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Savile championed a host of good causes, frequently running marathons to raise money. He led work to collect millions for the creation of a national spinal injuries center at Stoke Mandeville Hospital in southern England and bequeathed money for a heart unit at Leeds infirmary named the Savile Institute.

He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for services to charity and entertainment, and received a papal knighthood from the Vatican.

Prince Charles was among those who paid tribute when he died in October 2011 and thousands paid their respects at his coffin.

Although he was part of the nation’s childhood, Savile remained a distant figure _ well-known rather than well-loved. His guarded private life was the subject of a much watched television documentary in 2000 by filmmaker Louis Theroux.

Savile, who never married and lived alone, told Theroux he’d never liked children. Part of his home in Leeds was a shrine to his late mother, whom he called The Duchess. After her death in 1973, he spent five days alone with her body.

In recent days, several people have come forward to say Savile’s predatory behavior had been common knowledge in showbiz circles.

Music broadcaster Paul Gambaccini told ITV television that Savile had used his charity work to discourage newspaper stories about his private life.

Gambaccini recalled Savile telling one journalist, “`well you could run that story, but if you do there goes the funds that come in to Stoke Mandeville _ do you want to be responsible for the drying up of the charity donations?’ And they backed down.”

Surrey Police have acknowledged that they questioned Savile in 2007 over an allegation related to the Duncroft school. The file was passed on to prosecutors, who declined to bring charges.

The Crown Prosecution Service is facing questions about its actions, as is the BBC, Savile’s longtime employer. The BBC’s “Newsnight” program worked on a piece on the abuse allegations late last year but decided not to broadcast it for what the BBC called “editorial reasons.”

Chris Cloke, head of child protection awareness at the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, said if any good came from the Savile saga it would be “a better understanding of how cases like this have happened, a greater understanding that protecting children must be everybody’s responsibility.”

“There is a concern that children aren’t listened to,” he said, “and that is something that has been around for a very long time.”

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Jill Lawless can be reached at http://Twitter.com/JillLawless