A LIFELONG South Tyneside friend of Jimmy Savile says she has come to believe the lurid sex claims against him, and declared: “He’s not the Jimmy I knew.”
Edna Thompson, 93, initially defended the “kind, intelligent and generous” man who was her friend for more than 50 years.
But after a trickle of sex allegations turned into a torrent over the last month, her view has changed.
And she now accepts there was “no smoke without fire”, after hundreds of alleged victims came forward with tales of sexual abuse.
Mrs Thompson, of Westmorland Road, Marsden, South Shields, admits to being stunned by the revelations against the former Top Of The Pops presenter, who she first met in the 1950s.
He came to South Shields with his mother, Agnes, who he referred to as “the Duchess”, to visit his aunt, Nelly Bailey.
Mrs Thompson’s mother, Sarah Davies, lived next door to Mrs Bailey in Prince Edward Court at the time.
But it wasn’t until Savile had almost completed his first Great North Run in the early 1980s, and was running through Marsden, that he realised he was on familiar territory and just a stone’s throw from Mrs Thompson’s house.
The larger-than-life TV star would often turn up at her home late at night – and stay chatting until the early hours.
Mrs Thompson said: “When I first heard these allegations, I didn’t believe them.
“I’d known him for 50 years and I’d sat with him for hours at a time, and never had a vibe he was capable of such terrible things.
“I thought the people making the claims were just doing it for compensation, but the more that people came forward, the more I realised there must be truth in this.
“As a family, we are stunned. My daughter, Moira, thought the world of him. If I’d known he was capable of this, I would have banned him.
“He came to my 90th birthday party and everybody loved him, but friends have since approached me to say they thought there was something not right about him.
“Nobody mentioned anything when he was alive.
“He used to tell me that he didn’t like children, but otherwise he always seemed a normal, intelligent person.
“I can’t understand why he did these things in the 1960s and 70s, at a time when his mother was alive.
“He worshipped her. If she’d found out, he would have had to crawl underground.
“I know he’s not around any more to defend himself, but there are too many allegations for them all to be false. He’s not the Jimmy I knew.”