HAMPSHIRE TV star Esther Rantzen last night tried to distance herself from the controversy surrounding Jimmy Savile as she faces new calls to resign from a charity.

The founder of ChildLine, who lives in Bramshaw in the New Forest, said she could not recall ever having a conversation with abuse campaigner Shy Keenan about rumour's of Savile's serial sex abuse of young girls.

But the allegations that she failed to act 18 years ago has led the National Association for People Abused in Childhood to consider her position as patron of the charity.

However, the veteran broadcaster insisted that while she did hear rumours, she never heard or saw any evidence and would have acted upon it if she had.

Ms Rantzen said: “I don't mean any disrespect to the lady but I don't remember any conversation with her.

“I have had a great many conversations with people over the years and whenever possible I have investigated what people told me and told the police and social services.

“I never heard anything from a child or from anyone who worked with him. The rumours I heard were from people who never met him and they could have easily been as false as they were true.

“If we had any sort of evidence we would have reported it immediately to the police.”

Police have revealed that Savile's alleged catalogue of abuse could have spanned six decades and have so far identified around 60 potential victims, including two from Hampshire.

The scandal has mushroomed since ITV screened a documentary in which five women alleged they were abused by the late DJ and broadcaster and the BBC have announced two inquiries will be launched into the allegations.