A political ally of Tory chairman Grant Shapps is under pressure to resign over allegations linking him to the Jimmy Savile abuse scandal. The relationship between Savile and Alan Franey — now the deputy leader of Shapps’ local council and a police and crime panel member — was the subject of harsh scrutiny by an official NHS investigation.
The Welwyn Hatfield Times reports that Cllr Franey will now face a no confidence vote from colleagues on Monday.
With paedophile Savile enjoying unfettered access to Broadmoor Hospital in the 1980s, a running partner, Cllr Franey, was appointed as the general manager of the facility in 1988 — apparently at the insistence of Savile. Witnesses told investigators about closeness between the pair, with Franey asking for “the godfather” when he regularly rang Stoke Mandeville hospital to speak with the TV presenter.
According to the report, Savile was fond of invoking his relationship with Franey and other “people in high places” in conversation with hospital staff. Interviewees also told the inquiry that Franey was “seen as having authorised” Savile’s “unrestricted access to secure and clinical areas of the hospital”.
One health executive told investigators that Franey had told him Savile had “a little secret … a liking for young girls, the younger the better”, a claim strongly denied by Cllr Franey, who also denies that any complaints about Savile reached him.
The report raises allegations about Franey’s personal conduct, such as concurrent affairs with female staff, which may have given Savile and others leverage over the health chief. Again, Franey denies the claims:
“Widespread stories about [Cllr Franey’s] personal conduct circulated within the hospital and outside it, damaging his stature and credibility and hampering his ability to lead improvement”
The report then cites a particular incident in which a nurse was sacked for having “had a sexual relationship with a female patient”:
“she lodged an industrial tribunal case, at which she threatened to make public embarrassing revelations about the hospital’s management. Documents from the time show that this was believed to include allegations about Franey’s personal conduct, involving herself and other members of staff.
But investigators couldn’t find anyone who could explain why the nurse withdrew her claim, suggesting that “an irregular payment” may have been made and noting that the nurse “was, like Savile, a close associate of Franey’s”.
Having previously used the Savile scandal as a pretext to threaten the BBC’s license fee, Grant Shapps seems to have quietened down now the episode has hit closer to home.