A PUBLIC apology has been issued to victims of a friend of Jimmy Savile by council bosses who admitted his crimes had also been “swept under the carpet”.

A police investigation into ice cream boss Peter Jaconelli, who died aged 73 in 1999, has already revealed he would have faced a string of charges.

Today (Monday, August 3), North Yorkshire County Council leader Carl Les said: “I extend my deepest sympathies to adults who were the victims of abuse in their childhood.

“I admire their courage and determination in ensuring that historic allegations are not simply swept under the carpet but are highlighted and investigated.

“I am sorry for the hurt that has been caused to the victims, survivors and their families.

“I am aware of the statements made by the police concerning Peter Jaconelli and that they have received details of a number of alleged offences over a period of years.

“Whilst he is not alive today to face the full force of the legal process, I regret if there is evidence to show that he was not a fit and proper person to be a County Councillor.

“We regret the impact on all those affected and can assure them that should they still want to make any disclosures, support will be provided to them and they will be listened to seriously and with sympathy”.

Regarded as a pillar of the community in his day, Glasgow-born Jaconelli was a mayor of Scarborough and chaired North Yorkshire's planning committee.

He was pictured with Prime Minister Ted Heath and guzzled his way into the Guinness Book of Records for downing 512 oysters in 48 minutes and 42 seconds.

He and Savile were suspected of being involved in the abuse of 35 young victims as part of a paedophile ring but cheated justice.

Whitby resident Nigel Ward led the campaign for an apology.

He said: “It provides formal acknowledgement to those who, having first been abused, then found themselves abused again by a system that simply did not want to know.

“That system is comprised of men and women who, like their counterparts at the BBC, gave their misplaced allegiance to the system – to the lasting cost of the children who Jaconelli unforgivably brutalised.

“Now the system does know – and lives to regret its former failings. That will mean a great deal to many of the people whom I have met and attempted to assist.”