What is the TRUTH behind PM's Jimmy Savile 'smear' on Keir Starmer?

What is the TRUTH behind PM's Jimmy Savile 'smear' on Keir Starmer?

February 2, 2022

What is the TRUTH behind PM’s Jimmy Savile ‘smear’ on Keir Starmer? The facts and fiction after Boris Johnson accused the Labour leader of failing to prosecute notorious paedophile when he was DPP

  • Sir Keir Starmer was DPP from 2008 to 2013 before quitting to join as Labour MP
  • In 2009 decision made not to prosecute Savile after victims refused to testify
  • A 2012 inquiry found that Starmer was not personally to blame for the decision  
  • But Sir Keir did apologise for CPS’ failings, calling it a ‘watershed’ moment 
  • Boris’ allies say ‘ministers are routinely criticised for things in their departments that they are not personally responsible for’
  • But several Tory MPs have called on their leader to withdraw the ‘baseless personal slur’ 

A fresh faced Keir Starmer when he was appointed DPP in 2008. An inquiry would later clear him of any involvement in the failure to prosecute Jimmy Savile

Boris Johnson has accused former director of public prosecutions Sir Keir Starmer of having ‘used his time prosecuting journalists and failing to prosecute Jimmy Savile’.

But the Labour leader has said Mr Johnson is ‘debasing himself by going so low’ by repeating ‘a ridiculous slur peddled by right wing trolls’.    

And a QC-led inquiry exonerated Sir Keir, finding he was not involved in the decision not to put Savile in the dock two years before he died, blaming it on hapless starstruck police and an incurious local prosecutor. 

During Sir Keir’s tenure as director of public prosecutions from 2008 to 2013, detectives had sought advice from the CPS on four allegations that Savile had sexually assaulted girls and young women in the 1970s.

In October 2009, the CPS reviewing lawyer with responsibility for the cases advised that since none of the complainants was ‘prepared to support any police action’, no prosecutions could be brought. 

Savile, who abused 500 women and children, died in 2011 without facing justice. 

In 2012, after it became clear the Top of the Pops host had attacked and abused hundreds of children and women in hospitals, schools and while filming his BBC shows, an inquiry was carried out Alison Levitt QC, on Mr Starmer’s own orders. 

In 2013 her report found that the decision was made by police and prosecutors locally, not Sir Keir, who was unaware of it. The CPS would also say there was ‘no reference to any involvement from the DPP in the decision-making within a report examining the case.’

But there was some public criticism that as DPP, Sir Keir should have been more aware of what was happening in one of the highest profile cases in the UK at that time. 

And an ally of Mr Johnson last night said: ‘Ministers are routinely criticised for things in their departments that they are not personally responsible for.’ 

They also pointed to how Sir Keir issued an apology in January 2013 following the Levitt review. ‘I would like to take the opportunity to apologise for the shortcomings in the part played by the CPS in these cases,’ he had said. 

But a string of Tory MPs have called on their leader to return to the Commons to ‘withdraw’ the allegations against Sir Keir, branding it a ‘baseless personal slur’.


Boris Johnson was under fire in the Commons about Partygate when he accused Sir Keir Starmer of letting Jimmy Savile avoid justice. Mr Starmer looked furious as he heard the PM say it (right), claiming Tory MPs were similarly angry

Michael Gove said Boris Johnson had nothing to apologise for over his discredited claim that Sir Keir Starmer failed to prosecute Jimmy Savile.

The Levelling Up Secretary told Sky News: ‘I think this is a uniquely sensitive issue and it does need to be handled with care, and I listen with enormous respect to those who act for victims of the actions of a terrible, terrible criminal.

‘But – and it’s not a subject that I want to dwell on because it is uniquely sensitive – it is the case that the CPS apologised for the handling of this case and what happened in 2009, and I think we should acknowledge that an apology was given at the time and respect that.’

He added: ‘Keir Starmer acknowledged that mistakes had been made by the organisation of which he was head, to his credit. He was very clear about those mistakes.’

Alison Levitt QC found that police treated the victims and the accounts they gave ‘with a degree of caution which was neither justified nor required’. 

Savile also made veiled threats against officers if sexual abuse allegations against him did not ‘disappear’. 

Detectives looking at allegations advised the CPS not to prosecute Savile, believing his explanation that it was all made up and the price of being famous. 

Ms Levitt was also critical of the approach taken by the CPS’ reviewing lawyer, but did not suggest that Mr Starmer was personally involved in the decisions made.

The lawyer was also criticised for failing to properly build a case with the police or spot inconsistencies in their reports after interviewing Savile under caution and four of his victims. 

As head of the CPS, Sir Keir later apologised, admitting the failure to prosecute Savile was a ‘watershed moment’ for the organisation. But avoided any admonishment in Ms Levitt’s report.

He said: ‘I would like to take the opportunity to apologise for the shortcomings in the part played by the CPS in these cases.

‘These were errors of judgement by experienced and committed police officers and a prosecuting lawyer acting in good faith and attempting to apply the correct principles. That makes the findings of Ms Levitt’s report more profound and calls for a more robust response.’ 

Lawyer turned Labour leader Sir Keir then left in 2013 to pursue a career in politics.     


Sir Keir (pictured today) had no involvement in the decision not to prosecute Sir Jimmy Savile, and said the Prime Minister was using language by right wing trolls and conspiracy theorists 

Tory MP and former chief whip Julian Smith has also put the boot in to his boss, urging him to go back to the Commons to withdraw it

Senior Tory Simon Hoare has also said that the PM should 

Michael Gove said today that the Prime Minister has nothing to apologise about.   

Boris is ticked off by the Commons Speaker Lindsay Hoyle, but is not ordered to apologise

Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle said ‘procedurally nothing disorderly’ occurred when Boris Johnson alleged Sir Keir Starmer failed to prosecute disgraced entertainer Jimmy Savile, but the Commons Speaker told MPs today: ‘I am far from satisfied that the comments in question were appropriate on this occasion.’

Sir Lindsay kicked out the SNP’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford yesterday after accusing the Prime Minister of having ‘wilfully misled’ MPs over Partygate. 

In the same debate the PM said the former director of public prosecutions had ‘used his time prosecuting journalists and failing to prosecute Jimmy Savile’.

The Commons Speaker was asked about the exchange yesterday and said the PM had not broken any rules, but added: ‘I want to see more compassionate and reasonable politics in this House and this sort of comment can only inflame opinions.

‘I’ve got to say I want a nicer Parliament. And the only way we can get a nicer parliament is being honorable in debates that we have and please let us show each other respect’.

But despite this view, a flurry of Tory MPs have called on their party leader to withdraw his allegations. And victims of Jimmy Savile have argued the same.

Tory MP Julian Smith, the party’s former chief whip, turned on his party leader and tweeted: ‘The smear made against Keir Starmer relating to Jimmy Savile yesterday is wrong & cannot be defended. It should be withdrawn. False and baseless personal slurs are dangerous, corrode trust & can’t just be accepted as part of the cut & thrust of parliamentary debate’. 

And today Simon Hoare, MP for North Dorset and Chairman of the Northern Ireland Select Committee, said: ‘The Jimmy Saville false allegation should be withdrawn’.   

Mr Johnson was rebuked by the Commons Speaker yesterday over his discredited claim that Sir Keir Starmer failed to prosecute Jimmy Savile.

The Prime Minister faced calls from a Tory former chief whip to withdraw the ‘baseless personal slur’, while Sir Keir said it was Mr Johnson who was ‘debasing himself by going so low’.

Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle said he was ‘far from satisfied that the comments in question were appropriate’.

But Downing Street said Mr Johnson stood by his comments.

Mr Johnson made the comments on Monday when he lashed out at the Labour leader, a former director of public prosecutions, during Commons clashes about the report on alleged lockdown-busting parties in No 10. 

Questioned about the comments on Tuesday, Sir Lindsay said ‘procedurally nothing disorderly occurred but such allegations should not be made lightly’.

He added: ‘While they may not have been disorderly, I am far from satisfied that the comments in question were appropriate on this occasion.

‘I want to see more compassionate, reasonable politics in this House and the sort of comment can only inflame opinions and generate disregard for this House.

‘I’ve got to say I want a nicer Parliament, the only way we can get a nicer Parliament is being more honourable in the debates we have.’

Tories demand Boris withdraws Jimmy Savile ‘slur’ at Keir Starmer as Michael Gove admits Labour leader ‘did the right thing’ on CPS failures – as PM insists he WON’T apologise despite slap on the wrists from Commons Speaker

Boris Johnson caused a storm in the Commons on Monday when he jibed that Keir Starmer ‘spent most of his time prosecuting journalists and failing to prosecute Jimmy Savile’ at the CPS

Boris Johnson today batted away calls to withdraw his Jimmy Savile ‘slur’ at Keir Starmer despite anger from Tories and the Speaker.

The PM caused a storm in the Commons on Monday when he jibed that the Labour leader had ‘spent most of his time prosecuting journalists and failing to prosecute Jimmy Savile’ when he was head of the CPS.

Sir Keir denounced the attack as a ‘ridiculous slur peddled by Right-wing trolls’ and claimed Mr Johnson had ‘debased’ himself. 

But Mr Johnson has insisted: ‘As far as I’m aware, it’s fairly accurate.’ 

In a round of interviews this morning, Cabinet minister Michael Gove gave the premier limited support saying he did not need to apologise.  

But he said he ‘respected’ Sir Keir’s position. ‘In a uniquely sensitive case Keir Starmer acknowledged that mistakes had been made by the organisation of which he was head. To his credit he was very clear about those mistakes,’ he told Sky News.

‘He brought in an independent lawyer to look at that. And I think that we should recognise that in doing that he did the right thing.’

Deputy PM Dominic Raab also seemed uncomfortable about the row yesterday, saying he could not ‘substantiate’ the swipe. 

Senior Conservative MP Simon Hoare said today that ‘the Jimmy Savile false allegation should be withdrawn’. 

In a round of interviews this morning, Cabinet minister Michael Gove gave the premier limited support saying he did not need to apologise

Yesterday former chief whip Julian Smith called on the PM to withdraw the ‘false and baseless’ attack.

‘The smear made against Keir Starmer relating to Jimmy Savile yesterday is wrong and cannot be defended,’ he said. 

‘It should be withdrawn. False and baseless personal slurs are dangerous, corrode trust and can’t just be accepted as part of the cut and thrust of parliamentary debate.’ 

Sir Keir accused Mr Johnson of ‘going so low’ with the claim and accused him of repeating ‘a ridiculous slur peddled by right wing trolls’ who claimed he personally took the decision not to put Savile in the dock in 2009.

A 2013 QC-led inquiry found the decision was made by police and prosecutors locally and the now Labour leader was not personally to blame.

The CPS confirmed at the time there was ‘no reference to any involvement from the DPP in the decision-making within a report examining the case’.  

But an ally of Mr Johnson last night said: ‘Ministers are routinely criticised for things in their departments that they are not personally responsible for.’ 

They also pointed to how Sir Keir issued an apology in January 2013 following a review. ‘I would like to take the opportunity to apologise for the shortcomings in the part played by the CPS in these cases,’ he had said.

A Tory source told the Sun: ‘It’s simply a matter of fact that Starmer was running the CPS at the time they decided not to charge Savile. 

‘As leader of the organisation at the time, what action did he take against people who were personally responsible?’  

But victims of Savile have called for Mr Johnson to withdraw his ‘flippant’ attack on the Labour leader. 

The women said they were left ‘furious’ by his comments in the House of Commons that ‘triggered all the flashbacks’.     

Miss A, a Savile victim, told LBC: ‘To have the PM say this… I was furious . It was like he was using it as a flippant thing for other people’s purposes.

She added: ‘It triggered all the flashbacks, the memories. I can’t begin to tell you how upset I was. It was so unnecessary.’

A lawyer who represented some of the victims said they had called for the PM to withdraw him comments.

Richard Scorer, head of abuse and public inquiries at law firm Slater and Gordon, said: ‘I echo the widespread disgust at what we saw and heard in the House of Commons yesterday as Boris Johnson tried to distract from the Sue Gray update.

‘As one of the lawyers who represented many of Savile’s victims, I can confirm that these allegations against Sir Keir Starmer are completely unfounded and unjustified.

‘Sir Keir did more than any other director of public prosecutions to advance the rights of victims. No DPP can control every decision.

‘The Crown Prosecution Service was much better under his leadership.

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