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Louise Glen: Jimmy Savile house is a stain on Scotland’s most outstanding landscape – so knock it down

Savile's derelict Allt-na-Reigh sits slap bang in the middle of Glencoe - and it needs to come down.

The vandalised Glencoe house that was owned by sexual predator Jimmy Savile.
The vandalised Glencoe house that was owned by sexual predator Jimmy Savile. Image: PA/DC Thomson

Every single time I drive through Glencoe I am sickened to find that another few months have gone by and Jimmy Savile’s white house is still standing.

In one of the most beautiful parts of the world – in a place where there are no other houses and 12 years on from his death – it is still there.

Allt-na-Reigh cottage stands in the very heart of Glencoe.

It speaks to me of the ongoing abuse of power by those who have the ear of the most influential.

Savile’s former home – which he owned from 1998 until his death in 2011, aged 84 – is so isolated anything could, and it’s suspected did happen in that house.

And now, a new TV drama once again shines a light on his crimes, providing a reckoning that he never received in his lifetime.

Isn’t it about time this building receives the same treatment, and is crunched into dust just like his headstone was after the truth emerged?

Jimmy Savile’s house is rapidly deteriorating

Its continued glaring presence speaks to the lack of respect for the many, many men and women whom Savile abused.

The house used to be whitewashed regularly – and foul slogans on its exterior were quickly removed.

These days it is a pitiful sight as it slowly erodes away.

Jimmy Savile's former house in the heart of Glencoe.
The Glencoe cottage was formerly owned by evil predator Jimmy Savile. Image: Sandy McCook.

What it was like growing up idolising presenter with hidden dark side

Savile was a demi-god to a wee Louise, aged seven, growing up in 1970s Scotland.

Not only was this man on the most-watched TV show of the time Jim’ll Fix It – he was also a friend of royalty, pop stars and celebrities. He was Sir Jimmy after all.

He was everywhere.

He was even on my Scripture Union leaflet, handed out at Sunday School.

A cartoon told how Savile had endured so much in the name of Jesus, and how he had single-handedly kept open Stoke Mandeville Hospital.

Jimmy Savile with a trademark cigar.
Jimmy Savile covered his crimes with relentless charity work. Image: PA

He was framed in the same way as Mother Theresa or Nelson Mandela in leaflets handed out that year. He was upheld for his unswerving works for good. He was destined for sainthood.

But he wasn’t good, he wasn’t a saint, was he?

He undertook daily, even hourly, attacks on his victims.

He had no care about who he attacked – male, female, boy, girl – he preyed on those who were physically and mentally disabled.

The shocking revelations that came, and kept coming, after his death were horrifying on a scale that is barely imaginable now.

Why did he get away with it for so long?

Rumours about Savile had been there for years – and no one listened to the victims.

I remember being sent to meet him once, as a young journalist, thankfully he was not in a mood to speak to me. Photos were sent on instead.

He was pictured with the great and good from the area.

Jimmy Savile wears the horns of a stag on trip to Highlands.
In 2003, Jimmy Savile launched the Loch Ness Marathon. Image: Sandy McCook/DC Thomson.

His “man” had sent them on – the photos went on the front page because Savile could sell an extra thousand papers or so. I was told he was “good for business”.

Savile was one of the most powerful people in the UK, and he was influential.

The balance of power was so skewed in his favour, that the small voice of any victim trying to raise concerns about him was silenced.

As a child growing up in the 70s, I applied to go on Jim’ll Fix It. My letter to Savile was the first letter I had ever written in life.

I remember licking the stamp and putting it into the postbox. I kissed the envelope. I loved Jimmy.

It was a right of passage to write to Savile, to fall under his spell.

An appearance on Jim’ll Fix It and a Blue Peter Badge were the amulets of power

On the Holy Grail of a 70s childhood, an appearance on Jim’ll Fix It and a Blue Peter Badge were the amulets of power.

He was my hero, this man was a god.

And yet it was another Louise, from Birmingham, who got the dream I had so longed for.

She danced with Top of the Pops favourites Legs & Co.

I was at home crying as I ate my Texan bar on the bobbly couch with my mum, dad and brother.

But in retrospect, that meant I was safe. I had been safe when others were not so fortunate.

The house in Glencoe stands as a daily reminder that power always wins and that Savile is still winning.

Jimmy Savile holds up Jim'll Fix It medal in front of TV show logo.
Jimmy Savile’s Jim’ll Fix It programme was a weekly family event. Image: Supplied.

In recent years, I have talked to his victims.

When I lived in Fort William I spoke to people who were Savile’s confidants and acquaintances – and they would tell you that he was not as bad as “the media” was making out.

I had to bite my tongue. Savile is much, much worse than the media ever portrayed.

His victims were silenced by his influence and power.

It’s time to get rid of that house and wipe out predator’s connection to the Highlands

And that house still stands proudly in the middle of Scotland’s most glorious glen.

Its stark whiteness sticks out at one of the most beautiful spots near waterfalls and awe-inspiring mountains.

When the events unfolded after his death, the horrifying scale of Savile’s abuse was laid bare.

Sprawling hills of Glencoe.
Stunning landscape of Glencoe. Image: Sandy McCook/ DC Thomson.

Savile was in plain sight. Just as that house is, I am sure people did not condone his behaviour, but they did turn their heads.

We are continuing to turn heads every single day that Savile’s house remains.

It is not the house itself, it is what it stands for.

Nothing has changed, his shame, his victims – and the victims of any abuse – can see his pure white house in the middle of Glencoe.

I can not imagine the pain of that for any and all of his local victims.

The house’s history as a climbing lodge is important, and has complicated previous demolition plans – but it will always be overshadowed by Savile.

The house must be removed.