So they put Jimmy Savile in charge of Broadmoor? Even if you didn’t know he was a rapist, that would be…head-burstingly weird and inappropriate. It’s yet another reason to think Chris Morris’s life work is a documentary.
So, whodunnit? A valid question, especially as Grant Shapps, the man with two faces and half a brain, is being wheeled out to go after the BBC. Yes, the organisation is responsible. No, Shapps isn’t the minister responsible for broadcasting, for child protection, for justice, for the police, or for the NHS, but rather a Conservative Party official responsible for talking points distribution. How could it happen? I mean, how?
How could it happen, indeed? The Secretary of State for Health at the relevant moment was Kenneth Clarke. Clarke says he remembers nothing, although so did Ernest Saunders, but he has a better excuse – when he took over the Department of Health, his first task was to demerge it from the Department of Social Security, which must have been an epic bureaucratic exercise. The final decision to replace Broadmoor’s management was taken in “the following month” after Clarke was appointed on the 25th of July 1988, so some time in August, 1988.
Who was in charge before him? Step forward, “Mr Privatisation”, John Moore. A Dean Witter vice president, he was officially the jeune cadre dynamique of the time because his wife made him spend 30 minutes a day on the exercise bike. The recent past is another planet. Anyway, he developed pneumonia, kept going to cabinet, keeled over during a meeting, and took himself off to a private clinic. Rodney Bickerstaffe of UNISON got hold of this information and briefed it out to the press. Anyway, he’d already lost the civil servants and his junior ministers, and as a result he was sacked and sent to the Lords. Last year, he was still to make his maiden speech in the great reviewing chamber of experts.
But surely someone was continuously present in the DHSS and then the DoH over the change? Yes. In so far as we’re talking about politicians rather than civil servants, Moore had two ministers of state under him, one for the NHS, one for social security. Those were Edwina Currie and John Major, forging a love affair over the red boxes. I struggle to see Major recommending Savile to anyone, and anyway it wasn’t his area of responsibility.
On the other hand, it was certainly Edwina Currie’s as minister of state for health, and anyway it’s not as if the lady from Strictly Come Dancing series 9 and Liverpool is averse to publicity, celebrity, or professional northerners on the make. I recommend a robust security-style interview, which is my default position with regard to anyone who is ever described as a “great fund-raiser”. (Think about it. Lord Levy. Jeffrey Archer.) More to the point, it would be great if someone in the national press was to have a look at exactly which charitable organisations the two of them were both directors of.