The investigator who revealed Jimmy Savile’s prolific paedophilia has said that he is working – and has been for some time – on exposing one other well-known living child sex offender.
Mark Williams-Thomas, the former police detective-turned-TV journalist who exposed Savile, claimed that the other individual has so far evaded justice because he is ‘untouchable’.
Williams-Thomas was the leading investigator on the ITV Exposure documentary, The Other Side of Jimmy Savile, which revealed how one of Britain’s most loved entertainers systematically and disturbingly preyed upon young and vulnerable girls.
The award-winning film, broadcast just over a decade ago on 3 October 2012 – a year after Savile’s death – prompted hundreds of other unheard victims to come forward with their experiences.
In the documentary, five women stated that they had been sexually abused by Savile as teenagers. This exposure of Savile as a paedophile led to extensive media coverage, including 41 days on the front pages.
Mark Williams-Thomas – who exposed Savile – has said that he is working on exposing one other well-known living child sex offender
The film led to the Met Police’s Operation Yewtree investigation, which ultimately resulted in sexual abuse convictions for multiple celebrity personalities.
By October 2015, 19 people had been arrested by Operation Yewtree; seven of those arrests led to convictions.
However Williams-Thomas, a child protection expert has expressed his frustration that his pursuit of one high-profile target has so far been thwarted.
‘There are still people out there who are untouchable,’ the former Surrey Police and family liaison officer told i.
‘There is one very significant person who I’ve done everything to try and get prosecuted because he is clearly a child sex offender.’
Williams-Thomas was the leading investigator on the ITV Exposure documentary, The Other Side of Jimmy Savile, which revealed how one of Britain’s most loved entertainers systematically and disturbingly preyed upon young and vulnerable girls
‘To date the CPS won’t prosecute. The police and I have tried really hard to get there. He will die in due course and then the floodgates will open in the same way they did with Savile. That’s not right. But justice takes many different forms.’
He added: ‘The truth is no broadcaster would have done a programme about Savile when he was alive. We live in a society where there are some people you can’t take on and that’s really sad.’
Williams-Thomas, who left the police 20 years ago to set up a specialist child protection consultancy, has become a favourite with broadcasters and contributed to a recent Channel 4 film in which Sir Cliff Richard, Paul Gambaccini and DJ Neil Fox told how their lives were ruined by sex abuse allegations made against them.
The cases against Richard and Gambaccini never went to trial while Fox was found not guilty in a magistrates’ court.
‘There is always collateral damage,’ Williams-Thomas told i, ‘There will always be innocent casualties of war and that’s what happened here.’
Although he believes that the allegations against Sir Cliff were right to be put forward, he also said the police led a ‘shambolic investigation’.
‘What was wrong was the manner in which they did it’, he added.
His experience breaking the Savile story means Williams-Thomas doesn’t accept Sir Cliff’s plea for sex offence suspects to be granted anonymity before any charges are brought, according to i.
This led to the Met Police’s Operation Yewtree investigation, which ultimately resulted in sexual abuse convictions for multiple celebrity personalities. By October 2015, 19 people had been arrested by Operation Yewtree; seven of those arrests led to convictions
‘I’ve seen the value of lifting anonymity for victims to come forward. It’s one of the reasons the CPS didn’t have evidence to prosecute Savile when he was alive.’
‘The media plays a vital role in getting victims to come forward by publicising names. But they have to consider the impact on the accused because there is no more abhorrent crime than child sex abuse.’
From police detective to TV journalist: The career of Mark Williams-Thomas
- In 1989, Williams-Thomas joined Surrey Police – becoming a specialist in major crime and child abuse. He was a family liaison officer and left the force in 2000
- From 2003, he began script advising for various television crime dramas which included BBC series Waking The Dead (2007-2011), BBC series Inspector Lynley Mysteries (2007), Channel 5 series Murder Prevention (2004), ITV series Identity and BBC series The Silence.
- In 2005, Williams-Thomas set up WT Associates, an independent child protection consultancy firm.
- In 2011 he created and presented a new series on ITV called On the Run. The premise of the series was to track down and confront offenders on the run from the police. The series ran over three seasons.
- On 3 October 2012, Williams-Thomas presented the documentary The Other Side of Jimmy Savile on ITV, in which five women stated that they had been sexually abused by Savile as teenagers. The exposure of Savile as a paedophile led to extensive media coverage, including 41 days on the front pages.
- In 2014, he covered the verdict of Oscar Pistorius and was the only British journalist to meet with Pistorius during his trial, writing an exclusive report for the Daily Mirror.
- Williams-Thomas was the reporter for ITV’s crime series The Investigator: A British Crime Story, produced by Simon Cowell’s Syco in 2016.
- 2022: He is a regular reporter on This Morning, Channel 4 News, as well as the ITV series Exposure.
When the Savile film was produced, ITV were cautious of releasing it, Williams-Thomas said.
The BBC’s Newsnight had also started an investigation – which Williams-Thomas also worked on – that would have aired the sick claims about Savile at the same time the broadcaster was preparing Savile tribute programme’s following his death.
‘The ITV lawyers lost their nerve in the last days before transmission. You could see the temperature reaching boiling point,’ Williams-Thomas told i. ‘This was a guy who had huge power during his TV reign and even after his death people were scared of taking him on.’
‘I knew we had to take the story away from the children’s home abuse. Rightly or wrongly, people would say these were the stories of damaged children, can we believe them?’
‘We conducted a properly-evidenced, forensic, police-style investigation over months. Also TV is visual medium so we had to get the victims willing to talk on camera, we couldn’t have everyone anonymised. The programme was down to the bravery of those women telling their story.’
Despite being broadcast at 11.10pm at night, the effect of the programme was immediate. ‘The NSPCC sent us a letter a week after it aired saying that as a result they were able to follow up on 1,000 cases of child abuse.’
‘When the Operation Yewtree lead detectives sat down with us to see what we had, they said they thought there were 30 Savile victims. There was silence in the room when I said the number was nearer 500. That’s about the number the subsequent investigation came up with.’
‘What our small team achieved gave victims a voice up and down the country. If we hadn’t done Savile I genuinely don’t think this movement would have gone across the globe,’ Williams-Thomas said.
‘It created Harvey Weinstein and Epstein (their exposure). I’m honoured to have been a catalyst for something that has changed peoples’ lives.’
Reflecting on Savile, Williams-Thomas told i that he understands how even King Charles was taken in by such a manipulative figure.
‘I’ve seen communications between Savile and Prince Charles where there was a conversation about using Savile as a sounding board for his relationship with Diana. Quite mad because Savile never had a real relationship in his life.’
‘I don’t blame Charles, Savile was looking to ingratiate himself into the royal family. If he saw any benefit in being somewhere he would exploit it for personal gain. He managed to get his foot in the door. He also did a lot for charity and that helped create a profile that he built on through contact with the royal family.’