Sir Keir Starmer "spent most of his time [as DPP] prosecuting journalists and failing to prosecute Jimmy Savile".

Boris Johnson, House of Commons

January 30, 2022

Facts

Jimmy Savile was revealed to be a serial sexual abuser after his death in 2011. The DJ and television presenter had attacked hundreds of women and children at various locations including hospitals, schools and the BBC. While Keir Starmer did apologise on behalf of the organisation at the time, he had no involvement in the decision not to prosecute Savile. 

It is true that Sir Keir was Director of Public Prosecutions at the Crown Prosecution Service in 2009 when Surrey Police interviewed Savile and consulted a CPS lawyer who decided there was insufficient evidence for a prosecution to take place. In 2012, Sir Keir commissioned a report from Alison Levitt QC into why Savile was not prosecuted. The CPS said: "There is no reference within the report to any involvement from the DPP (Director of Public Prosecutions) in the decision-making in the case. The reviewing lawyer at the time set out their own reasons for the decisions they took, which are reproduced in the report."

BBC Reality Check spoke to Nazir Afzal who was Chief Crown Prosecutor in the CPS for North West England from 2011-15. They asked him whether - as DPP - Keir Starmer would have known about the decision not to prosecute Savile. He said: "None of that would have been escalated beyond the south-east and Keir wasn't aware of it. At that time we were dealing [with] 900,000 prosecutions a year.”

Verdict

Boris Johnson made two false claims about Sir Keir Starner.  He did not spend “most of his time” prosecuting journalists.  More significantly the Labour leader had no involvement in the decision not to prosecute Savile. Mr Johnson has not corrected this misleading and very damaging statement. To make matters worse, he made his false claim while under the protection of parliamentary privilege. According to the Ministerial Code,  “It is of paramount importance that Ministers give accurate and truthful information to Parliament, correcting any inadvertent error at the earliest opportunity.  Ministers who knowingly mislead Parliament will be expected to offer their resignation to the Prime Minister.”

 Boris Johnson was - doubly - misleading parliament in defiance of the Ministerial Code. 

We approached Mr Johnson’s office, the Cabinet Office and the No 10 Press Office to give him a chance to comment, but received no response. 

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