Opportunities to prosecute Jimmy Savile for sex offences were missed because police and prosecutors did not take allegations seriously, a report says.
A review of the decision not to prosecute the TV presenter in 2009 was published by the legal adviser to the director of public prosecutions (DPP).
Alison Levitt QC found that had police and prosecutors “taken a different approach” prosecutions could have been possible in relation to three victims.
DPP Keir Starmer has apologised.
The review comes on the day the Metropolitan Police and NPSCC outlined details of the sexual abuse Savile carried out over a period of 50 years.
Savile committed offences at 13 hospitals and a Leeds hospice, the BBC and a number of schools, their report said.
The former presenter of BBC’s Top Of The Pops and Jim’ll Fix It, who also worked as a Radio 1 DJ and received a knighthood in 1990, died aged 84 in October 2011 – a year before the allegations emerged in an ITV documentary.
In May 2007 Surrey Police received an allegation that Savile had sexually assaulted a teenage girl at Duncroft Approved School in the 1970s.
During a police investigation two more allegations emerged – one from a girl who had been at Duncroft and the other from a girl who claimed he had sexually assaulted her at Stoke Mandeville Hospital.
In October 2009, Savile was interviewed under caution and said all three allegations had been invented by the complainants, who he claimed were after money.
He threatened to take legal action against the police and mentioned that he had sued five newspapers in the past.
Ms Levitt QC found in her report that prosecutions could have been possible “had the police and prosecutors taken a different approach”.
Mr Starmer said he wanted the case to be “a watershed moment”.
Ms Levitt said there was nothing to suggest the three victims who made allegations against Savile had colluded or were unreliable.
She said the police and prosecutors treated their claims “with a degree of caution which was neither justified nor required”.
Sussex Police received a complaint in March 2008 that Savile had sexually assaulted a woman in a caravan in Sussex in 1970.
This was passed on to Surrey Police, who consulted with the CPS about all four allegations but decided in October 2009 no prosecution could be brought because the victims would not support police action.
Ms Levitt found Surrey Police did not tell the victims other complaints had been made.
The victims told Ms Levitt that if they had known others were making complaints they probably would have been prepared to give evidence in court.
Surrey Police Assistant Chief Constable Jerry Kirkby said: “At the time, there was nothing to suggest the level of offending now being reported on a national scale.”
Deputy Chief Constable Giles York, from Sussex Police, said: “We welcome the DPP’s statement, including the finding that the Sussex Police case was handled by experienced and committed officers, who acted in good faith, seeking to apply the correct principles.
“We also recognise that we could have done better and are committed to honest reflection and learning lessons for the future.”