Scores of women who say they were sexually abused by television personality Jimmy Savile are waiting for the result of a Court of Appeal fight which might affect the future of a compensation scheme.
Earlier this year, a High Court judge sanctioned the scheme – agreed between the executor of Savile’s estate and lawyers representing alleged victims - following a High Court hearing in London in February.
Mr Justice Sales also dismissed an attempt to replace the NatWest bank as executor.
Bosses of a trust, which is the major beneficiary of Savile’s estate, had raised objections at the High Court hearing.
The Jimmy Savile Charitable Trust had wanted the bank replaced as executor. Trust bosses said they were unhappy with the bank’s performance as executor and suggested that compensation issues had not been fully thought through.
And today they are expected to ask the appeal judges to overturn Mr Justice Sales’ decisions.
Appeal judges are expected to analyse legal argument over two days at a hearing in London before ruling.
Mr Justice Sales heard that Savile, who died in October 2011 aged 84, had been the subject of an ITV television programme broadcast in October 2012. The judge said Savile, who worked at the BBC, had been accused of being a “serial child abuser and sex offender” – and was alleged to have abused people in hospitals.
He said following the broadcast a “large number” of people had come forward to make claims that they were abused by Savile.
The judge had described the compensation scheme as a “sensible and pragmatic” attempt at solving a “complex situation”. He said the scheme would allow for “sufficient objective scrutiny” of the merits of compensation claims.
A solicitor representing alleged victims said, after the High Court hearing, that the scheme would not guarantee payouts but would provide a framework within which claims could be analysed. Liz Dux, who works for law firm Slater & Gordon, said Mr Justice Sales’ decision to sanction the scheme was “a great result for the victims of Jimmy Savile”.
Mr Justice Sales said about 140 people had ”intimated to the bank” that they had personal injury claims against Savile and his estate in relation to sexual abuse. He said there had also been indications of claims against other organisations Savile had been associated with – the BBC, a number of NHS hospital trusts and the charities Barnardo’s and Mind.
Lawyers say the number of people intending to make claims has now risen to more than 160.
Experts had initially put the value of Savile’s estate at around £4m. But Mr Justice Sales said a “range of expenses” had been incurred and the estate’s value had been reduced to about £3.3m.
Lawyers representing alleged victims fear that further litigation might run up costs which will eat into money available for compensation.
Mr Justice Sales had told alleged victims that they would not be out of pocket as a result of the High Court fight. He ruled that because the trust had lost the High Court battle it should foot legal bills – totalling more than £250,000 - run up by alleged victims and the bank.