Sir Jimmy Savile's headstone will be broken up and sent to landfill after it was removed late on Tuesday night.

The elaborate tombstone was removed at midnight after Savile's family requested it be taken away out of "respect to public opinion". The move came after police said they believe the "predatory sex offender" could have abused up to 25 victims over 40 years.

Savile's family members said they made the decision to ensure the "dignity and sanctity" of Woodlands Cemetery in Scarborough.

The headstone, which bears the star's image and lists his accomplishments, including the epitaph "It was good while it lasted", was due to be removed at 7am on Wednesday but work was brought forward to midnight to avoid unwanted attention, and out of respect for those with relatives in the graveyard.

It has now been taken to a stonemason's yard in Leeds where the inscription will be ground down and will then be broken up and sent to landfill.

Funeral director Robert Morphit, of Joseph A Hey and Son, who organised Savile's funeral, said: "Yesterday afternoon the family contacted me and said they'd thought very carefully about the course of action with regard to the stone. They had decided that in order to protect the dignity and sanctity of this cemetery it was appropriate to remove the stone."

The grave, in which Savile was buried at an angle so he could "see" Scarborough Castle and the sea, will remain unmarked for the foreseeable future. The prime spot, which is roped off, is now identifiable only by several bunches of flowers on a dirt patch.

On Tuesday, Commander Peter Spindler, Scotland Yard's head of specialist crime investigations, said the abuse appeared to have been on a "national scale". He told the BBC: "At this stage it is quite clear from what women are telling us that Savile was a predatory sex offender."

Scotland Yard has formally recorded eight criminal allegations against the former Top Of The Pops presenter so far in its investigation, with officers looking into up to 120 lines of inquiry that could lead to up to 25 victims.

Greater Manchester Police said it had received two separate complaints of abuse by Savile. "These are historic complaints dating back to the 1960s," it said.