Steve Coogan has earned plaudits for his unnerving portrayal of the late Jimmy Savile, the notorious BBC celebrity and child sex abuser. The late Ted Heath, the former UK prime minister (1970-74) who died in 2005, was another child sex predator.
In 2017 after a two-year inquiry called Operation Conifer, the Wiltshire Police stated that if Heath was alive, he would face questions about the rape of a 16-year-old, three incidents of indecent assault on another boy, four indecent assaults on a male under 14 and two indecent assaults on a male over 16.
A man called Carl Beech claimed that Savile and Heath were part of a VIP vice ring that abused him. Beech received acres of media coverage in the UK but he was a liar. On July 22, 2019, he was found guilty of 12 counts of perverting the course of justice and one of obtaining £22,000 in compensation for abuse that he had not suffered.
The British media claimed Beech’s conviction proved Ted Heath was innocent and there was no VIP abuse ring at Westminster. Illogically, Savile, the vulgar pleb from Leeds, remained guilty in the eyes of the UK media.
In a recent review of Coogan’s portrayal of Savile, former Sunday Times editor Andrew Neil raged that before Beech “was rumbled as a liar, he besmirched” Heath’s reputation.
What had Beech to gain? After decades of impecuniosity, he was able to purchase a riverside property in the village of Overkalix, near the Arctic Circle, under a false identity, ‘Stephen Anderson’. All told, he had a budget in the region of £100,000 for his relocation.
When the British police issued an extradition warrant for Beech, he went on the run as ‘Samuel Karlsson’. He also had another identity, ‘Carl Anderson’.
The BBC’s Panorama programme, which conducted two investigations into Beech, never probed the source of his money nor the possibility that he had multiple passports.
Coogan’s four-part drama steered well clear of one of Savile’s more gamey friends, Lord Mountbatten, who has been linked to the Kincora abuse scandal (see The Phoenix 7/10/22 and 4/11/22).
Savile once boasted: “Whenever it came to doing anything, he [Mountbatten] would say, ‘I’ll cut the ribbon but get Savile down. He can do the speeches. He does it better than me’.”
Mountbatten introduced Savile to King Charles (then Prince of Wales), who said: “It was the respect that Lord Louis had for me. It meant what was good enough for Lord Louis was good enough for me [Charles]”. Savile advised the prince during his messy and turbulent marriage to Lady Diana Spencer.