When Louis asked Jimmy about being a paedophile

A scene from the 2000 interview shows the allegations were a long time coming.

The culture of silence around the apparently widely known allegations that Jimmy Savile abused children who appeared on Jim'll Fix It in the 1970s was strong, but not impermeable. One of the few people to break it - even slightly - was broadcaster Louis Theroux, who had the following conversation with Savile in When Louis Met Jimmy, which aired in April 2000:

Voiceover: We were nearing the end of our time together, and as we headed back to Leeds, it was clear that Jimmy was pleased about the press coverage of his broken ankle.

But it struck me that his relationship with the press hasn't always been a happy one.

Louis: So, why do you say in interviews that you hate children when I've seen you with kids and you clearly enjoy their company and you have a good rapport with them? 

Jimmy: Right, obviously I don't hate 'em. That's number one. 

Louis: Yeah. So why would you say that then? 

Jimmy: Because we live in a very funny world. And it's easier for me, as a single man, to say "I don't like children" because that puts a lot of salacious tabloid people off the hunt. 

Louis: Are you basically saying that so tabloids don't, you know, pursue this whole 'Is he/isn't he a paedophile?' line, basically? 

Jimmy: Yes, yes, yes. Oh, aye. How do they know whether I am or not? How does anybody know whether I am? Nobody knows whether I am or not. I know I'm not, so I can tell you from experience that the easy way of doing it when they're saying "Oh, you have all them children on Jim'll Fix It", say "Yeah, I hate 'em." 

Louis: Yeah. To me that sounds more, sort of, suspicious in a way though, because it seems so implausible. 

Jimmy: Well, that's my policy, that's the way it goes. That's what I do. And it's worked a dream. 

Pause

Louis: Has it worked? 

Jimmy: A dream. 

Pause

Louis: Why have you said in interviews that you don't have emotions? 

Jimmy: Because it's easier. It's easier. You say you've emotions then you've got to explain 'em for two hours. 

Jimmy: The truth is I'm very good at masking them. 

The scene is not online, but the chat begins at 44:40 in this episode.

Louis and Jimmy. Photograph: BBC

Alex Hern is a technology reporter for the Guardian. He was formerly staff writer at the New Statesman. You should follow Alex on Twitter.

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The problems with ending encryption to fight terrorism

Forcing tech firms to create a "backdoor" to access messages would be a gift to cyber-hackers.

The UK has endured its worst terrorist atrocity since 7 July 2005 and the threat level has been raised to "critical" for the first time in a decade. Though election campaigning has been suspended, the debate over potential new powers has already begun.

Today's Sun reports that the Conservatives will seek to force technology companies to hand over encrypted messages to the police and security services. The new Technical Capability Notices were proposed by Amber Rudd following the Westminster terrorist attack and a month-long consultation closed last week. A Tory minister told the Sun: "We will do this as soon as we can after the election, as long as we get back in. The level of threat clearly proves there is no more time to waste now. The social media companies have been laughing in our faces for too long."

Put that way, the plan sounds reasonable (orders would be approved by the home secretary and a senior judge). But there are irrefutable problems. Encryption means tech firms such as WhatsApp and Apple can't simply "hand over" suspect messages - they can't access them at all. The technology is designed precisely so that conversations are genuinely private (unless a suspect's device is obtained or hacked into). Were companies to create an encryption "backdoor", as the government proposes, they would also create new opportunities for criminals and cyberhackers (as in the case of the recent NHS attack).

Ian Levy, the technical director of the National Cyber Security, told the New Statesman's Will Dunn earlier this year: "Nobody in this organisation or our parent organisation will ever ask for a 'back door' in a large-scale encryption system, because it's dumb."

But there is a more profound problem: once created, a technology cannot be uninvented. Should large tech firms end encryption, terrorists will merely turn to other, lesser-known platforms. The only means of barring UK citizens from using the service would be a Chinese-style "great firewall", cutting Britain off from the rest of the internet. In 2015, before entering the cabinet, Brexit Secretary David Davis warned of ending encryption: "Such a move would have had devastating consequences for all financial transactions and online commerce, not to mention the security of all personal data. Its consequences for the City do not bear thinking about."

Labour's manifesto pledged to "provide our security agencies with the resources and the powers they need to protect our country and keep us all safe." But added: "We will also ensure that such powers do not weaken our individual rights or civil liberties". The Liberal Democrats have vowed to "oppose Conservative attempts to undermine encryption."

But with a large Conservative majority inevitable, according to polls, ministers will be confident of winning parliamentary support for the plan. Only a rebellion led by Davis-esque liberals is likely to stop them.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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