Today I read an article on the BBC website stating that Cunard canceled a tribute to eccentric British television star Jimmy Savile who sailed regularly on Cunard ships, and other cruise ships, before his death.
For the U.S. readers of this blog unfamiliar with Mr. Savile, he was a popular disc jockey and television presenter for BBC Radio and Television. In the 1960's and 70's, he hosted the popular TV music program Top of the Pops and Jim'll Fix It which catered primarily to children. He was known for his fundraising and support of charities and hospitals. He was knighted by the Queen in 1990.
A few years before his death in 2011, things began to unravel for Sir Savile. He was the target of allegations of child sexual abuse. After he died in October last year, these allegations increased. Several women stepped forward to claim that Savile sexually abused them while they were girls.
Nonetheless, Cunard cruise line had planned a tribute to Savile where the Queen Elizabeth cruise ship would sail by Scarborough, where Savile was buried. BBC News reports that a Cunard spokesperson had previously characterized Savile as a frequent Cunard cruise passenger and a "true friend of Cunard."
But after an ITV documentary aired last week about Savile's alleged abuse of children, including girls on the premises of BBC, an additional 40 women reported that Savile abused them while they were children. The U.K. police described Savile as a "predatory sex offender" who had a "predilection" for young girls.
It was at this point that Cunard finally decided to distance itself from its celebrity passenger Sir Savile.
The concern I have when I read stories like this is the safety of children on cruise ships. Pedophiles plan their lives to come into close association with children and will prey on them if the opportunity exists - whether it's a hospital, orphanage, BBC's premises, or a luxury cruise ship.
If you think it's far-fetched that a pedophile would target children on a cruise ship, consider the fact that a Cunard youth counselor, Paul Trotter, is currently in jail in the U.K. after pleading guilty to abusing at least 13 children over the course of many years while working throughout the Cunard fleet.
I have not located any evidence that Savile sexually abused anyone on Cunard's ships, but there is some disturbing accounts that he may have abused girls on a P & O cruise ship.
The U.K.'s Mirror published an article indicating that two passengers notified the captain of a P & O cruise ship that Savile had acted inappropriately with their daughter during a cruise - "I Kicked Sleazy Jimmy Savile Off Cruise Ship." The article states that after the captain of the P & O Canberra heard the complaints of the parents of a 14 year old girl, the captain told Savile ". . . he disgusted me and I wanted him off my ship when we reached Gibraltar.”
Back in the 1970's when the incident aboard the P & O cruise ship occurred, cruise lines did not report sexual perverts to the police. That was long before laws existed that required cruise lines to report such shipboard crimes to the authorities. At best, all that happened was the captain would kick the pervert off at the next port. That permitted the pedophile to continue his ways on other cruise ships.
Other newspapers have raised the issue whether Savile sexually assaulted children on cruise ships. The U.K.'s Express newspaper published an article written by a journalist who commented that Savile was a regular on Cunard cruise ships and he observed Savile ". . . leering at girls and young women in the hot tub."
Sir Savile last sailed with Cunard, on the Queen Elizabeth, in September 2011 - thirty-five years after he was accused of abusing a girl on a P & O ship and one month before he died.
October 17, 2012 Update: The Sun newspaper in the U.K. published an article today about "Sue" age 16 who recalled Jimmy Sevile's conduct aboard a P & O cruise ship back in 1978.
Top: Sydney Morning Herald