Leeds United supporters have urged the BBC to apologise for what they claim are damaging and inaccurate scenes in the recent dramatisation of the Jimmy Savile scandal. Clive Miers, chair of the Leeds United Supporters Network, hit out at the broadcaster for including descriptions of victim chanting inside Elland Road.
Miers told the Daily Mail that when he contacted the BBC on this point, he was informed that references to chants were based on ‘first-hand accounts’ and were used to illustrate how Savile’s crimes had been widely rumoured ‘many years before the truth eventually began to emerge after his death’.
Noting a particular scene where Saville, played by Steve Coogan, was asked why Leeds fans would chant at visiting supporters that he would abuse them in the morgue, Miers said: “This is simply untrue. I have been to more than 2,000 games, we have 46 Leeds supporters’ groups under our umbrella and over 9,000 members and nobody can remember hearing this.
“The BBC has used football and Leeds United to provide a shortcut to allude to Savile’s necrophilia by inventing an obscene chant. To create sensationalism with dramatic licence, the BBC have ensured a continuation.”
Express Sport has approached the BBC for comment.
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Miers did not dispute that chants about Saville have been regularly aimed at Leeds supporters in the years since his death, or that some Leeds fans have occasionally responded with Savile chants of their own.
He added: “These chants are not terrace banter. They can cause trauma, torment and suffering for survivors of sexual abuse who may be in the ground, and not just those abused by Jimmy Savile. We call on the BBC to apologise to the supporters of Leeds United and the FA in conjunction with the police to take immediate action.”
Miers was unhappy with the response he received from the broadcasting giant when the series was originally aired in September. He also wrote to the EFL and the FA, who recently announced new rules in relation to tragedy chanting and said that fans who engage in the ‘vile form of abuse” could face ‘stadium bans and potential criminal prosecution’.
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“We commend action taken over racist, homophobic and tragedy chanting,” said Miers. “Should the survivors of sexual abuse not be afforded the same protection? There has been no action taken on this by anybody, possibly because it is taboo, possibly because it is seen as terrace jests.
“There are millions of survivors of sexual abuse and this gives the impression Elland Road or indeed any football ground is not safe for them.”
The BBC issued a response to Miers’ claims, with a spokesperson telling the Daily Mail: “The line in the drama was included to illustrate how rumours around some of Savile’s behaviour had been in widespread circulation for many years before the truth eventually began to emerge after his death.
“The programme-makers drew on first-hand accounts of this chant having been heard at Elland Road.”
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