Former BBC DJ Mike Smith hits out at Jimmy Savile 'witch hunt'
PUBLISHED October 9, 2012
Mike Smith said what went on in the studios was just "mucking about" and accused Liz Kershaw of "smearing" other presenters by not naming the man who routinely assaulted her.
He said his fellow DJ had committed a "heinous crime" by generalising from her experience to conclude that there was an intimidating culture at the radio station, as he insisted the atmosphere was "more camp than predatory".
His comments came after the new director-general of the BBC apologised to the victims of sexual assault by Savile, now thought to number 100, and pledged that there would be a full inquiry after police have finished assessing the claims.
The backlash against the DJ and Top of the Pops presenter continued with Leeds Civic Hall removing a plaque that honoured his charity work, while it emerged that a bottle had been thrown at his grave in Scarborough.
Following the claims in a documentary that Savile had abused young girls in his dressing room in the 1970s, women who worked at the BBC said they had been groped by unnamed men the following decade.
Janet Street-Porter said senior staff hushed up this behaviour, and that what Savile did was "just an extreme example". Sandi Toksvig said she was groped while broadcasting by a "famous individual" and Kershaw said a presenter regularly put his hands up her jumper while she was live on air and wearing headphones.
On his website, Smith, who now runs an aerial filming company, wrote: "I don't know which of the schoolboys stuck his hands where they shouldn't be. And, frankly, I don't know why Liz can't name him. But if this 'trick' happened, it was a specific case."
He went on Radio 5 Live on Monday to expand on his view, saying: "I think she's guilty of generalising from the particular, which is a heinous crime.
"There's a danger here that an awful lot of innocent, good people are going to be smeared by the comments of Liz Kershaw.
"This witch hunt has got to stop."
He asked himself it what Kershaw experienced was a crime, saying: "Whether it's a crime - there we are, I've opened myself up now to the feminists attacking me - is it a crime?
"If Liz was genuinely threatened by this and couldn't deal with it, yes that was a crime and that should be dealt with."
Asked when it would not constitute a crime, Smith replied: "When you've got consenting people mucking about, you know, that's when it's not a crime.
"If that happened it's absolutely appalling and I'm not supporting it in any way. Those sorts of practical joke…
"I'm not saying this is a good thing, what I'm saying is that there was a lot of joshing around that went on and quite often you would have male DJs trying to put off other male DJs."
Smith, who married BBC television presenter Sarah Greene in 1989, called on those who had been groped at the BBC to "name names".
He also said Savile was regarded "as a god" and "untouchable" at the corporation, describing how he held court in the corner of a room at a Christmas party, but that he personally found him a "strange guy".
Jackie Brambles, who joined Radio 1 when she was just 21, also said she did not recognise the description of the station's abusive culture and remembered it as more like a sixth form common room.
She said she felt "desperately bad" for what Kershaw went through and encouraged her to eliminate suspects by naming her assailant, adding: "I have the sense of a witch hunt and that makes me very uncomfortable."
Speaking at his west London home later, Smith stood by his comments and added: "The problem is you haven't got enough pages to debate this; it has been blown out of all proportion.
"And of course we're missing, as ever, the real nub of this story, and that is tracking down the poor people affected by Jimmy Savile.
"It has been blown into something else by other people. It's going to get confused and lost in the mists of time if we don't watch it."