Sir Clement Freud’s widow issues heartfelt apology after her late husband is named as sexual abuser of an underage girl
The documentary strand that exposed Jimmy Savile presents compelling testimony that the Just a Minute star sexually abused Sylvia Woosley and groomed another girl from the age of 11
Clement Freud’s widow Jill Freud has apologised profusely to two alleged sexual abuse victims of her husband who have come forward after decades of silence.
Sir Clement, who died in 2009, was a one-time MP and broadcasting treasure who was a regular on Radio 4’s Just a Minute. He is to be named as an alleged sexual predator and child abuser by the ITV Exposure programme, which also unmasked Jimmy Savile, in an edition airing on Wednesday night.
Sylvia Woosley, now in her late seventies (below), claims in the programme that she was groomed and abused by Sir Clement, a close family friend when he took her into his London home when her own parents’ marriage broke up.
She describes the pain she has carried throughout her life as the result of the abuse she says she suffered at the hands of Freud, which included multiple instances of inappropriate fondling and worse.
The film also hears from a second alleged victim of Freud – someone unknown to Sylvia – who says she was also groomed and sexually abused by him from the age of 11. He eventually had violent sex with her against her will when she was 18, she claims.
The woman, whose testimony was given under condition of anonymity, says he had sex with her in her flat in 1978 when she was 18 and then nonchalantly left her on the bed while he went to watch a World Cup Game.
Both women describe the pain and torment caused by their experiences and how they have devastated their lives.
Sylvia says the making of the film has given her a profound sense of relief – of a burden being lifted: “It is the child in me that is speaking – the child that wants to be freed.”
Clement Freud’s widow Jill Freud, now 89, has also responded to the programme’s claims with a heartfelt apology.
“This is a very sad day for me. I was married to Clement for 58 years and loved him dearly. I am shocked, deeply saddened and profoundly sorry for what has happened to these women. I sincerely hope they will now have some peace.”
The alleged abuse of Sylvia (below, as a young girl) began when she was 10 and living in the south of France with her mother and stepfather. Sir Clement was a family friend who took a special interest in her – taking her on trips and showering her with the attention she craved.
Not long after the abuse started, she went to live with Clement and his family after her mother’s marriage broke down. This continued from the aged of 14 until she left home when she was 18.
She says Freud paid frequent nighttime visits to her room leaving her feeling scared, anxious and ashamed – feelings, she says, that have stayed with her all her life. Her claims were not believed by her own mother, who is now dead.
According to Nazir Afzal, former national lead on the sexual abuse of children for the Crown Prosecution Service, the details of the abuse would have led to a prosecution if Sir Clement were alive today.
He tells the programme: “If I was still chief prosecutor I would have no doubt in my mind that there is sufficient evidence to prosecute Sir Clement Freud, and it would definitely be in the public interest to prosecute him.”
Sir Clement was revered as a broadcaster, racing enthusiast and TV and radio personality. His funeral in London was attended by a number of luminaries including Stephen Fry, Bono, then Prime Minister Gordon Brown and George Osborne the future Chancellor of the Exchequer.
He was the grandson of Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis and a brother of the celebrated artist Lucian Freud.
He was on the first edition of Just a Minute (below) in 1967 and appeared in every series until his death. He was also one of TV's first celebrity chefs and went on to run a restaurant in Sloane Square.
Sir Clement was also known for appearing in a dog food commercial alongside a bloodhound called Henry who wore a similarly hangdog expression.
Freud was elected to Parliament as a Liberal MP in 1973 and remained in the post until 1987.
At his death, Freud was survived by his wife, his five children, and 17 grandchildren.
The programme is being broadcast in the Exposure strand, the ITV documentary series that first exposed the seriousness of the crimes of Jimmy Savile.
Exposure: Abused & Betrayed – A Life Sentence airs on ITV at 11:05pm on Wednesday