LONDON (AP) — Classified documents being made public Friday detail how now-disgraced BBC entertainer Jimmy Savile was comfortable at the heart of the British government during his heyday in the 1980s, lunching with Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher at her country home, sending her jokey thank-you notes and lobbying for tax breaks and contributions for his charitable works.
The papers include an unnerving handwritten note from Savile to Thatcher in which he claims that his "girl patients" are pretending to be jealous because of the time he spent dining with the prime minister.
Only with hindsight does the note seem in dubious taste. In recent months Savile — who died last year at age 84 — has been accused of being a serial abuser of hundreds of underage girls. Investigators have called him one of the worst sex offenders in British history and said he used his TV stardom and charity commitments to help him gain access to vulnerable teens.
The platinum-haired, garishly-dressed Savile received a knighthood from Thatcher's government and other honors. He was rumored to be involved with child sex abuse, but was never charged with any crimes.
The National Archives file detailing some of Savile's dealings with the Thatcher government show not only his extraordinary access to the highest levels of government but also that Cabinet ministers took his role as a charity advocate seriously and discussed how best to deal with his requests. The file includes an April 14, 1980 letter from Thatcher to Savile that begins with the greeting, "Dear Jimmy." In it she discusses plans to change tax rules in a way that will give "considerable encouragement" to charities.
The Savile letter to Thatcher is fawning: "I waited a week before writing to thank you for my lunch invitation because I had such a superb time I didn't want to be too effusive," he begins.
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