Fact Check: Image Of UK Labour Leader Keir Starmer Socializing With Jimmy Savile Is DIGITALLY ALTERED

Fact Check

  • by: Uliana Malashenko
Fact Check: Image Of UK Labour Leader Keir Starmer Socializing With Jimmy Savile Is DIGITALLY ALTERED Edited

Does a viral image prove that U.K. Labour Party leader Keir Starmer socialized with Jimmy Savile, a British TV personality accused of dozens of sexual offenses? No, that's not true: The image was digitally altered to place Savile in the room with Starmer. The original photo showed Starmer sitting next to Gordon Brown.

The image appeared in a post (archived here) on X, formerly known as Twitter, on May 23, 2024. The caption said, misspelling Savile's last name:

🚨🇬🇧 Britain's future Prime Minister Keir Starmer failed to pursue the prosecution of Britains most notorious child sex offender ever - Jimmy Saville.

This was when Keir Starmer was head of the Crown Prosecution Service & had an abundance of evidence at his disposal.

It's one big club & Keir Starmer is in it.

This is what the claim looked like on X at the time of the writing of this fact check:

Screenshot 2024-05-24 at 12.10.59 PM.png

(Source: X screenshot taken on Fri May 24 16:10:59 2024 UTC)

One of the attached images purported to show U.K. Labour Party leader Keir Starmer (archived here) sitting next to Jimmy Savile (archived here), a British DJ and TV host who was accused of sexual abuse many times (archived here). Savile, who died in 2011, was not prosecuted during his lifetime.

Screenshot 2024-05-24 at 11.04.43 AM.png

(Source: X screenshot taken on Fri May 24 15:04:43 2024 UTC)

The unnaturally shaped head of the man next to the lamp hinted that the image could have been digitally altered.

A reverse image-search confirmed that Savile was not in the original photo (archived here), which was posted on X on December 4, 2022, by another Labour member of parliament, Rachel Reeves (archived here):

Screenshot 2024-05-24 at 1.09.32 PM.png

(Source: X screenshot taken on Fri May 24 17:09:32 2024 UTC)

In the original photo, Starmer sits next to former Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown (archived here). It was republished by the Daily Express (archived here) and the Scottish Daily Express (archived here) within a day of each other in December 2022.

Savile could not be in a picture taken in 2022: He died in 2011.

The caption of the post with the digitally altered image repeated a baseless QAnon claim that has been debunked by Full Fact (archived here) and the BBC (archived here).

Following journalist inquiries, the scandal about years of sexual abuse erupted only after Savile's death. Starmer, who was the head of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) between 2008 and 2013, ordered an investigation into why the agency decided not to charge Savile in 2009. The 2013 final report concluded that the CPS decided not to move forward because they thought there was not enough evidence: Two victims who came forward did not want to testify in court.

Starmer did not participate in the decision-making process and did not work on the case. Talking to the BBC in February 2022, he said (archived here) he claimed that he had not known about some local offices' decisions and added that he was "concerned that the system hadn't worked out."

In 2013, the police described Savile as a "prolific, predatory sex offender," who was a suspect in over 200 recorded cases of sexual abuse. Nearly three-quarters of the victims were minors younger than 18.

Both the altered photo that is the focus of this fact check and the claim about Starmer's role in the decision not to prosecute Savile resurfaced on social media in the weeks leading up to the U.K.'s general election (archived here), set to take place on July 4, 2024. As reported by Reuters (archived here), Starmer had a 20-point lead over his rivals as of May 23, 2024.

Additional Lead Stories fact checks of claims related to the United Kingdom can be found here.

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  Uliana Malashenko

Uliana Malashenko is a New York-based freelance writer and fact checker.

Read more about or contact Uliana Malashenko

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