A veteran TV presenter has claimed he was “laughed at” by his bosses for raising concerns about paedo Jimmy Savile after seeing him grope a child – at an ITV studio.
In the first time the network has been implicated in the Savile scandal, ITV broadcaster Alan Hardwick spoke of his shock at seeing the shamed Jim’ll Fix It star brazenly pinch a young girl’s bottom in front of a room full of other youngsters.
But disgusted Alan, 63, revealed that Yorkshire Television managers told him that it was well-known the disgraced star “liked them young” when he approached them about the incident.
The 80s TV personality said his complaint was brushed aside and that comments from colleagues in the industry “made him feel like a fool” for making a fuss.
Alan, who presented Yorkshire Television’s flagship ‘Calendar’ news programme, said he was convinced TV execs had covered up Savile’s behaviour because of his popularity.
He said: “One time in the late 1980s, Savile was in the building and I was going to go and say hello to him.
“I went into the studio and standing with his back to me was Jimmy Savile with about half a dozen girls with him. They were probably 12 or 13.
“They were about to go on set so I decided I would speak to Savile later but before I could leave he squeezed the bottom of the little girl to his right who he had his arm around.
“The thing that’s always stayed with me was the look on the her face, it wasn’t quite horror but it was hard to describe.
“He turned towards her and gave her a huge grin.
“It was haunting, it has haunted me for 20 years, even since then whenever I have heard Savile’s name that’s the picture that comes in to my mind.
“I raised the issue with a manager, who said that the girl must have been a relative to Savile and was just being friendly and I accepted that.
“I mentioned it to other people in the industry and at the BBC and I was laughed at because they all said, ‘Don’t you know that Savile likes them young?’ I felt a bit of a fool.
“I took ‘young’ to mean ‘younger than him’ – maybe girls in their 20s – but not ‘underage’.
“I have been watching the various programmes on him with concern and total amazement – but mostly with disgust. Without a doubt his status protected him.
“It was generally known within television not that he was a predator or a paedophile but that he liked them young.
“I was quite willing to accept the word of the manager but looking back, even if it had been a relative of Savile’s, it still was wrong. It did not even occur to me at the time to take the matter further.”
Alan revealed that he once took his own daughter to meet Savile, and that she had taken an instant dislike to the star.
He added: “I remember I had been out on a job with him and I had taken my daughter who was about 10 at the time.
“I wanted to introduce her to who I thought at the time was a great person.
“He was great with her, signing autographs and then he suggested having a picture. He asked her to sit on his knee.
“Afterwards, she said she wanted to go to the car because she didn’t like him.
“I have no doubt whatsoever there has been a massive cover-up.
“It appears, at least to me, that bosses thought ‘we are not going to jeopardise the career of a man who draws in audiences of tens of millions’ and that, I believe, is why the truth never got out.”
The allegations came to light as Alan spoke ahead of the Police Crime Commissioner elections where he is standing in Lincolnshire.
An ITV spokesman said: “We would urge Mr Hardwick to contact us with details relating to the serious allegation he makes.
“We take any allegations of criminal activity within ITV or YTV, or to the knowledge of ITV or YTV, very seriously and would immediately contact the police in such cases, and follow up with our own inquiries.”