The BBC's Charter and its Producers Guidelines state:
...'Due impartiality lies at the heart of the BBC. All programs and services should be open minded, fair and show a respect for truth? [BBC reports should] contain comprehensive, authoritative and impartial coverage of news and current affairs in the United Kingdom and throughout the world??
The new Director-General of the BBC, George Entwistle, failed to adequately respond to an impassioned warning from a senior Newsnight journalist that the Corporation has been involved in a "concerted effort" to cover up the circumstances surrounding its decision not to screen an investigation into sexual abuse by Jimmy Savile.
A leading journalist on the original Savile exposé, Liz MacKean, has told Mr Entwistle he is mistaken in the account he has given to the BBC's staff and that the Corporation has issued "repeated misleading statements", The Independent has learnt.
Mr Entwistle declined the opportunity to speak to Ms MacKean even though he knew her, and his only response was a two-line note, passing the matter to a colleague. The Director-General's handling of the matter is likely to weaken his position ahead of his appearance before Parliament on Tuesday, when he is expected to face difficult questions on his handling of the scandal that emerged during his first month in his post.
Ms MacKean and her colleague Meirion Jones, both experienced investigative journalists working on the original Savile story for the BBC, were today summoned to a meeting by Peter Horrocks, the BBC's Director of Global News, who has stepped in to oversee the Corporation's ongoing coverage.
It is believed to be the first time the two journalists who worked on the investigation have been given the chance to put their version of events to senior BBC management. In her email to Mr Entwistle 12 days ago, Ms MacKean said she wanted to "share with you my disquiet about the handling of the Newsnight Savile story". She denied Mr Entwistle's previous assertion that the story was "about the Surrey police investigation" and rejected an account by the Newsnight editor Peter Rippon, who posted a blog on the BBC website on 2 October, the day before ITV's Savile documentary, explaining his decision to drop the BBC's story.
"Ever since the report was dropped [by the BBC], just ahead of it being edited, there have been repeated misleading statements from the press office about the nature of our investigation," wrote MacKean, who also complained about Newsnight's coverage of the scandal, once it had broken.
"To see what began as a BBC story running large on ITV is a hard thing. For it not to be mentioned in any way on Newsnight is another, quite absurd, thing. But worst of all has been what seems like a concerted effort to make it appear that our story was about something else, something that could be dropped and forgotten ahead of fulsome tribute programmes. It is this which seems to be fuelling the damaging claims of a cover-up."
The journalist's suggestion that the investigation was close to the edit stage and was sacrificed in December 2011 for How's About That Then?, a positive programme about Savile's life – which fell under Mr Entwistle's responsibility as BBC Director of Vision – raises questions about whether he did enough to satisfy himself that the former Jim'll Fix It presenter was worthy of such a tribute – and whether Mr Rippon should have warned BBC senior management about the evidence his team had gathered.
Mr Entwistle has publicly said he was determined not to interfere in an independent editorial process and although he was aware of a Newsnight investigation into Savile "had no idea what the nature of the investigation was".
He replied to Ms MacKean – who he knew from his time as editor of Newsnight – with a two-line note: "Thank you for this. I have asked Ken MacQuarrie from BBC Scotland to get in touch with you to discuss this." But Mr MacQuarrie's role was quickly superseded by other official BBC inquiries announced this month.
Rob Wilson, the Conservative MP for Reading East, said: "George Entwistle's biggest weakness is that he failed in his duty on behalf of the licence fee payers – he should have been in a position to stop the tribute programmes because he was asking the right questions internally about Jimmy Savile."
The Independent understands that a documentary by the BBC's own Panorama programme into the Savile scandal has obtained a series of internal BBC emails which throw new light on the background to the decision not to broadcast the Newsnight exposé.
Panorama interviewed both MacKean and Jones on Thursday and is understood to be in possession of an email from Jones, in which the investigative reporter warned Rippon in December 2011 of the likely consequences of his decision to abandon the story, accurately predicting the furore that has engulfed the BBC 10 months later.
Another contemporaneous email from MacKean, written to a friend, is said to express her frustration that Rippon had pulled the programme after expressing a reluctance to fight the BBC's internal compliance culture.
A further email contains Rippon's response to the BBC press office's email about the programme – in which he says that the investigation has been dropped and reportedly accuses the Corporation's communications team of putting "the cart before the horse".
This correspondence is understood to have been copied to the Deputy Director of BBC News, Stephen Mitchell, and raises further questions as to how much the BBC executive team knew of the strength of Newsnight's evidence on Savile, ahead of the tribute programme on 28 December.
After news emerged that ITV was planning a documentary on allegations of sexual abuse by Savile, MacKean is understood to have made a late attempt to salvage the Newsnight piece but was told "we are not going to jump on the ITV bandwagon".
Panorama is hoping to screen its documentary on Monday evening. Jones is now working with the flagship investigative team – which is a fierce rival of Newsnight's – although he is understood to have only a consultancy role.
The Panorama programme is expected to be presented by Scottish-based presenter Shelley Jofre, who had no connection with the previous investigation.
Mr Horrocks' decision to hold talks today with the two Newsnight journalists was regarded within the BBC news division as a signal of his intention to take a leading role in the crisis, which has raised doubts about Mr Entwistle's future as Director-General.
Horrocks's role on the Savile story is the result of Director of News Helen Boaden having to stand back from coverage of the issue as she was head of the chain of command when the piece was dropped. The BBC says this was an editorial decision taken by Mr Rippon.
Earlier this week, the Culture Secretary Maria Miller called on the chair of the BBC Trust Lord Patten to seek assurances that the BBC's independent reviews into the Savile affair, led by former High Court judge Dame Janet Smith and former head of Sky News Nick Pollard, will have "unfettered access" to all sources of information.
Yesterday, Scotland Yard announced that Operation Yewtree, the inquiry into alleged child sexual exploitation by Savile and others, has become a formal criminal investigation.
After two weeks of gathering information from both the public and a number of organisations, more than 400 lines of inquiry have been assessed and over 200 potential victims have been identified.
A spokesman for Scotland Yard said: "As we have said from the outset, our work was never going to take us into a police investigation in to Jimmy Savile. What we have established in the past two weeks is that there are lines of inquiry involving living people that require formal investigation."
Peter Watt, Head of the NSPCC's helpline, said: "It's now looking possible that Jimmy Savile was one the most prolific sex offenders the NSPCC has ever come across. We have received more than 136 calls directly relating to allegations against him which we've passed to the police."
A BBC spokesman said: "The BBC has confirmed it has launched an independent review lead by former court of appeal judge Dame Janet Smith which will cover these questions. It would not be appropriate to comment further until these have been concluded."
How do you know when the BBC are lying? Answer - when they have a personal interest in the outcome.
At least some of the staff appear to be unhappy with the developments of this case as evidenced by the emails 'leaking' to do with it. More and more it looks like a cover-up with regard to the cancelled Newsnight programme, as well as consciously avoiding exposing Savile knowing it would reflect on their own complicity in the matter.
How does the BBC relate to these leaked emails? They call this evidence 'ridiculous', and affirm the line they want to be accepted.
Even if it was a soap opera it would lack creativity. It's not - it's real, and we are forced to pay for them.
Senior reporter Liz MacKean warned BBC chief George Entwistle about a cover-up at the BBC
He has refused to appear on a Panorama programme due to air on Monday, expected to probe why the original documentary was dropped
MPs have demanded full disclosure of all email shared between senior BBC staff over scandal
By Paul Revoir
A senior journalist who was part of the original Newsnight expose into Jimmy Saville child-abuse allegations warned the BBC director general not to cover-up why the report was dropped.
The leaked email suggests BBC chief George Entwistle ignored a pressing plea from investigative reporter Liz MacKean, about his ‘misleading statements’ regarding the content of the cancelled programme.
He declined to speak to Ms MacKean about the matter despite her urgent email sent 12 days ago but has since spoken to senior BBC management about her version of events.
In the email to the director general, seen by The Independent, she said: ‘Worst of all has been what seems like a concerted effort to make it appear that our story was about something else, something that could be dropped and forgotten ahead of fulsome tribute programmes.
'It is this which seems to be fuelling the damaging claims of a cover-up.’
The damaging leaked email comes ahead of a Panorama investigation into Jimmy Savile, due to air on Monday, which is expected to look into why the BBC dropped its original Newsnight report on the TV star last year.
But Mr Entwistle has refused to be interviewed for the programme - citing legal advice that he should restrict his statements to the police, official inquiries and a commons committee hearing on Tuesday.
MPs are now demanding that every BBC email linked to the decision by Newsnight to drop an investigation into Jimmy Savile’s abuse of teenage girls should be made public.
Correspondence leading all the way to the top of the corporation should be disclosed in a bid to retain public trust, they insisted.
It follows the emergence of a leaked e-mail which appears to cast more doubt on the BBC’s stated reason on why the current affairs show dropped the programme.
The memo suggests Newsnight journalists had been ‘focusing on allegations of abuse’ rather than, as has been claimed was the case by the BBC, on the allegation of a failure by police to look into the case properly.
The email from a press officer shows that, by December 7 last year, the BBC was at an advanced enough stage to be readying ‘lines to take’ when questioned about the planned broadcast.
It reveals that the BBC was conscious that it would create difficult questions about why the corporation had not investigated the star when he was alive.
In the email, the press officer admits that ‘we may well need to do a bit of managing around this’.
There were also growing calls last night for the BBC’s director of news Helen Boaden to appear in front of MPs to give her version of events.
While much of the attention has focused on Mr Entwistle and what he knew, insiders have pointed out that the prime focus should instead be on Miss Boaden.
Unlike Mr Entwistle, she is said to have known the outline of what was in the Newsnight investigation.
MPs are questioning why she had not used her knowledge of the allegations to get the BBC to pull the Savile tribute programmes last Christmas.
Last night MPs called for all relevant emails to be published.
This could include any messages sent between Newsnight editor Peter Rippon, deputy director of news Stephen Mitchell and Miss Boaden.
Tory MP Rob Wilson, who received the leaked email from a BBC insider, has been tirelessly campaigning to get to the bottom of the Newsnight case.
He said: ‘I think at some point certainly all the internal evidence that is collected should be published as part of any report in the same way a select committee would do that.’
Conservative MP, John Whittingdale, who chairs the culture, media and sport select committee, said in order to ‘restore credibility’ all ‘relevant evidence’, such as emails, should be made public. But he added this should be done as part of Nick Pollard’s BBC independent inquiry into Newsnight.
Another select committee member Tory MP, Philip Davies, said: ‘I think the BBC may well have to [publish the emails] because I think they are in a very serious situation.
‘Again it comes back to the point that this is their phone-hacking moment and it will get to a stage where people will want to see what the evidence is to make up their own mind.’
MPs also said Miss Boaden may in the coming weeks have to appear in front the culture, media and sport select committee which is quizzing Mr Entwistle about the Savile scandal on Tuesday.
Mr Wilson said: ‘There are questions whichever way you look at it.
'If George Entwistle’s version of events is correct then it means Helen Boaden knew that there were issues to do with the transmission of the Savile tribute programmes because she knew that there was a Jimmy Savile investigation going on.’
He said presuming she had known about the content he questioned why she had not thought it ‘completely inappropriate’ to let the Savile tribute shows go out.
The MP added: ‘I have already written to John Whittingdale suggesting that he may wish to call both Rippon, Newsnight reporters and Boaden before him.’
Mr Whittingdale has said his committee would ‘reserve the right’ to call other people in if there were still questions to be answered.
A BBC spokesman said of the press office email: ‘This ridiculous story in no way casts doubt on what the BBC has previously said on this. It is simply an exchange between a junior press officer and the Newsnight producer asking for further information about the Jimmy Savile investigation.’
It appears the BBC hierarchy have finally come to the realisation that they won't be able to maintain their usual bullshit and come through this unscathed. They've seen that various pigeons are coming home to roost, and that the credibility that they rely upon, no matter there having been little foundation for it, is being justly seriously undermined.
A variety of stories to which I'll just provide links for that point to several issues going on at this time: In the first George Entwistle, the BBC director-general, will be accused by his own journalists of misleading the public about his role in the scandal.
An hour-long Panorama special, featuring newly disclosed emails and interviews, will raise serious questions about Mr Entwistle’s role in the decision to drop a Newsnight exposé of Savile.
The second and third: Jimmy Savile: the BBC emails Emails between senior members of BBC staff give insight into whether the corporation scrapped its Jimmy Savile Newsnight investigation after coming “under pressure” from managers.
The Crown Prosecution Service said it investigated four potential cases of sexual assault against Jimmy Savile in 2009, not one as previously reported. It has emerged none of the alleged victims "would support a prosecution", meaning they were prepared to talk to police but did not wish to give evidence in court. On that basis the CPS concluded it was not possible to bring a prosecution
BBC director general George Entwistle will appear in front of MPs at the culture, media and sport select committee on Tuesday. The committee's chairman, John Whittingdale, said the BBC boss had serious questions to answer over why the corporation dropped a Newsnight investigation into sex abuse claims against Savile
The BBC's governing body, the BBC Trust, has issued a statement saying it was deeply concerned about "inaccuracies in the BBC's own description of what happened in relation to the Newsnight investigation".
The Metropolitan Police have launched a criminal inquiry into the allegations against Savile. They have described the former BBC presenter and DJ, who died in October 2011 aged 84, as a predatory sex offender.
Analysis Torin Douglas Media correspondent How much trouble is the BBC in?
It's world affairs editor John Simpson sparked headlines this morning when he said it was the biggest crisis he could remember in 50 years.
Some thought that over the top, pointing out that the corporation lost both its chairman and director-general after the Hutton Report in 2004.
But now things have got worse.
The BBC has had to admit there were errors in the Newsnight editor's explanation of why he dropped its Jimmy Savile investigation.
The one silver lining is that it's Panorama, one of the BBC's own news programmes, that has brought the errors to light.
But that may be small comfort for George Entwistle, as he faces MPs tomorrow to explain the BBC's handling of the crisis.
They believe he may have sexually abused many people, including young girls, over a 40-year period, sometimes on BBC premises.
Mr Entwistle has announced two BBC inquiries regarding the sex abuse claims.
The first is looking into why the Newsnight investigation was shelved and is being led by former head of Sky News Nick Pollard. It is expected to report in December.
The second will be led by former High Court judge Dame Janet Smith and will examine the culture of the BBC during the years that Savile worked there. The results are expected in spring 2013.
In a further move, the BBC is also to appoint an independent expert to look at sexual harassment claims and practices.
Claims Newsnight had no evidence that any staff from the Duncroft approved school could or should have known about allegations of abuse involving pupils
An assertion Newsnight had no evidence against the BBC - the correction states there had been some allegations of abusive conduct on BBC premises
A statement in the blog saying all the women spoken to by the programme had contacted the police independently already and that Newsnight had no new evidence against any other person that would have helped the police
The statement said: "The BBC regrets these errors and will work with the Pollard Review to assemble all relevant evidence to enable the review to determine the full facts.
"In addition, the BBC has announced that Peter Rippon is stepping aside with immediate effect from his post while the review by Nick Pollard... into the management of Newsnight's investigation is carried out."
Mr Rippon has said he dropped the Newsnight report for editorial reasons In a statement, Prime Minister David Cameron said: "The nation is appalled - we're all appalled - by the allegations of what Jimmy Savile did and they seem to get worse by the day.
"And so, every organisation that was involved with him, whether the NHS or whether the BBC, needs to get to the bottom of what happened.
"The developments today are concerning because the BBC has effectively changed its story about why it dropped the Newsnight programme about Jimmy Savile - so these are serious questions.
"They need to be answered by these independent reviews that the BBC has established and I'm sure that they will be," he said.
BBC chief political correspondent Norman Smith said Mr Entwistle's appearance in front of the Commons culture committee on Tuesday "could be an absolutely critical moment for the BBC".
"If things go badly for the BBC... there is going to be huge huge pressure on the government to set up some sort of inquiry," our correspondent said.
Lord Patten, chairman of the BBC Trust, said he was "deeply concerned" about the inaccuracies in Mr Rippon's account of the reasons for scrapping the Newsnight investigation.
A Trust spokeswoman added: "The chairman has referred two or three times to the Peter Rippon blog, which he believed on the basis of assurances at the time to be accurate.
"He is deeply concerned that this proves not now to be the case."
The spokeswomen confirmed the Pollard review would investigate "how these inaccuracies came to be in the blog along with everything else in the Newsnight investigation."
Meanwhile, a BBC Panorama programme due to be aired on Monday night challenges the BBC's explanation for the dropping of the Savile investigation.
Mr Rippon has argued he took the decision for editorial reasons because the report would have been much stronger if Newsnight could have proven some institutional failure by the police over Savile's abuse - which the programme failed to do.
But the film's producer and reporter say they had been investigating whether Jimmy Savile was a paedophile - and claim they had enough evidence and interviews for a transmission date to be set.
Panorama says it found no evidence to suggest that Mr Rippon was pressured from above to drop the report ahead of a Christmas tribute to Savile. It also says individuals named in the programme have not yet responded to the specific points raised.
My first thought is how much pressure has been exerted on the BBC for them to finally correct their initial assertions about why Newsnight was dropped. The 'corrections' they refer to are a result of being found out they were plainly lying and trying to avoid the ramifications of what they know they did. Any wonder why those who can only write complaints to the BBC over one issue or other receive little joy, and a whole lot of frustration? But for internal revolt over what many BBC employees knew to be a travesty, they would have continued with their lies and deception.
There was talk last week that the Panorama programme dealing with this issue was not going to be aired before Entwistle appeared tomorrow before MPs. Seems as if pressure has made them aware this was not viewed very favourably, and they will now go ahead on schedule for this evening. It still shows the lengths they go to to affect public opinion on a daily basis when they know they can get away with it.
They mention that world affairs editor John Simpson has called it 'the biggest crisis for them in 50 years', yet ignore John Humphrey's recent statement about this affair being a witchhunt, and that most of the abuse was not that serious. I notice too that when Humphrey made this statement it was in an interview with Labour Deputy Leader Harriet Harman. Reading this piece today by Melanie Phillips about how Harman was once employed by a group promoting lowering the age of sexual consent, it looks like Humphrey thought he would get an easy ride with her. This too backfired on him, which I guess is why they had Simpson issue his statement.
Then the article tells us The BBC's governing body, the BBC Trust, has issued a statement saying it was deeply concerned about "inaccuracies in the BBC's own description of what happened in relation to the Newsnight investigation". However, if you remember at the beginning of this affair, the head of the BBC Trust, Chris Patten, along with Entwistle, gave a clean bill of health to why the Newsnight programme was pulled. If he didn't know the facts, or wasn't sure that this was valid, why was he so quick to make this statement.
I think this shows how much value Patten has in his post.
How ironic that the issue that is showing the true colours of the BBC has the word Vile in it.
Last Edit: Oct 22, 2012 18:38:18 GMT by Teddy Bear
Keep in mind that the BBC are starting to realise that they are being scrutinised now by those who are not taken in with the usual BS they generate. This is why they've had to do an about turn on so many statements that they issued earlier on. Plus their own staff is keeping an eye on what their bosses are trying to do, since they feel shafted.
Although you may know an organisation is corrupt in the way they conduct business, the questions that still need to be answered are to what extent, and how do they conduct themselves to produce the output they do.
I know the chronic bias that is endemic to the BBC, and what areas this bias is applied to. I can only conjecture as to the reasons for this bias, which is modified as evidence of reasons becomes apparent. So for example when considering the BBC's pro-militant Islamic bias, some of it I apply to coercion and subsequent fear by BBC staff to over-promote these groups. There is also the desire by the BBC to dominate world media, and without ingratiating themselves and appeasing the Muslim world, they can't see how to accomplish it. I don't discount the possibility that the hierarchy within the BBC may be receiving bribes to promote the Islamic agenda, but without evidence this remains purely a distinct possibility to add to their existing motives.
With the Savile debacle we can observe a lot of internal dynamics that are exposed. We get to see the inner workings and not just the outer results.
Entwistle appeared before the MP's today, and apparently the outcome does not look good for him. What I wonder about is considering how timely this scandal has evolved, just following the exits of Thompson and Boaden for 'greener pastures'. Therefore was the apparent 'timid' Entwistle 'chosen' to the director general role to be the fall guy for what was to ensue. I'm holding my breath on that one for a while to see what follows.
There is a question about why when Entwistle first heard about the potential problems surrounding the proposed Newsnight exposee, he didn't pursue it any further. When you read it as described in the article below, I believe it sheds light on the inner workings within the BBC. Why lesser managers, as Entwistle was - despite his previous title, and not privy to the machinations of the hierarchy, fulfil their role within a 3 wise monkey 'do not disturb' environment.
Until the shit hits the fan, and by coincidence he finds himself in the top job just as it happens.
Let's see how deep these enquiries go, and whether they will really answer ALL the questions to be asked about the workings of the BBC for all this to happen.
George Entwistle is not only the Director General of the BBC, he is also its editor-in-chief. That’s a fine title, enjoyed by some of Fleet Street’s biggest beasts over the years. But in turns out that in George’s case, it doesn’t amount to a row of beans.
During his testimony to the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee this morning, Entwistle was asked what the title meant. Well, he said, it did not mean that he had “direct editorial control”. So what did it mean? It meant he had “editorial responsibility.”
So, to stand Stanley Baldwin’s famous denunciation of the popular press on its head, he had responsibility without power. What’s the point of that? And in case we thought he was just being prissy, he was later pressed on why he had demonstrated such staggering lack of curiosity when warned by his head of news, Helen Boaden, that Newsnight was investigating Jimmy Savile and Entwistle might need to change his Christmas TV schedule, which featured a couple of tribute programmes to the man we now know to have been a predatory paedophile.
Why hadn’t Entwistle asked a few questions – out of idle curiosity, if nothing else? This was his 22-carat reply: “I did not want to do anything that could be construed as showing excessive interest”. So the BBC’s editor-in-chief did not even make the most cursory of enquiries about an investigation into one of the Corporation’s biggest stars. Why in heaven’s name not? Because, the DG explained, it might have been construed as an attempt to impose pressure on BBC journalists. That gives the patronising impression that they must be a bunch of shrinking violets, which they aren't.
There are two conclusions to be drawn from these extraordinary remarks. First, the BBC is so obsessively hierarchical and over-managed that it is close to being dysfunctional. Second, that Entwistle is out of his depth – too timid to lead, an editor-in-chief who doesn’t make things happen but has things happen to him.
Watching the world’s greatest broadcaster tear itself apart over Jimmy Savile has been uncomfortable – at times excruciating – over recent weeks. But it also made for gripping television in Monday’s Panorama: Jimmy Savile – What the BBC Knew (BBC One).
Here was Paul Gambaccini, talking about the early 70s, when he was a junior DJ on Radio 1. Stories would be told in the office, said Gambaccini, about the making of the programme Savile’s Travels – and how Savile “would go off with an institutionalised young woman”.
Here was Rodney Collins, a Radio 1 press officer in those same years, telling how he asked his Fleet Street contacts about Savile – and how they all had the same reply: there were rumours, but no police interest.
Here was transsexual Steven George, who told of meeting Savile when he was still a young girl, Alison, and a patient at Broadmoor – and how Savile “put his hand between my legs, quickly, not really looking at me”.
As with so many top-class documentaries – think Channel 4’s recent revelations about Ian Brady and, indeed, the ITV Exposure programme that kicked off the entire Jimmy Savile furore – this edition of Panorama had generated plenty of headlines even before its transmission. More than headlines, in fact: when its contents were briefed to Monday’s newspapers, they caused the BBC into an embarrassing climbdown.
For over two weeks, the BBC has relied on two principal defences against suspicions that the original Newsnight investigation, in December last year, was pulled by the programme’s editor, Peter Rippon, for improper reasons (not least, it has been speculated, to save two Jimmy Savile tribute programmes which were scheduled for broadcast at Christmas). First, said the BBC, Newsnight was not doing its own investigation into paedophile assault allegations against Savile – but rather, an examination of whether Surrey Police properly investigated allegations made to them in 2007.
But in this edition of Panorama, Liz MacKean – the Newsnight reporter who had been working on the Savile investigation, said plainly: “The story we were investigating was very clear cut. It was about Jimmy Savile being a paedophile, and using his status as a charity fundraiser and television presenter to get access to places where there were vulnerable teenage girls he could abuse.”
Secondly, the BBC has claimed that Newsnight dropped its investigation because no evidence of “institutional failure” was found at Surrey Police – in other words, that Surrey Police carried out a proper investigation, of all the evidence, and dropped its inquiries because that evidence was found wanting.
Yet Meirion Jones, MacKean’s producer on the Savile investigation, said during Panorama: “The key witness, Karin Ward, categorically told us she had not gone to the police – and Peter [Rippon] was reminded many times that this was the case, both verbally and in writing.”
Jones spoke passionately, and we saw an extract from an email of protest that he had sent.
With advance notice of these bits of the Panorama programme, BBC management were yesterday forced to admit that Rippon’s defence of his actions – posted in a blog early this month – was “inaccurate or incomplete”. Yet that served only to inflame tempers inside the BBC yesterday, with insiders starting to wonder openly not only if Rippon can survive – but also about the future of Helen Boaden, the director of news, and even of the newly-anointed director-general, George Entwistle, himself.
The Panorama programme showed an email from MacKean to a friend at the end of November last year, recounting that Rippon “says if the bosses aren’t happy… [he] can’t go to the wall on this one.” But Panorama didn’t offer any evidence that Boaden (or indeed any other BBC management) had applied any kind of pressure on Newsnight to stop its investigation being broadcast.
What Panorama did have – from an unnamed source – was evidence about what Boaden told Entwistle. The programme said specifically that they spoke at an awards ceremony on on 2 December 2011 for less than 10 seconds – but 10 seconds in which Boaden told Entwistle that if the Newsnight investigation went ahead, he might have to change the Christmas schedules. It was impossible not to wonder who had briefed Panorama on that conversation, and why.
So Panorama was a programme that left open more questions than it answered. We still weren’t given a convincing explanation as to why Rippon decided to pull the Newsnight investigation at all – and, in particular, to pull it completely, instead of allowing it to gather more evidence. We still don’t know what dealings Rippon had with his BBC News bosses before he made that decision. And most tantalisingly of all, we still don’t know Entwistle’s rationale for going ahead with the Savile tributes last Christmas.
But this Panorama was nonetheless a game-changing piece of journalism – and all the more compelling, in a car-crash kind of way, because it was made by one bit of the BBC about another. The fact that that can happen at all is testament to the tenacity of the BBC’s journalists.
But the strength of BBC management is still being tested.
I see and read various articles on this story regarding what has happened in the past with regard to Savile's actions, how he was enabled by the various reprehensible organisations he was affiliated to, by their turning their gaze while knowing what was going on, and ignoring the rumours and complaints they had previously received.
Now I wait to see if the focus will address the main issues of this story.
Considering the BBC complicity in the past, we can be sure that the Newsnight story about Savile's deeds would have also drawn attention to them.
Nobody involved could have had any doubt that this would be the case, least of all the various department heads surrounding this production. Yet they first tried to claim that the Newsnight story was suspended for editorial reasons.
Now this has been found to be untrue, then ALL those who have subsequently tried to claim that they were either unaware of it, or did not pursue it further, are simply lying. Still trying to deflect guilt from themselves for their true motives.
So it is not possible that Thompson, Boaden, Entwistle, and Rippon, were unaware of the implications of this story, or that they failed to understand that any decision they would make to avoid showing it would not be seen as averting attention from the inner world of the BBC.
Not only the above bosses, but also Patten, the head of the BBC Trust went along with the initial claims of the BBC. If he was unaware of the real story, why did he publicly go along with it? That is not his job.
Regardless of whatever happens to the BBC as a whole as a result of this scandal, unless each of those involved, including Patten, are publicly denounced and relieved of whatever posts they presently hold, in any company, then justice is not being done.
I am glad to see that Thompson, who seemed to think he was free and clear, is now coming under scrutiny, as well as some of the others, as the following 2 articles show.
A Conservative MP has become the first politician to suggest the senior figures at the BBC might have to resign over the Jimmy Savile sex abuse scandal.
Sir Roger Gale said Lord Patten, the chairman of the BBC Trust, and George Entwistle, the BBC director-general, may have to “fall on their swords.”
The member for North Thanet, himself a former producer and director of current affairs programmes for the broadcaster, criticised Lord Patten’s thinly veiled warning to Maria Miller, the Culture Secretary, that the Government should not wade into the row.
He said: "Chris Patten is an old friend and a former parliamentary colleague for whom I have had a high regard. But in his comment he has made it clear that he is out of touch, not only with the strength of feeling and concern in Parliament about the 'Savile affair' and related matters but, more importantly, with the strength of public revulsion at what has happened at Television Centre and with the corporate culture that, for the best part of 40 years, has apparently covered it up.
"Attack may be the best form of defence but in seeking to criticise a Culture Secretary who has not, ever, sought to challenge the independence of the BBC, he indicates how very little, within that corporate arrogance, has really changed.”
In a letter to Lord Patten, Ms Miller warned the scandal had raised "very real concerns" about public trust in the corporation.
She said it was vital that the independent inquiries into what had happened were "able to follow the evidence wherever it takes them".
In his response, the peer wrote: "I know that you will not want to give any impression that you are questioning the independence of the BBC.”
But Sir Roger argued that “the 'Auntie knows best' line simply does not wash any more.”
He said: "BBC management, over far too many years, has sought to maintain an imperious disdain for criticism and it has become clear that successive directors general have, while happy to criticise others for not answering difficult questions, either turned a blind eye to criminal activities or have not known what has been going on on their own doorstep, which is also culpable.
"It is as if your favourite and respectable aunt has been revealed to be on the game, and if Lord Patten is not able to grasp that, then I fear that not only the director general but also the chairman of the BBC Trust are going to have to fall on their swords."
Mr Thompson yesterday claimed he 'never heard any allegations' against late British television presenter Jimmy Savile until after he left BBC
But reporter Caroline Hawley today said she thought she had told him of the 'broad context' of the BBC's Newsnight investigation about Savile
New York Times public editor Margaret Sullivan questions 'How likely is it that Thompson knew nothing?'
By Graham Smith
A senior executive at the New York Times has broken ranks to suggest former BBC chief Mark Thompson is not fit to be her new boss in the wake of a paedophile scandal which has rocked the corporation to its core.
In an extraordinary intervention, Margaret Sullivan questioned the integrity and ability of the man who was director general when a report that would have exposed Jimmy Savile as a predator who targeted young, vulnerable girls, was axed.
Writing in a blog post yesterday, the public editor, who works on behalf of readers and writes about the newspaper itself said: 'How likely is it that [Thompson] knew nothing?'
'His integrity and decision-making are bound to affect The New York Times and its journalism - profoundly. It's worth considering now whether he is the right person for the job, given this turn of events.' Incoming New York Times chief executive Mark Thompson has denied having any knowledge of a BBC programme's investigation into alleged sexual abuse by television host Jimmy Savile More than 200 victims have claimed they were sexually abused by Jimmy Savile
Drawn in: Incoming New York Times chief executive Mark Thompson (left) has denied having any knowledge of a BBC programme's investigation into alleged sexual abuse by television host Jimmy Savile (right)
It has been Mr Thompson's assertion that he knew nothing about the allegations against the late presenter until last month after he had left the BBC.
But his statement was today questioned by one of the corporation's respected foreign correspondents Caroline Hawley.
WELCOME TO NEW YORK: NY TIMES BLOG THAT DARED TO QUESTION THOMPSON'S APPOINTMENT
Public Editor Margaret Sullivan wrote in her blog:
'How likely is it that he knew nothing? A director general of a giant media company is something like a newspaper’s publisher... publishers usually don’t know about editorial decisions — unless they are very big ones, fraught with legal implications.
'His integrity and decision-making are bound to affect The Times and its journalism — profoundly. It’s worth considering now whether he is the right person for the job, given this turn of events.
'The Times might start by publishing an in-depth interview with Mr. Thompson exploring what exactly he knew, and when, about what happened at the BBC.
'What are the implications of these problems for him as incoming Times chief executive? What are the implications for the Times Company to have its new C.E.O. – who needs to deal with many tough business challenges here – arriving with so much unwanted baggage?'
She said she believed she told Mr Thompson, who is due to take up his post at the New York Times next month, about the 'broad context' of the investigation into Savile, who died last year at the age of 84,
Ms Hawley said she voiced her concerns about the cancellation of the report, which would have aired on the BBC's flagship current affairs show Newsnight, at a Christmas drinks party last year.
The investigation had been scheduled to run in November - but was pulled at the last minute.
She told The Times in London: 'I think I must have mentioned the broad context of the investigation but genuinely don’t remember the words I used.'
Mr Thompson, director general at the BBC from 2004 until September, said he only learned about the planned documentary at the party Ms Hawley told him: 'You must be worried about the Newsnight investigation.'
He said he did not ask for any more details, but made informal enquiries from BBC News the next day and was told that the programme had been dropped for 'journalistic reasons'.
The 55-year-old added that he did not ask what allegations against Savile were being investigated, and only found out about them almost a year later after he had stood down from the BBC.
Mr Thompson's spokesman yesterday told The Times: 'The clue to the strength of your story may be [Ms Hawley's] words "I think".'
He also issued a statement saying there were 'no inconsistencies' between his recollection of the conversation and a statement Ms Hawley has given to a BBC review into the decision to cancel the Newsnight programme.
Scandal engulfed the BBC earlier this month after a rival broadcaster ITV aired a documentary which accused Savile of being a paedophile who had abused hundreds of young victims in hospitals, schools and even on the corporation's premises.
But even as the documentary went out, it emerged that Newsnight had carried out its own investigation - including an interview with the same victim - nearly a year before.
A team spent six weeks investigating allegations that the presenter abused pupils at a school in Surrey, south-east England, speaking to at least four women who claimed they had been assaulted or knew about events at the school.
The report was shelved at the last minute at the request of the programme's editor Peter Rippon.
It was not until this week that the BBC aired its own investigation into the scandal, put together by documentary strand Panorama.
The show covered both Savile's crimes and the corporation's reaction. In the wake of broadcast, Peter Rippon stood aside from his Newsnight role after the BBC said his explanation for shelving the story had been 'inaccurate or incomplete'.
On Wednesday, new director general George Entwistle was grilled by MPs in parliament. He denied the the broadcaster helped cover up allegations that Savile preyed on women.
The BBC has now launched two inquiries into the affair; one will address Savile's actions and how he went undetected during his six decade career and a second which will examine why the Newsnight report was pulled.
Meanwhile pressure grew on his predecessor Mr Thompson, who left his £622,000 post at the BBC earlier this year.
The New York Times tapped Mr Thompson in August as CEO - a role that had been vacant for eight months after the company ousted its former CEO Janet Robinson last year. It is understood that he will take up his post at the New York Times on November 12.
He received a $3million (£1.8m) 'sign-on bonus' and is set to receive a $1million (£620,000) annual salary, with a potential $1million bonus. He also stands to be paid a further $3million bonus, paid over three years, for meeting 'long-term objectives'.
One Wall Street analyst called for the paper to delay Mr Thompson taking over the company, adding more pressure on executives to address the matter on the company's earnings conference call tomorrow.
'The New York Times should delay [Thompson's] start date until there is more clarity,' said Doug Arthur, an analyst with Evercore Partners who follows the New York Times.
'It seems to me he will have to attend a hearing in the UK parliament. That is going to be a distraction. It's unfortunate. It's an unexpected complication.'
Mrs Sullivan declined to comment further on her blog as did the New York Times.
As public editor and a representative of readers, she writes about issues affecting the newspaper independent from News York Times management, including chairman and publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr and executive editor Jill Abramson.
Since stepping into the role in September, Mrs Sullivan has already made waves including a post that criticised the paper's decision not to publish on the front page a story about a congressional hearing into attacks on a U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, last month in which four Americans were killed.
Amid the many questions of detail raised by the Jimmy Savile scandal – who knew what and when, who leaned on whom? – there’s a danger of losing sight of the two central charges against the BBC.
So let the Mail restate them plainly.
The first is that for decades, the corporation clasped to its bosom one of the most prolific serial child abusers in criminal history, promoting and protecting him even though many of its staff were aware of his vile activities, while many more had heard rumours about them.
Adding immeasurably to the gravity of this allegation, it must be remembered that the BBC entrusted Savile with presenting children’s programmes such as Jim’ll Fix It, which gave him unfettered access to his prey.
The second charge is that when Newsnight finally investigated the star’s crimes, after his death, the corporation’s bosses sought to cover up the truth.
Suppressing the report on bogus grounds – and failing even to inform police of the evidence it had unearthed – they pressed ahead instead with airing Christmas tributes to Savile, portraying him as a latter-day saint and making no reference to the allegations against him.
Put bluntly, they appear to have believed that protecting the BBC brand, and the reputation of one of its own, was more important than justice for the victims who had been molested and raped in a prevailing climate of sexual depravity.
Indeed, it is hard to imagine more serious accusations against an organisation trusted by millions as the nation’s principle source of news. Yet such were the charges that Director-General George Entwistle was called upon to answer yesterday, when he was summoned to the Commons by the all-party culture and media committee.
His performance was unilluminating, to say the least. Indeed, his ignorance and apparent lack of curiosity were truly astonishing, coming from the head of an organisation that presents itself as the nation’s conscience and a tireless champion of the vulnerable.
Yes, the BBC was examining ‘between five and ten’ serious accusations against past and present staff. But he didn’t know exactly how many, or who was accused (spokesmen later put the number of allegations against current staff and contributors at nine).
And, yes, he was warned that the Newsnight report might have an impact on the planned Boxing Day tribute to Savile. ‘But I don’t remember reflecting on it,’ he said.
On only one matter was he specific. This was when he sought, again and again, to heap all the blame for suppressing the report – and for giving a false account of the reasons why – on Newsnight’s suspended editor, Peter Rippon.
Are we really supposed to believe the decision was taken no higher up, in a corporation renowned for its rigid hierarchy and labyrinthine bureaucracy?
Otherwise, Mr Entwistle sought to fob MPs off with assurances that the BBC’s two internal inquiries would eventually supply the necessary answers.
Really? Imagine the furore from the corporation if it had been left to an internal inquiry by the Army to investigate Bloody Sunday. Or if the voicemail hacking scandal had been dealt with by a panel appointed by Rupert Murdoch.
Are licence-fee payers seriously expected to have confidence that inquiries conducted on the BBC’s own terms, and held behind closed doors, will reveal the full story?
All that is clear so far is that the corporation, from the top down, betrayed many scores of vulnerable children – and then sought to manipulate the facts. Mr Entwistle’s lamentably evasive performance yesterday proves that only a full, public and independent inquiry can be trusted to uncover the truth.
It is almost four months since Lord Patten, the chairman of the BBC Trust, called a press conference to praise the “clear vision” of George Entwistle, the broadcaster’s new director-general.
The appointment looked like a mistake even at the time. I noted on this page that Entwistle was a manifestation of exactly the same phenomenon as his wretched predecessor Mark Thompson: “the thrusting, middle-age, white, male, ultimately meaningless media executive”. Such creatures – as became embarrassingly obvious when Entwistle testified before Parliament on Tuesday – are expert at buck-passing, paper-shuffling, corporate jargon, and the art of bland denial. Conversely, they have no charisma, do not understand leadership, are members of a cloistered, self-perpetuating liberal elite, and ultimately cannot tell the difference between right and wrong.
So let’s ignore the emails and the blame game, and turn our attention to the basic human morality of the BBC’s conduct last Christmas. The broadcaster possessed compelling evidence which indicated that Jimmy Savile was a perverted monster, yet it went out and screened two TV shows celebrating his life anyway. To make matters far worse, the corporation – in the shape of Newsnight editor Peter Rippon – suppressed that evidence on the appalling grounds that “our sources so far are just the women and a second-hand briefing”.
Three very senior BBC executives were in charge during this horrifying moment of corporate cynicism: Mark Thompson, then director-general; George Entwistle, “head of vision” and Thompson’s successor; and Helen Boaden, the head of news. We now know that all of them had been alerted to the existence of allegations against Savile. None of them appears to have done anything about them, or even to have shown much interest. All of them stood idly by while the evidence was suppressed. Not one of them lifted a finger to stop the squalid tribute shows.
Some of what they say – such as the claim that Boaden discussed the affair with Entwistle for less than 10 seconds flat – simply doesn’t make sense. But that doesn’t really matter. Either Thompson, Entwistle and Boaden knew all about the Newsnight allegations, in which case it beggars belief that they allowed the tributes to go out, or they were genuinely clueless – which seems much more likely, but would be equally shocking.
Senior BBC executives don’t come cheap. Between them, the Savile Three earned more than £1 million last year – Thompson £620,000, Entwistle £285,000 and Boaden £350,000. They were paid these very large sums to carry out their duties in an exemplary way. Yet from the accounts we have received so far, they just didn’t want to know. This was literally a case of more money than sense.
More distressing still, however, is the conduct of Lord Patten. The chairman of the BBC Trust seems to lack any understanding of what his post entails. The corporation’s charter is very clear that his job is to invigilate BBC executives such as Thompson, Boaden and Entwistle, representing “the public interest, particularly the interest of licence fee payers”. It also insists that the BBC Trust “must maintain its independence of the Executive Board”. Yet Lord Patten seems to have ignored both these statutory duties.
Instead, over the course of the past few weeks, he has become the spokesman for the BBC’s bankrupt managerial culture. Indeed, it is not going too far to say that he has been institutionally captured. This became horribly clear late on Tuesday night, when he issued his sneering reply after Maria Miller, the Culture Secretary, properly expressed what she said were “very real concerns” about “public trust and confidence in the BBC”.
Lord Patten’s reply – “I know that you will not want to give the impression that you are questioning the independence of the BBC” – was beyond belief. Mrs Miller, as Patten ought to have realised, was not seeking to exercise any improper political influence. She was doing no more than carrying out her constitutional duty and articulating the growing national alarm about the BBC’s arrogant, misleading and immoral handling of the issue.
Patten’s menacing response was an error of judgment, and he owes the Culture Secretary an apology. Unfortunately, it fits a broader trend. In truth, Lord Patten has failed to understand why the Savile story is so sickening ever since September, when Newsnight’s decision to suppress the story became public knowledge. I understand that at the time, the Conservative MP Rob Wilson called the BBC chairman to warn him that he would be putting down questions. Mr Wilson was acting in an honourable and courteous way, yet he found that Lord Patten was off-hand and dismissive. A few days later, the chairman was reportedly heard pronouncing at a drinks party that, “it’s probably good for George to have his first crisis early”, presumably meaning that, in one sense, the scandal could even be welcome.
As is now widely recognised, Lord Patten made a dreadful error in appointing George Entwistle in the first place – something that became mortifyingly obvious during the director-general’s poor performance in Parliament on Tuesday. Indeed, the chairman himself can no longer be regarded as fit for purpose.
I say this with regret, because Lord Patten is a civilised man who has enjoyed a distinguished public career. He was a decent Cabinet minister in the Eighties, and an excellent Tory chairman at the 1992 general election. He can look back on his record as our last ever governor of Hong Kong, during which he boldly stood up against China’s Communist government, with real pride. At his peak, he brought something intelligent and distinctive to our public life, and that can be said of relatively few politicians.
But there comes a moment in all careers when men and women become backward-looking and out of touch. That moment has now come to Chris Patten. And it is important that he goes very soon, because he is doing such damage to an institution that stands for everything that is best about Britain – integrity, fairness, and generosity. Above all, the BBC represents a common sphere of British public life which is not part of the marketplace, and yet not controlled by the state. Alongside Parliament, the NHS, the Army, the monarchy and the rule of law, it is one of our great national institutions.
It is deeply unfortunate that, over the past few decades, the corporation has been colonised and captured by a narrow, greedy, self-interested and self-perpetuating liberal elite, ignorant of ordinary people and contemptuous of ordinary morality – hence, in part, the Savile affair. The unprincipled and arrogant conduct of that elite has provided a great deal of ammunition to the broadcaster’s enemies, such as the Murdoch press, and thus placed the BBC’s future in jeopardy.
It is time for those of us who love the BBC, and all it represents to stand up and fight. As chairman of the BBC Trust, it should have been Lord Patten’s task to safeguard the great tradition of integrity and decency which Lord Reith, the original director-general, bequeathed to the nation. Instead, he has become the public apologist for Britain’s sharp-suited, amoral and overpaid media class. For the sake of a great institution, he must step down – now.
As for almost everyone who grew up in the 1970s, BBC children’s television took hold of me and never quite let go. For hours every week, I lived in a safe and cosy world with my friends, Lesley Judd and John Craven, Peter Purves, Noel Edmonds – and Jimmy Savile.
The horror of this scandal is not only what Savile did to dozens, or hundreds, of trusting children. In a much smaller way, he – and the people who let him do it – have violated the childhoods of millions.
I can never think of my after-school viewing in quite the same way again. I now know that unimpeachable as those first four presenters may have been, the late Sir Jimmy was not my friend; that behind all the bonhomie and security, which I rushed home to join, lay the curved corridors of BBC Television Centre, with terrible things going on in the dressing rooms.
For me, as a survivor of a previous BBC crisis, recent attempts to draw up a league table of Beeb scandals seem slightly silly – but there’s a case for saying that this is indeed one of the worst. In the Hutton affair, the public was on our side and the BBC was broadly in the right. Few now doubt, as I claimed on the Today show, that the famous dossier was sexed up.
With Savile, however, the picture looks bleaker. For him, and perhaps for some other stars as yet unnamed, we now realise that the BBC wasn’t just a broadcaster for children. It was, however unwittingly, a sexual procurer of children. The BBC created Savile. It gave him the platform and the stardom that drew in the young, which persuaded parents, or those in loco parentis, to entrust him with their sons and daughters. It appears to have known or suspected what he was doing, and turned a blind eye, for four decades.
Yet these were the failings of an earlier BBC, its leaders now retired or dead. The even more extraordinary question is why the corporation’s current top team chose to join itself to the cover-ups of the past – first by cancelling an investigation into Savile, and then by misleading us as to why it was scrapped.
Here, perhaps, my Hutton experience can help. The mess is down, I think, to the almost limitless capacity for self-harm of the BBC’s own management. Individually, BBC managers are intelligent, rational, fair and far-sighted. Collectively, they are foolish, panicky, unjust and inept.
Strategically, BBC managers are rather successful. I know no other British state institution that has adapted so well to changing times. Tactically, in any crisis, they are all over the place.
The standard rule in a media storm is to put one person in charge and to establish the facts quickly. The standard BBC rule is to put nobody in charge and to find someone other than senior management to take all the blame. An internal inquiry into the Hutton fiasco concluded that I, the most junior person involved, was wholly responsible. I did wonder why, if that was genuinely the case, the BBC’s management had ever come to my defence in the first place. The fact was, we were all responsible.
And now everyone, from the director-general, George Entwistle, on down is dumping on the editor of Newsnight, Peter Rippon, for what, we’re told, was his sole decision to drop the Savile report. He’s already become a BBC unperson, his name removed from the Newsnight credits.
But blaming it all on Rippon is simply not plausible. His team’s film was strong. They had been working on it for weeks; there were no legal risks. Yet within days, Rippon performed a 180-degree turn – from eager enthusiasm to curt dismissal – for reasons that seemed flimsy, even before they were shown to be untrue. It is hard to imagine that his superiors played no part in this process – but proving it will be another matter.
The thing about Rippon is that he almost certainly wasn’t in charge. At ITN, or Sky, or any newspaper, there’s a clear chain of command. The buck really does stop with the editor. But the editor of any BBC programme has the stale breath of at least five different bosses over his shoulder. That helps all those bosses, of course, avoid the blame when there’s a crisis. But it also makes for the kind of terrible, unfocused decision-making that causes crises in the first place.
In Savilegate, there probably wasn’t a smoking email with some top boss ordering the story off air – instead, there will have been conversations in corridors between Peter and Helen, or Helen and Steve, or George and Mark. And it is, in fact, possible that in the swirl of those conversations, and the other issues they were all dealing with, that neither Steve, Helen, George nor Mark really thought it through, that they never really considered how a cancellation would be seen when the story, inevitably, broke. And once it did, their priority was to defend the bad decision, rather than to examine whether it was the right one.
The other thing about BBC management is that, a little like officers in the Tsarist Russian army, they have almost no contact with the grunts who do the actual work. Newsnight reporters knew all along how a cancellation would be seen – and made strenuous efforts to warn their bosses – but as we learnt from Mr Entwistle on Wednesday, he doesn’t believe it’s “always appropriate” to “talk to people on the shop floor”.
That alone, I think, raises serious questions about George Entwistle’s suitability to run anything. As the Panorama special on Savile showed, some of the BBC’s reporters are lions. But they really are led by donkeys.
Ring, ring, goes the telephone, every hour that God sends. And it’s always some producer from the BBC, ringing me up to ask me on to some programme to stick the boot in to the BBC. Newsnight, The World at One, This Week, BBC Good Morning Biddulph, BBC Top o’The Mornin’ Paddy. It is not enough that they should, like nematode worms which stab themselves to death with their own penises, -simply attack the BBC themselves; they want multitudes of other people to do it, too. ‘Tell me, just how useless is the BBC, and in particular its senior executives? Could they be more useless if they tried?’ This is evidence, if the BBC’s senior managers are to be believed, of the corporation’s honest and open approach to its own affairs.
Yes, up to a point, so it is. That’s in there somewhere, along with schadenfreude at the plight of other bits of the BBC and internecine rivalry, and perhaps also a weird self-flagellating tendency that often grips the corporation, unsure as it is of why it still exists. But also, this openness, this candour, is a measure of the contempt in which the boss class of the BBC are held by the thousands of minions below. Rightly, in many cases, I should add. And so, as this ghastly Savile business unfolds, the little BBC programmes — the fiefdoms, the satrapies of the corporation — have gone for it with an excitation, hyperbole and overkill which almost matches the excitation, hyperbole and overkill of their phone-hacking coverage. Meanwhile, the director-general (at time of writing, check your local bookmaker for odds), George Entwistle, squirms before a House of Commons select committee — appearing not to have been briefed on anything except for maybe his own name — and clings to his decision to allow Panorama to stick the boot into Newsnight (they need little encouragement, by the way) as evidence that the BBC is honest, and its journalism impartial and to be trusted. Clings like a spider clings to the side of a bath as the water rises beneath it.
The Panorama programme in question examined the reasons why Newsnight did not run an investigation into Jimmy Savile’s paedophilic tendencies, and did so with a certain glee and chutzpah. It was, as Entwistle proudly maintained, a good programme — but something was missing from it. -Entwistle. He refused to be interviewed — and so did all the other very highly paid bureaucrats who are one way or another involved in this story. Call me a cynic, but I think they have something to hide. I did not think so when this story first broke, but with every subsequent twist and turn it becomes more probable that, towards the end of last year, they got themselves involved in the issue. It seems to me, on balance of probability, highly likely that something was brought to bear on the Newsnight editor, Peter Rippon — if not pressure, then a certain pressing concern.
Let’s examine the facts. The Newsnight team of Meirion Jones and Liz MacKean set to work on a story exposing Jimmy Savile’s paedophilia — of this there is not much doubt. Initially, Rippon implied that the original brief for the story had been about the Crown Prosecution Service’s own investigation into Savile and its eventual failure. But this was never the case, as agreed now by pretty much everyone, including Rippon. When he was first presented with the film, Rippon reportedly told the team: ‘Excellent. We can then pull together the TX’ (i.e., get it ready to be broadcast). At the same time he told the publicity office that there would be a ‘huge amount of interest’ in the film.
That was on 25 November; by 30 November, though, he was having grave doubts. Now he wanted the film to pursue the suggestion that the CPS and Surrey Police had somehow let Savile’s victims down by not prosecuting the albino pervert. By 1 December, he had told the team to stop working on the project, much to their chagrin. By 9 December, it was officially axed.
‘Me too. I thought coming as Jimmy Savile would be a really funny and original idea.’
Now, this could be all well and good. Editors often pull stories because they have perfectly reasonable worries about the strength of the material, and we should take with a pinch of salt the complaints of Jones and MacKean that their story was an absolute stonker etc; this is what investigative journalists always say. It might be that, having first heard the outline of the piece, -Rippon was very interested (‘terrific’) but, after he had looked at it in more depth, he felt worried about the allegations being made, and tried the softer option of getting his team to kick the police instead. That would be plausible. Newsnight — and the BBC in general — is not terribly good at investigative journalism because its public service remit forces it to be far more circumspect than, for example, the newspapers. So it is possible that Rippon simply thought better of it, that it was too big a risk to take — that the police had failed in their investigations to nail Savile, and no newspapers had ever published allegations, so best leave well alone. That might have been the wrong decision — and indeed Entwistle has since said that it was. (Useful thing, hindsight, huh, George?) But hardly a catastrophe for the BBC, merely another example of its habitual journalistic caution. No question of conflicting interests, no pressure brought to bear, just one editor making a considered decision by himself. No crisis.
So that’s a possibility. But it seems to me, after all that has come out in the past few days, a vanishingly small possibility. Because both Jones and MacKean are adamant — now, as then — that their editor confessed to the fact that managers above him in the long and lucrative BBC food chain were involved and were concerned. For example, Jones remembers Rippon telling him, during an argument over the fate of the film, that ‘the bosses aren’t happy’. Now, maybe Jones has misremembered. But in that case, there is the email that was sent from MacKean to a friend on or about 30 November — just as Rippon was completing his inelegant volte face — where she says Rippon had told her: ‘Internally, Liz, this is a very long political chain.’ That seems to me a bit of a clincher, frankly — and all the more so because Panorama had access to that email but were prohibited from using it by the BBC, reportedly: it has only emerged since.
Rippon has been hung out to dry, poor bloke — by both the top brass at the BBC, including the director-general, and indeed by members of his own team. It was not pleasant watching him being stitched up by Jones on Panorama — no matter how miffed Jones was that his film didn’t go out, or how wedded to the unvarnished truth and so on, his readiness to knife his boss suggested to me a longer-held animus (which I have since had corroborated from within the show). If Rippon had made the decision entirely by himself, then to a certain extent he deserves a degree of censure for not having run the piece, although not on the scale of losing his job. But, as I say, that possibility seems to me so small as to scarcely exist. How do we explain away the MacKean email? Someone, I would suggest, had expressed their concern and had pointed out to Rippon that the BBC was scheduling a bunch of tributes to Savile over Christmas. And that, I reckon, was that.
In which case, Rippon’s primary mistake was telling any of the top brass what his programme was up to in the first place. Never, ever refer stuff up in the BBC — someone, somewhere, will find a reason to stop you doing whatever you’re doing, because at executive level the main concern is not to frighten the horses. Even if they are really horrible horses. What you do is this: you leave the horses well alone. Let the press frighten the horses, and then do a follow-up on how frightened the horses have become as a consequence of the press.
And yet I will bet that the upshot of all this will be the imposition of structures to make the mediocre BBC top brass more involved with controversial stories, rather than less. And that will mean that in future, stories such as the Jimmy Savile exposé will stand even less chance of being seen.
For the record BBC doesn’t stand for Breast Beating Contrition. It does however stand for Breast Beating Conmen
Just imagine if it would have been Sky that nurtured and enabled the scum Savile for so many years, while at best ‘averting their gaze – wink, wink nod nod’.
And if would have been Sky that cancelled a report that would have drawn attention to this scandal, and highlighted their internal twisted culture that allows this kind of thing to go on.
I wonder what sort of questions the BBC would be asking at every available slot, and what sort of focus they would be trying to attain?
Maybe Ron Liddle thinks the BBC should just get on with ‘business as usual’. They certainly don’t fool me with their attempt to make themselves appear truly repentant, open and honest, especially using it as a diversionary tactic that fails to focus on or reveal just where this internal culture has altered in any way – and what led to that change.
They can’t – because it hasn’t!
In just the same way as Thompson admitting a ‘massive left-wing bias’ at the BBC 30 years ago, but avoiding saying just where and how was this addressed – because it wasn’t.
Rotten to the core and needs to be cast out. Anybody who really believes that what the BBC is doing right now is falling on their sword is delusional, or just taken in by their act following getting caught out.
A TERRIFIED teenage girl was molested on camera by Jimmy Savile during Top Of The Pops — then told to “get lost” by a BBC boss when she complained. A video clip has preserved the shocking moment when the laughing pervert put his hand up horrified Sylvia Edwards’ skirt — as 20 million viewers watched the live show. Blonde Sylvia, then 19, can be seen shrieking and struggling to escape while creepy Savile smirks: “I tell you something, a fella could get used to this, as it ’appens, he really could get used to it.” Speaking for the first time about the ordeal, Sylvia told The Sun: “I felt his fingers go towards my bottom. It was disgusting.” Afterwards she ran straight to a BBC floor manager and told him what Savile had done. To her horror, he said: “Get lost — it’s just Jimmy messing about.” The assault at BBC TV Centre in West London on November 25, 1976, left Sylvia with mental scars — and is the first video evidence of Savile’s sex abuse.
She had been excited to be among a group of girls hand-picked to sit next to the DJ as he introduced artists. Elton John performed his ballad Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word. Then Savile, 50 at the time, began introducing the chart-topping If You Leave Me Now, by Chicago. As he did so, Sylvia felt Savile’s bejewelled fingers wandering. The 55-year-old mum of two recalled: “Jimmy Savile appeared in the middle of us and the camera panned around. “Then I felt his hand go up my skirt. I leapt off my chair in shock. I was so surprised I cried out and didn’t know how to deal with it. “But he just laughed and carried on mauling me while talking to the camera. I panicked and tried to move away from him but it was so crowded I couldn’t escape. When I tried to sit down his hand was still there and went for my bottom again. “I felt so embarrassed and ashamed because it was live on TV and all my friends and family were watching. “The worst thing was that he was so casual when he did it. He was committing a sexual assault live on the BBC and no one gave a damn.” Sylvia went to seek help but was given short shrift. She said: “There was a man standing next to a camera with headphones on who seemed to be running the show, so I went up to him and told him Jimmy Savile had just put his hand up my skirt. “But he was very cross and told me to get lost. He said it was just Jimmy messing about and I was being stupid. “Then he said he was busy and moved me out of the way because I was blocking a camera shot “I was a naive girl then — I’d never slept with anyone — and was shocked. I didn’t know where to go or who to speak to after getting rejected like that. “I tried to shut it out of my mind as best as I could. But looking back, I wish I’d had the courage to take my complaint further. “The evidence on the video is clear, and if I could have got him convicted, I might have saved other young people from much worse. “But I have to stop blaming myself because, at the end of the day, he did that to me on live TV and they let him. How could the BBC’s bosses ever say they didn’t know what was going on?” Sylvia, then a trainee hairdresser, went with a workmate called Lynn to see the broadcast. But she never went again, fearing she could fall into Savile’s clutches once more. The experience made her fear men and could never bring herself to sleep with a boy she was dating. She also partly blames her upsetting memories for the break-up of her marriage nine years ago. But now she plans to join more than 300 victims of the Jim’ll Fix It star who have so far complained to police. It emerged yesterday that cops blew seven chances to nail Savile before he died last October aged 84. They dropped abuse investigations in London, Surrey and Jersey. Sylvia, of Twickenham, South West London, added: “What he did to me was minor compared to some. But it affects me to this day. “I have never felt comfortable about being touched. All these years I’ve never said anything because I thought no one would listen after what the BBC man said. “You can hear Savile on the video saying, ‘A fella could get used to this’. The tragedy for his victims is, that’s just what he did.” Weekly chat with nine cops SAVILE held weekly breakfast meetings with top cops at his Leeds penthouse in the years some alleged victims called police, a source claims. Up to nine officers attended his “Friday Morning Club” for 20 years until shortly before his death. There is no suggestion they knew of his abuse.
Clearly the cameraman pans in for a close-up on Savile, thus removing the girl from the frame when realising what Savile's doing to her.
And to think people are forced to pay for these degenerates. Shows why our society is going down the toilet.
Piece of news about former BBC Director General Thompson's further involvement in this scandal. Two different sources claim to have alerted him to claims of child abuse involving Savile, but Thompson denies getting them.
So we are to believe that a scandal involving the BBC of this magnitude, and the likely ramifications were not conveyed to the hierarchy. Even if it were true, Thompson awarded himself an annual salary of £670k, but apparently did not have assistants intelligent enough to understand the importance of these alerts to have notified him.
Either way, it shows the complete lack of qualities to justify its continuance.
BBC reporter John Simpson writes in the Spectator to the effect that the BBC might not be perfect, but because of the recent Panorama programme highlighting Savile's abuse, and the 'breast-beating' that it is been engaged in ever since, all should be forgiven.
Here's my comment posted below his article
The BBC really want us to believe that all they had to do was run that Panorama programme (double length even) and everything would be forgiven, and they can get back to bias as usual.
I'll tell you what Simpson, watch this video of Savile groping a nearby girl on Top of the Pops - and notice how the cameraman goes in for a close up just of Savile when he realises what this sick pervert is doing to her.
That typifies what the BBC has been doing all these years, including cancelling the Newsnight report, so as to avoid showing just how rotten and corrupt they would be perceived. Panorama didn't focus on this aspect of the BBC, now did it?
But you had no problem going after Murdoch for phone-hacking, a far lesser crime, or to bring up child abuse every time you run a story about the Catholic Church, even during the Papal visit last year.
But you'd dearly like to think this scandal is all behind you now wouldn't you? I know that for what the BBC is supposed to represent, this is only the tip of the iceberg of your internal corruption
What should happen now? If you work for the BBC, you dislike seeing the outfit’s name in the headlines. It usually means the BBC is in trouble. No good complaining that much of the British press (to the bewilderment of people outside the country) have it in for the BBC, big time. Nor is it any good pointing out that there are a few politicians with an intense longing to dismantle the BBC altogether. These are facts of corporation life, and always have been.
Its top executives have to ensure it doesn’t provide its existential critics, tiny in number but always noisy and weirdly angry, with ammunition. This time the BBC has handed them a veritable ammunition dump. Having worked for the organisation for 46 years, and watched a number of crises at close range, I’m certain we haven’t endured a storm as bad as this during that time.
Harold Wilson forced out Sir Hugh Greene on the grounds that his programmes were undermining British society. Margaret Thatcher came close to accusing the BBC of treason over the Falklands and the IRA, but was canny enough to go no further. Norman Tebbit claimed it had lied about the American bombing of Libya in 1986, and came badly short. Alastair Campbell went berserk at 6.07 one morning as he listened to the Today programme, and forced Tony Blair to set up a judicial inquiry. It did huge damage to their reputations, and to that of Lord Hutton, who carried it out. In every case, public opinion rallied solidly around the BBC.
This crisis is different. No government is attacking the BBC; the problem is our own behaviour, past and present, and paedophilia, of all the crimes in modern society, regarded as the evil of evils. For the BBC to have employed one of the worst sleazebags of modern times and not protected children from him is, with hindsight, disgraceful.
But George Entwistle, the director-general who took over in September to great plaudits, never had the slightest responsibility for Jimmy Savile; he probably never met him. The same goes for Helen Boaden, the best and most forthright head of news and current affairs I have observed. The same with Peter Rippon, hitherto a remarkably successful editor of Newsnight, who has now been forced to stand aside for dumping Newsnight’s exposé of Savile. All now seem to be in the firing-line.
I did meet Savile in my early years as a sub-editor, taking him the occasional bulletin to broadcast. Even then I thought he was creepy and unpleasant. In fact I never met anyone in the BBC who didn’t; and I imagine they, like me, speculated privately about his sexual orientation. Well, now we know. Should the BBC have sacked one of its most popular stars on mere suspicion? Without a precise accusation, it would have been impossible. Being creepy is not a sackable offence.
Has the BBC tried to hush it up? As far as I can tell, its worst crime has been to wish the whole affair would go away. But that isn’t an adequate strategy when the public is appalled about a man who only a year ago it regarded as a saint.
So what should the BBC do? For a start, it’s got to be entirely honest, whatever the consequences. On the outbreak of war in 1939 Boaden’s predecessor as head of news, R.T. Clarke, told his staff, ‘The only way to strengthen the morale of the people whose morale is worth strengthening is to tell them the truth, even if the truth is horrible.’
Now the horrible truths are about ourselves. Monday’s Panorama, double its usual length, was a good start: rigorously independent, meticulous, a programme to be proud of. Imagine a British newspaper investigating, say, its own phone-hacking habits!
Of course, the BBC made a fearful mistake in not broadcasting the Savile exposé at the end of last year. There has been muddle, delay, awkwardness, miscalculation. But is it worse than that? Or is it simply that, since the ghastly Savile himself is beyond human justice, the lynch-mob mentality demands that someone else must pay? Broadcasting a hagiography to Savile last December, instead of Newsnight’s exposé, bears no comparison with what Savile did to kids in BBC dressing-rooms.
Eight years ago, in a panic reaction to the Hutton inquiry’s findings, Greg Dyke was forced to resign as director-general. It was a huge mistake. I speak for a lot of people within the BBC, and probably outside it too, who feel this mustn’t happen again. We should find out what really happened in an atmosphere of calm and reflection, not thrash around looking for a scapegoat to punish for Savile’s crimes. And above all, the BBC’s top figures mustn’t be stampeded into hasty resignation.
BBC Trust chairman Lord Patten tries desperately to keep inquiries into the Jimmy Savile sex scandal in-house.
He writes an article for the Mail on Sunday headlined: ‘Can it really be that no one inside the smug BBC knew what that criminal psychopath was doing?’
Good question — but it’s hardly the focus of the BBC’s two, pussyfooting inquiries.
The first is to ‘look into all aspects’ of why the BBC dropped a Newsnight exposé about Savile’s paedophile activities due to air before their treacly, two-part tribute to the former disc jockey. The second is into ‘the culture and practices’ of the BBC while he worked there.
What’s the worst the inquiry can conclude about the cancelled Newsnight report? That it should have been transmitted? Big deal. The Newsnight editor, Peter Rippon, has already ‘stepped aside’. The subsequent Panorama programme more than made up for Newsnight’s unshown documentary.
As for ‘the culture and practices’ of the Savile-era BBC, the inquiry is almost certain to conclude they were more lax than now. Remember the back-to-the-70s TV series, Life On Mars? But it still wasn’t legal to have sex with underage girls then, not to mention on BBC premises.
Savile’s camper van, equipped with a double bed, was often seen parked outside the BBC’s Shepherd’s Bush HQ in the Seventies. Local police were informed he had molested a young girl in the vehicle, but they reportedly took no action other than to warn the TV star to stay away from children.
Patten boasts of having appointed Dinah Rose QC ‘to advise the BBC on its sexual harassment policies and practices’ — as if compliance rules are all we require to prevent famous broadcasters from abusing anonymous, star-struck young women.
Finally, Patten says the BBC chose to press for full co-operation with the police. (Could they have chosen otherwise?) But Savile was the subject of at least seven police investigations in his lifetime, all of them fruitless.
He enjoyed a close relationship with police in his native Yorkshire. Some officers called their regular visits to his Leeds home the Friday Morning Club. The police have almost as many questions to answer over Savile as the BBC.
Patten assures us in his I’m-fully-in-charge article: ‘The independent inquiries are not smokescreens behind which we can hide. The BBC must tell the truth and face up to the truth about itself, however terrible.’
On the contrary. The inquiries are immaterial or too vague. We are entitled to suspect they are smokescreens, and that the BBC will never face up to the truth about itself and Jimmy Savile. If it did, might that open up the institution and some of its distinguished bosses, and ex-bosses, to criminal and/or civil prosecution?
The Government is nervous about the BBC clearing up its own mess. But why does the Prime Minister resist an independent inquiry? Perhaps because he chose Patten to head the BBC Trust. (Was he recommended by the PM’s chief of staff, Ed Llewellyn, who worked for Patten in Hong Kong and Brussels?)
If David Cameron announces his own, judge-led inquiry now — as he did into ‘phone hacking’ — Patten might see it as a rebuke and resign, an embarrassment for the PM. But if Labour leader Ed Miliband presses for a proper inquiry, Cameron could look complicit in a Corporation cover-up, which might be more embarrassing.
The question posed in the headline over Patten’s article would be an excellent starting point for any independent inquiry. Can any BBC director-general over the past 40 years have been unaware of the sulphurous rumours?
The last director-general when Savile was alive, Mark Thompson — now about to start a £4 million-a-year job in New York — has admitted he’d heard Newsnight’s exposé was about sex abuse, having first denied it.
But he hasn’t explained why he did nothing about it.
A YouGov poll for The Sunday Times found that 48 per cent believe Thompson hasn’t been honest about this matter. The poll also found that a vast majority think the BBC knew about the Savile allegations and has handled the affair badly, and consider the inquiries announced to be inadequate.
But indignation over this and other stories only lasts so long. Other outrages come along. Patten has thrown down the gauntlet. Will Cameron pick it up, or does he think he has better things to do?
I think Peter Mckay has missed perhaps one of the most important factors in this scandal, pertinent to the BBC at this time. When it hit the news about the Newsnight report being dropped, first Entwistle, then Patten both affirmed that it had been dropped because of editorial reasons. When subsequently facts began to emerge that this might not be the case, they still both repeated their initial stance, and stated that any inquiry would not be necessary.
It wasn't until the government began to get involved that they backtracked, and began a 'holier than thou' crusade for the truth.
Do you really not see a problem here.? Patten was willing to cover-up for the BBC regardless of what might be the truth. Ether he knew the facts, as I believe, and was lying to protect his charge, which is reprehensible considering what it revealed. Or else he didn't take his position seriously enough to investigate himself before declaring a clean bill of health.
I've read recently that quite a few people at the NY Times, where Mark Thompson is soon due to begin his new job as CEO, are not happy about it in light of the Savile scandal. They find it unlikely that a man who held the position he did, should be unaware of what was going on, especially something of this magnitude.
Regardless of whether the NY Times keeps him, I'm glad that he knows there's dissent within, and there will be those who don't regard him with any kind of awe or welcome.
Though the BBC themselves are now avoiding the topic, unlike when they were pursuing Murdoch over the phone hacking scandal, clearly as news about the findings of the upcoming inquiry starts emerging, their complicity will hopefully be identified.
Ruth Edwards at the Telegraph has her view about Thompson keeping his job at the NY Times. I hope she's correct.
When I heard that Mark Thompson, Chief Executive and editor-in-chief of the BBC, had scooped a nice retirement job as CEO of The New York Times, I was baffled. Surely the sorely pressed NYT, which is in serious financial trouble, needed a hot-shot commercial type, not someone who – apart from two years at Channel 4 – has lived his whole adult life in the BBC at the expense of the British taxpayer.
Thompson rose effortlessly through the mind-and-creativity-numbing bureaucracy created by John Birt, and – as an overpaid Director General – showed little inclination for reform. He seemed short on courage. Like the unfortunate George Entwistle, his response to crisis was to pull up the drawbridge, slay the nearest deputy-assistant-scapegoat and fiddle with guidelines. It was on his watch that the failure of management common sense and nerve that had allowed the transmission of the Jonathan Ross/Russell Brand grossness, led to the creation of the Interactive Advice and Compliance Unit, which requires even Songs of Praise producers to fill in extra, idiotic forms.
The main reason Arthur Sulzberger, the NYT chairman, publisher and owner (by reputation a meddler whose job is beyond his competence) gave for recruiting Thompson, was that he had presided over international expansion and strong digital growth, but it’s easy to make a website successful if money is no object. There are those who suspect that what appealed to Sulzberger was the complacency and priggishness that enemies claim is common to both institutions. However, although no one in the US had ever heard of Jimmy Savile, the row about who knew what has crossed the Atlantic and could yet stop Thompson occupying his handsome office in the NYT on November 12.
“Perhaps I cannot fully interpret what the Brits really mean when they invoke Jimmy Savile,” he ended, “beyond guilt and darkness, and when they display a striking tolerance of weird uncles at holiday gatherings, and an ambivalence about the BBC. But I do know that when certain New Yorkers say 'Jimmy Savile', they merely mean that The New York Times is a bumbling and directionless and vulnerable organization.” Ouch!
A good article in The Spectator by Miles Goslett, examines whether the Leveson inquiry had scared other major media to want to pursue the Savile abuse story, and the reasons for the BBC to drop its Newsnight exposee when he first became aware of it, last December.
Here first is his article, followed by my comment to him:
Leveson and Jimmy Savile Did the press inquiry scare newspapers away from a major story? 5 CommentsMiles Goslett 3 November 2012
Last December I received a telephone call concerning Jimmy Savile’s apparent sexual abuse of underage girls in the 1970s. The details I heard were pretty chilling, but the negative reaction when I tried (unsuccessfully) to report the claims in the national press was equally troubling. There is every indication that the Leveson inquiry into press standards was to blame.
My source said that a Newsnight investigation into Savile’s activities had been shelved by the BBC in mysterious circumstances and encouraged me to find out more. I learnt that Newsnight had heard that Savile and two other celebrities, both still alive, had abused many different girls on BBC premises and in the Surrey countryside, when Savile visited an all-girls approved school called Duncroft. Newsnight also discovered that Savile had been questioned over sex crimes by Surrey police in 2007.
The claims had been corroborated several times over by former Duncroft pupils; two had even waived their anonymity to talk in front of the cameras about their experiences. By any standards Newsnight’s investigation was worthy of national attention, but the programme’s editor, Peter Rippon, had killed the story. Why? One theory I heard was that it clashed with tribute programmes to Savile scheduled for Christmas week.
On 21 December the BBC press office confirmed to me that Newsnight had undertaken a Savile investigation. Without commenting on details, they said it had been axed for editorial reasons. With this confirmation, I assumed the story would sail into any newspaper. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Over two weeks I contacted six national news desks. One after another rejected the idea. I consistently suggested that it would not be necessary for anyone to accuse Savile outright of abusing children, simply to report that Newsnight had jettisoned its exposé despite significant-seeming findings, of which I knew quite a bit. Newsnight’s groundwork could then be developed, or perhaps other victims would come forward.
Yet it was futile. Some papers told me that because Savile had been dead less than two months the story was ‘in bad taste’, whatever its provenance. Others said that if the police hadn’t prosecuted Savile in his lifetime, it wouldn’t be worth pursuing him now. And a couple of news desks judged that material like this was ‘best avoided’ for the time being.
I assumed that they were referring to the time of year — Christmas — but it was the seventh and final paper I contacted that gave what I now believe to be the real reason I was dismissed by all seven. The senior executive I spoke to admitted that because his editor was about to appear in front of Lord Leveson’s inquiry into press ethics, then at its height, it would be unwise to run the piece. Being seen to be behaving responsibly was vital if the press was to avoid statutory regulation. Running a provocative story about Savile, then still considered a saintlike figure, might therefore be a mistake.
Having the story rejected by the national press seemed more alarming than the initial call I had taken about Newsnight’s shelved investigation. Here was the deputy editor of a national title telling me that publishing a controversial article would be a bad idea in case it showed his editor and the wider industry in an unflattering light. The story’s public interest was of secondary importance.
As a freelance journalist I was powerless to argue. But as I reflected over Christmas that the BBC tribute programmes praising Savile were being broadcast by the very organisation which had been critically investigating him a few weeks earlier, it was remarkable to me that much of the press was totally uninterested in this fact. A key opportunity for the press to hold the BBC to account — perhaps even to save the corporation from the trouble in which it now finds itself — had been missed.
Last April I made a freedom of information request to the BBC asking for any records of written communications or meetings among four BBC executives, including the then director-general Mark Thompson, concerning the Newsnight investigation and allegations that Savile had molested underage girls on BBC premises in the 1970s.
On 18 May the request was denied so I rang Mr Thompson’s office and told an aide, Jessica Cecil, that I wanted to talk to him about the request and also about claims made to Newsnight that girls were abused on BBC premises by Jimmy Savile in the 1970s. Ms Cecil referred me to the BBC press office. Last week she admitted that she did not pass on the details of my call to Mr Thompson. Instead, she told the BBC director of communications, Paul Mylrea. He did not pass word of my call to Mr Thompson either.
Eventually only ITV was prepared to confront this difficult issue, with a Savile exposé that triggered the current storm. Perhaps in retrospect the conclusion will be drawn that newspapers, lacking in confidence because of the Leveson inquiry, had to wait for someone else to fire the starting gun before they could fully investigate a story whose main ingredients they had known for months.
Several commentators have argued that, just as the BBC failed in its duty to broadcast the results of Newsnight’s six-week inquiry, so some newspapers failed for decades in theirs to investigate rumours about Savile. This criticism may be valid, though it seems Savile’s powerful position and aggressive legal stance whenever challenged were central factors in his escaping justice. The possibility that he blackmailed others also cannot be ruled out. However, with hindsight it seems implausible that newspapers wouldn’t have been interested in this material. So much work had already been done. The Leveson inquiry, and its perceived threat to a bruised industry, prevented at least one national newspaper from reporting a story which its editor may now regret he did not run. If other papers had the same reason, they did not admit it, but I now believe that it must have been the primary factor which held them back.
The irony is that Lord Leveson is focused almost solely on the press, whose commercial fortunes are diminishing all of the time. The BBC, with its guaranteed income of £3.5 -billion a year, has largely avoided this televised inquiry. And yet the BBC, like many newspapers, made use of private detectives, spending £310,000 on them over 230 separate occasions in six years. Perhaps if the BBC had been included fully in the Leveson inquiry, newspapers would have felt differently about reporting on what must rank as the most serious scandal in its history.
With the story rejected by the mainstream press, it was Richard Ingrams, the 75-year-old editor of the Oldie, who felt able to run the piece. He commissioned me without hesitation and the story was published in February.
I'm just looking at the base elements that led to the evolution of Leveson, and wondering if it might be necessary to examine these to see the cause for the media 'not to want to get into Savile and Newsnight. Leveson happened because of an intense amount of pressure mounted by the BBC into the phone hacking scandle. For the BBC it was the excuse to neutralize what would have been a direct threat against their own power from Murdoch. We see time and time again that the BBC will spare no effort or expense to serve its own agenda, which has nothing to do with the purpose it was set up for, or adhering to its charter.
It is clear today that Savile performed his abuse, with the 'tacit consent' of many in the BBC who were aware of his behaviour. It doesn't take an Einstein to realise that if the BBC would have run the Newsnight story about Savile, they were also going to be incriminating themselves. So they chose to shelve it, under the excuse that it was for 'editorial reasons'. As for it conflicting with any tributes to Savile they had scheduled, they could just as easily cancelled those. Difference is one puts the BBC into good light, and the other a negative one.
But for ITV, they would have been happy to let it remain hidden, but since it was revealed what has been their actions? First all the bosses either denied knowledge of it, or reiterated the 'editorial reasons' as the excuse. Even the head of BBC Trust at first parroted this line, and claimed that any further inquiry was unnecessary. Is there really any doubt about what is going on here? Just the fact that Patton himself, without any further 'investigation', just repeats the 'everything is above board' mantra, shows the real intent of the BBC and those who helped try to perpetrate this insidious cover-up under the label of TRUST. Only when MP's got into the fray did they do an about turn, and declare there would be an inquiry.
The investigation of the BBC should now not be about what happened 40 years ago and since with their condescension and enabling, but about how they knowingly tried to present fiction as the truth, because it suited their agenda, with no department within its walls representing the public who are forced to pay for these bloated self-serving propagandists.
Let the rest of the media and government not forget these issues and keep pushing for this cancer within our society to be cut out.The power the BBC has, which yourself Miles, has observed first hand, was able to bring Leveson about, and got away so far with crimes far worse than what Leveson investigates.
Please, for the good of this country, keep hammering away.
Like the typical bullies they are, when they begin to get a dose of what they have been meting out, they begin to cry and complain about how unfair it is.
Interesting when for their own selfish agenda, they pursued Murdoch night and day over the hacking scandal, for which many lost their jobs who had nothing to do with it, the flatulent arrogant BBC were so full of their own self-importance they didn't give a second thought to how much coverage they were giving to it.
By comparison, they really have not had anywhere near the amount of attention drawn to ALL their misdoings over this scandal as they deserve. So the gall involved in this article they run today really shows their public contempt and lack of moral consciousness by having Jonathan Dimbleby declare that it's all become a 'witch-hunt' against them.
Look at the phrases they highlight with inverted commas to see how they brainwash the public.
Broadcaster Jonathan Dimbleby said the attacks on the BBC were "very distressing"
There has been a "disturbing relish" in the way critics have laid into the BBC over the Jimmy Savile sex abuse scandal, Jonathan Dimbleby has said.
The broadcaster told the Times newspaper there has been a "witch-hunt" against the corporation, which had become "horribly out of proportion".
"The real focus should be on what Savile did wrong," Mr Dimbleby said.
It was "very distressing" that people at the BBC were being "hounded" in a way that was "unwarranted", he added.
Presenter Mr Dimbleby, who first worked at the BBC in the late 1960s, said: "Paedophilia is a huge national problem that no-one thought about 50 years ago and is now something that concerns everyone, but this has become a witch-hunt against the BBC.
"Organisations that have come under flak recently such as newspapers and MPs want to get their revenge. They think the BBC is too smug and holier-than-thou.
"But there is a disturbing relish in the way the critics have laid into the BBC, holding today's office-holders to account for what happened 30 years ago," he told the paper.
Other historical allegations of abuse have since come to light in the wake of the Savile allegations.
A victim of child sex abuse in north Wales has told BBC Newsnight that his abusers included a leading Thatcher-era Conservative politician, and called for a new investigation.
On Saturday, the Sun newspaper claimed that actor Leonard Rossiter, who died in 1984, watched an 18-year-old extra in a BBC play being sexually assaulted in a rehearsal room.
The BBC said it could not comment on individual cases, but asked "anyone with allegations of this nature to report them to the BBC's Investigation Unit or the police directly".
"As this has already happened in this case, the BBC will help the police in any way that it can in the course of any investigation," a spokeswoman said.
Police believe former BBC presenter and DJ Savile, who died last year aged 84, could have abused as many as 300 people over a 40-year period.
They have described him as a "predatory sex offender" and are following 400 lines of inquiry.
On Friday, comedian Freddie Starr was released on bail after being arrested on Thursday and questioned twice by police.
Mr Starr, of Warwickshire, 69, was arrested under Operation Yewtree on suspicion of sexual offences and has been bailed until December. He denies claims he groped a girl of 14 while in a BBC dressing room with Savile.
Police say Mr Starr's arrest falls under the strand of the investigation classed as "Savile and others".
On Sunday, ex-pop star Gary Glitter was arrested and bailed after being questioned as part of the inquiry.
Glitter, 68, whose real name is Paul Gadd, was arrested at home and questioned at a London police station before being released on bail until mid-December.
Meanwhile, Savile's estate, the BBC and three other organisations are facing the prospect of legal action.
Liz Dux, from law firm Russell, Jones and Walker, said letters had been sent to the Savile estate, Stoke Mandeville Hospital, Broadmoor, Leeds General Infirmary and the BBC saying 20 clients who claim they were abused by the late presenter are considering legal action.
An independent review into BBC Newsnight's dropping of a programme about the allegations against Savile will report later this month.
Led by ex-Sky News boss Nick Pollard, it will seek to establish whether there were any "failings" in the decision to drop the Newsnight investigation.
I'm trying to get my head around what I believe the BBC are up to with this declaration by Peter Rippon, the 'fall-guy' so far, blamed for cancelling the Newsnight report.
What I find suspicious is that he declares he was furious after his decision to pull the report was leaked. He claims the cancellation was due to the police not having made any formal charges, and that the BBC had spent a lot of money on tributes to Savile.
Why I don't believe it is that there is no mention of the embarrassment that would be have been caused to the BBC for having known of this abuse going on for years with Savile, while at best they 'looked the other way'. I've also never known the amount of money spent, or wasted, to be a reason to stop or make the BBC be concerned about it.
Whether this figure includes Radio1 DJ Liz Kershaw, the presenter who has now been named as the woman that behaved so badly towards a BBC reporter it ended with him taking his life. By 'co-incidence', she herself - along with Sandy Toksvig, had revealed at the beginning when the Savile scandal emerged, that they had been groped by staff at the BBC, but were basically told by superiors to just ignore it.
Ex BBC Director General Mark Thompson has so far denied he heard rumours concerning Savile during his time there, since 1980. A claim that seemed unlikely, and now with this statement from the man that first hired him, a downright lie.
Newly installed in his suite at The New York Times where he is the president and chief executive of the company, Mark Thompson has been straining to put as much of the clear blue water of the Atlantic between himself and Sir Jimmy Savile as possible. The former director general of the BBC professes to have had no knowledge whatsoever of the presenter’s reign of sexual terror and says that he played no part in the decision to halt the Newsnight inquiry into his activities.
When the corporation launched Breakfast Time in the early 1980s, Mike Hollingsworth was one of the programme’s editors, and had Thompson as his assistant. He now tells Mandrake that his former underling’s position beggars belief. “He must be mad denying that he’d heard anything about Saville. We had all heard the rumours. You would have to have been tone deaf not to have heard them,” Hollingsworth tells me at the launch of the Thomas Pink British and Irish Lions collection. “I know that Mark has a strong Catholic faith, but it wasn’t as if this was something that people would whisper about when he came into a room – he is a man of the world. You just have to look at the programming he put out when he took over at Channel 4 to see that he wasn’t in the least bit squeamish when it came to all kinds of discussions about sex.”
Hollingsworth, the former husband of the presenter Anne Diamond, concedes that stories of the kind that swirled around Savile in the 1980s were treated a lot less seriously than they should have been. “People often did joke about it in earlier days, to be honest. Those were less enlightened times. The years passed by, however, and, of course, the stories continued. Thompson went on to take on some important positions in the industry, until, eventually, he became the DG.
“At that point, these stories became his responsibility. It was the time when he should have started asking questions. What I find extraordinary about this affair is that all the conversations that supposedly took place about Savile, and the programmes they were making about him, always seemed to take place at parties, never in offices in a formal way.”
Hollingsworth, who now runs the media agency Venture Artistes, adds that he felt Thompson had done himself no favours by denying all knowledge of Savile. “At the very least, it makes him look as if he had his head in the sand – bad for someone in his position,” he says.
Mr Elstein said two inquiries set up by the corporation in the wake of the revelations were not enough to address failures in its culture and editorial management, and a "far more ambitious agenda" was instead required. In a newspaper article, he said the key issue facing the organisation was not about who was to blame for the scandal but the "basic structure and governance of the corporation", and that "judicious pruning" was needed. Mr Elstein wrote: "The arthritic response of the BBC to the Savile affair has exposed an unnecessarily complex management structure, a confused and confusing governance system, and an urgent need to break up the monolithic news and current affairs department."
In the article he also argued that the corporation's board should be re-structured along the lines of Channel 4, that the BBC should be regulated by Ofcom, and that the role of director-general should be split between chief executive and editor-in-chief.
New director-general George Entwistle and his predecessor Mark Thompson have faced criticism over their handling of the Savile scandal.
Mr Elstein said the last review of the BBC Charter, resulting in the board of governors being abolished and replaced with the BBC Trust, had been "botched".
Writing in The Times, he also called for news and current affairs to be split up and also for a division between radio and television. He added: "We need to reverse the decision to integrate the World Service into the BBC structure. There is even a case for splitting off the BBC News Channel as a separate editorial entity.
"Another radical step would be to divest BBC Production from BBC Broadcast. It has never been clear why the nation's largest creative force should be restricted to supplying just one of the UK's broadcasters. "What needs to be done is essential, and reaches far beyond any possible outcomes from the Pollard and Smith inquiries. Politicians need to understand that those inquiries - however worthwhile in themselves - are only a step in an irresistible direction."
I like the way this is developing, and with the latest attempt by the BBC to redeem itself in the eyes of its usual ignorant public, it might have made itself more of a cropper. Perhaps enough for the government to have a real weapon to end the funding of this monstrosity.
As I wrote on November 3rd, the Newsnight programme ran a piece on a Tory MP being involved in a paedophile ring. After much speculation on the web, and a few journalists careless enough to openly speculate who the villain might be, it turns out the accuser now believes he got it wrong.
The following article identifies what I believe to be the true motive of the BBC in being so willing to run the Tory abuse story following the Savile scandal still being investigated, and just how it's backfired.
I also understand that on Radio4 today, when the BBC covered the story below, it only said that 'a Tory MP denied accusations', leaving the impression that it still might be true.
Savile, a beloved yet quirky TV host who died last year, had long been suspected of inappropriate sexual behavior, even outright child abuse. However, when the BBC's flagship TV news show, Newsnight, tried to tackle the allegations after his death, the segment was mysteriously cancelled.
When another TV channel broke the story this year, the BBC was unable to explain not only how one of its best-known stars could have committed sexual abuse for decades without any reprimand — but also how the attempts of some of its best journalists to investigate led nowhere.
The BBC's attempts to justify the decision to cancel the segment were extremely unconvincing, and even senior management now admit it looked awful. "There are no short cuts," BBC Director General George Entwistle told reporters today. "We have to acknowledge responsibility, apologize to victims, commit ourselves to finding out what happened, and cooperate as closely as possible with the police."
Worse still, just as this scandal began to die down, Newsnight has embroiled itself in a sexual abuse scandal. Last week the show ran a segment that featured allegations that a well-known Conservative British politician had been a part of notorious pedophile network that operated in Wales in the 1970s. The segment didn't name the politician — apparently out of legal fears — but the name of the suspect soon spread online.
On the surface of it, it looked like Newsnight's attempt to remind the British public that they were the most important TV news show in the UK — and unafraid to ask serious questions about the British establishment. However, the show set off a storm of speculation that even British Prime Minister David Cameron had to admit verged on a "witch hunt".
The scandal gained another dimension today when The Guardian announced that the man many had assumed was at the heart of the scandal — former Margaret Thatcher aide Lord (Alistair) McAlpine — was innocent of these and had been the victim of mistaken identity.
The man who accused McAlpine has now apologized for inferring the Lord was involved, and conceded it was a case of mistaken identity. For the BBC, and Newsnight in particular, this was a big chance at redemption. And, rightly or wrongly, it looks like the show was rushed.
It really appears that the BBC blew it.
This might be 9/11 (UK Style) for the BBC I hope so!
Imagine you are an investigative journalist interviewing somebody who claims to have been abused as a child by a high-up figure in government. You try to contain your excitement at the prospect of this scoop and behave in a professional manner.
So you ask questions about where and when this abuse supposedly took place, if the victim knows who committed this abuse, and if so, how they know it was this person.
That’s if you are a professional – concerned about your credentials and making sure you report the truth.
But when. for example, we see BBC coverage of Mid-East incidents where Israel is concerned, any slurs or blame will be accepted and reported without the slightest attempt to justify or verify those claims. If the BBC wants it to be true - it is true.
So as soon as this BBC investigative reporter heard that a senior Tory was involved, so happy and willing was he to run with it, he didn't question just how the victim knew that it really was the person he claimed it was. According to the BBC they even had their lawyers examine the data they had before running the story, and were given the go ahead.
This is the first of concerns that are revealed about BBC recent behaviour.
Now consider that following the flak the BBC has been getting over the Newsnight fiasco over the non-reporting of Savile, they are now about to launch an attack against a senior Tory MP for alleged child abuse. Should the director general make it his business to make sure all the i's have been dotted and t's crossed. Not this one.
I’m reminded of Major Major (Bob Newhart) in Catch 22, who told his assistant not to let anybody into his office when he was in, but only when he left. That way he could avoid making any decisions that might be wrong.
The BBC are so used to looking the other way to avoid seeing the truth when they think it suits their purpose, they can't help themselves. Here's numerous current stories to see the recent developments.
The Chairman of the Culture Select Committee says there is "something fundamentally wrong with the BBC management structure" after allegations of child abuse were aired without the director general being informed.
At present, the BBC is only answerable to itself in deciding its standards and coverage. How does it measure up to what you consider good quality, and impartial and unbiased reporting as required by its charter? All TV viewers in the UK are forced by law to pay for this 'service'. Do you believe that what is received truly 'serves' the society, - or merely increases the problems within it?
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