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Dead Watford teen Claire Ufland linked to Jimmy Savile scandal
The name of a Watford teenager, who committed suicide in the 1970s, has been linked to the scandal surrounding Sir Jimmy Savile and his alleged sexual abuse of underage girls.
On March 29, 1971, Claire Irene Ufland, a “Top of the Pops” dancer who dreamed of fame, was found dead by her mother Vera McAlpine at the family’s home in Bushey Mill Lane.
The 15-year-old had taken a fatal overdose of her mother’s sleeping tablets, after a series of arguments with Mrs McAlpine about household chores.
Close to the former Rosary Priory School girl’s body, was an empty bottle of tablets and her red diary.
At the time of Claire’s death, a Sunday newspaper claimed that her diary contained a record of associations with several top BBC disc jockeys and showbusiness personalities, all of whom she alleged had “used her” for their own sexual gratifications.
In light of the much publicised sex scandal involving Savile, Claire’s diary has sparked interest again, as it suggests she may have been a victim of the former Top of the Pops presenter’s alleged predatory sexual advances.
When The Watford Observer covered Claire’s inquest on April 7, 1971, only a photographic copy of the last entry of her diary was produced and read. It described how the “dreamer” could not face reality, and could not take anymore.
It stated: “Don’t laugh at me for being dramatic, but I just can’t take anymore. All anyone has ever done is tell me what a problem I am.
“Well, I have got some of Mummy’s pills. I am not sure what they are. I am going to eat them and some bread to keep them down (I bet it doesn’t work).
“I know it’s awful and very, very selfish, but I am sick of being told how selfish I am.”
It was only after Claire’s death, when Mrs McAlpine had given an interview to newspapers, did she express concern and reveal some of the diary’s details.
She said: “I’d been worried about her for some time, she was mad about the pop scene and always talking about disc jockeys and pop stars she met.
“I was very disturbed by other references in the diary, which mentioned many names. Some of the passages were so shocking that I would rather not repeat them. But the police know what they said.”
According to national newspapers, in one entry Claire claimed that a well known DJ had taken her to his house for the night and given her a pill which made her feel like she was “floating on a cloud’. Another had also allegedly invited her back to his “sumptuously furnished” residence.
Following Claire’s death, Jimmy Savile, then in his 40s, was asked in an interview if he knew or remembered her from the show. He said he did not, that he did not know anyone who lives in Watford.
Claire’s diary was scrutinised by Scotland Yard, but no action was taken against the DJs, and she was portrayed as a fantasist.
The latest focus on Claire’s diary was prompted by an ITV documentary broadcast last Wednesday, in which five women claimed they had been sexually assaulted or raped by Savile at a variety of locations, including at the BBC and at Duncroft Approved School for Girls in Surrey, where Savile had acted as benefactor.
Since that documentary, many more women have reportedly come forward with similar stories and an investigation has been launched into the sexual abuse allegations.
Mrs McAlpine passed away at the age of 90 last week. Her funeral takes place tomorrow.
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