convicted of 15 counts of indecent assault.

ITV Granada weatherman Fred Talbot was also found guilty of sexually assaulting two schoolboys and sentenced to five years in prison.

DJ and friend of Savile, Ray Teret,was found guilty of seven rapes and eleven indecent assaults and was sentenced to 25 years imprisonment.

‘Savile: Portrait Of A Predator’ airs on 7 October at 9pm on ITV, it will also be available on the ITV Hub.