Terry Gilliam: ‘Operation Yewtree is a witch-hunt’

Tom Slater

Tom Slater

Topics UK

With all the fanfare surrounding Monty Python’s upcoming reunion at London’s O2 arena, an announcement, perhaps even more unexpected, has managed to slip under the radar.

Terry Gilliam, the troupe’s resident cartoonist turned acclaimed filmmaker, has stuck his head above the parapet to puncture the post-Savile hysteria – dubbing Operation Yewtree a ‘witch-hunt’ and likening it to something you would expect to find in the former Soviet Union.

Considering the moral alarmism provoked by revelations of ‘historic’ sexual abuse last year – alleged to have been committed by Jimmy Savile and others at the BBC in the 1970s – this is a brave statement. The 71-year-old was apparently moved to speak up when his friend and BBC Radio DJ Paul Gambaccini was arrested in an Operation Yewtree probe.

‘In his case the police came at 4.30am. They took everything. He’s been suspended from the BBC – you’re guilty until proven innocent’, said Gilliam, in an interview with the Sun. ‘It’s civilisation based on victimisation – and that makes everyone in the public eye a potential target.’

Gilliam goes on to suggest that the hyperactive investigators are ignoring the different standards that existed in the past.

‘During that period, there was a liberation. Yes, there will always be people who take advantage. Jimmy Savile was one of them. That was a clear case’, he said.

Dumbfounded by the lack of scepticism towards Yewtree, Gilliam intends on giving this post-Savile state of affairs a Python-esque rinsing.

‘I want to say outrageous things because nobody’s making fun of this.’

An admirable aim, but with Operation Yewtree over a year old and the accompanying hysteria showing no signs of letting up, it’s doubtful Gilliam will manage to raise a smile.

Tom Slater is assistant editor at spiked.

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Topics UK


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