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Gary Glitter arrested in Saville paedophilia investigation

Robin Millard

Gary Glitter, who has served two jail sentences for sexual offences, has been arrested in connection with an investigation into TV star Jimmy Saville.

Disgraced ex-pop star Gary Glitter, who was arrested on suspicion of sexual offences, has fallen a long way from his 1970s heyday as the leader of the glam-rock gang. (Hoang Dinh, AFP)

British police arrested 1970s glam rocker Gary Glitter on Sunday as they probe the mountain of sexual abuse allegations against the late TV star Jimmy Saville that have plunged the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) into crisis.

Glitter is the first person arrested in an investigation which has snowballed since claims that Saville molested underage girls were aired in a television documentary earlier this month.

Glitter (68), the king of the glam rock era with a string of stomping 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 central London home into a waiting vehicle early Sunday.

"Officers working on Operation Yewtree have today arrested a man in his 60s in connection with the investigation," a Scotland Yard spokesperson said.

"The man, from London, was arrested at approximately 7.15am on suspicion of sexual offences, and has been taken into custody at a London police station.

"The individual falls under the strand of the investigation we have termed 'Saville and others'."

The operation has identified around 300 possible victims of Saville over a 40-year period, which would make the eccentric BBC presenter one of the worst offenders in British history.

The claims against Saville have plunged the BBC into crisis and destroyed the reputation of a man who, with his garish tracksuits and ever-present cigar, was one of the most famous faces on British television for decades.

Saville, who died on October 29 last year aged 84, also single-handedly raised tens of millions of pounds for charity.

The claims against him in an ITV documentary gave dozens of others the courage to come forward to police with allegations about Saville, his time on top BBC programmes of the 1960s to 1980s and others involved with him who are still alive.

Reputation 'on the line'
Public relations guru Max Clifford claimed dozens of celebrities from the period 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".

The Vatican said Sunday it regretted conferring a papal knighthood on Saville in 1990, but that there was no way to revoke the honour.

The Vatican is "deeply saddened" that Saville was made a knight commander of the Order of Saint Gregory the Great by Pope John Paul II, an honour that "in the light of recent information, should certainly not have been conferred," said Vatican spokesperson Father Federico Lombardi.

He said the Vatican "strongly condemned horrible sexual abuse crimes committed against minors."

But, he explained, "given there is no permanent and official list of people who have received papal honours in the past, it is not possible to strike out anyone from a list that does not exist."

In Britain, Justice Secretary Chris Grayling said it was right that the police were "looking to see who is still around who was involved, and criminal proceedings should follow if people were guilty of participating in these offences alongside Jimmy Saville. That is of paramount importance."

The allegations against Saville include that he molested young girls on BBC premises.

The BBC has announced an independent probe into the BBC's culture and practices during the Saville years.

Grayling added: "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."

Former Hong Kong governor Chris Patten, the chairperson of the BBC Trust, the corporation's governing body, said the Saville revelations had put the BBC's reputation "on the line".

"The filth piles up," he wrote in The Mail on Sunday newspaper.

"Can it really be the case that no one knew what he was doing? Did some turn a blind eye to criminality?

"The BBC must tell the truth and face up to the truth about itself, however terrible".

Glitter 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 then 20-million records and had a string of hits like I'm The Leader Of The Gang (I Am) and Rock and Roll (Parts 1 and 2).

He was convicted in Vietnam in March 2006 of "obscene acts" with two girls aged 11 and 12, and returned to London in August 2008 after his release from prison. – AFP.

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