The trustees of the Jimmy Savile Charitable Trust are continuing their legal bid to block a compensation scheme for the disgraced broadcaster’s victims, because they say it could mean that more money goes to lawyers than to victims.
The trust was set up in 1985 to provide funds for the relief of poverty and sickness, and other charitable purposes, according to its entry on the Charity Commission’s register of charities.
According to its accounts, it was bequeathed the bulk of Savile’s estate, but will not receive this money until the matter of compensation for his victims has been concluded.
In February, the trustees of the charity went to the High Court to attempt to block a compensation scheme put together by the law firm Slater & Gordon, which represents more than 175 of those victims, and to have NatWest removed as the will’s executor.
The charity’s legal bid was rejected, but it applied for leave to appeal again this May.
This permission has now been granted by the High Court. A statement from the two trustees of the charity, prepared by its law firm PWT Advice, said its appeal had two aspects.
"First, we remain concerned by the amount of legal fees that NatWest has incurred (over £0.5m to date)," the statement said. "We are particularly concerned that NatWest’s lawyers took their fees from the estate without having any authority to do so at the time."
The second point, it said, was the fairness of the compensation scheme. "The current scheme gives the claimants’ lawyers an automatic right to claim fees of about £14,000 per claimant, irrespective of the amount the claimant receives," the statement said. "This could mean a claimant receives only a fraction of the amount paid to the lawyers."
This in turns means that more than £2m of the estate could be paid in legal fees, the statement said.
Jimmy Savile’s estate was initially believed to be worth more than £4m after his death in October 2011, but it is now valued at about £3.2m.
"It is our hope that we can protect the value of the estate by our application so that more money is available to pay to those who have proper claims against the estate," the trustees’ statement said. "As charity trustees, we also have an obligation to protect the funds that will go to charity, if there is anything left in the estate after paying the claims."
Jo Summers, a partner at PWT Advice, said: "The appeal will be heard in the Court of Appeal in the next court term, but we haven't got a date fixed yet. We're waiting for the court listing people to give us a date." The next legal term runs from 1 October to 19 December.
No one from Slater & Gordon or NatWest was immediately available for comment.