LONDON // British police yesterday arrested 1970s glam rocker Gary Glitter as they probe the mountain of sexual abuse allegations against the late TV star Jimmy Savile that have plunged the BBC into crisis.
Glitter is the first person arrested in an investigation which has snowballed since claims that Savile molested underage girls were aired in a television documentary this month.
Glitter, 68, the king of the glam rock era with a string of hits, has served a jail term in Britain for downloading child pornography and in Vietnam for child sex offences. Wearing a hat, dark glasses and a winter coat, Glitter was seen being escorted from his expensive central London home into a waiting vehicle early yesterday.
“Officers working on Operation Yewtree have today arrested a man in his 60s in connection with the investigation,” a Scotland Yard spokesman said. “The man, from London, was arrested ... on suspicion of sexual offences and has been taken into custody.
“The individual falls under the strand of the investigation we have termed ‘Savile and others’.”
The operation has identified about 300 possible victims of Savile over a 40-year period, which would make him one of the worst offenders in British history.
The claims against the eccentric DJ have plunged the BBC into crisis and destroyed the reputation of the man who, with his garish tracksuits and ever present cigar, was one of the most famous faces on British television for decades.
Savile, who died on October 29 last year aged 84, also single-handedly raised tens of millions of pounds for charity.
A public relations guru, Max Clifford, claimed that dozens of celebrities from the 1960s and 1970s have contacted him in recent days because they are “frightened” of being implicated in the widening scandal.
He said the stars were worried because at their peak they had lived a hedonistic lifestyle where young girls threw themselves at them but they “never asked for anybody’s birth certificate”. Glitter was convicted in Vietnam 2006 of “obscene acts” with two girls aged 11 and 12, and returned to London in August 2008 after his release from prison.
Having been turned away from Hong Kong and Thailand, he returned to Britain, where he was ordered to sign the sex offenders register.
Glitter maintained his innocence and said his trial in Vietnam was a sham. He was the king of the over-the-top glam era, complete with extravagant make-up, bouffant wigs, silver jumpsuits and high boots. He sold more than 20 million records
The British justice secretary, Chris Grayling, said that “criminal proceedings should follow if people were guilty of participating in these offences alongside Jimmy Savile”.
“That is of paramount importance. Clearly what has happened is absolutely horrendous. It is shocking. There was clearly a culture that should never, ever, ever have been allowed to exist,” he added.