‘Awful’ Savile allegations: BBC apologises and pledges inquiry

Oct 8, 2012

But Director General George Entwistle says police must complete criminal investigation first

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THE BBC's new director-general has apologised to the many women who claim they were sexually abused as girls by the late Sir Jimmy Savile. He has also promised a full internal inquiry once the police investigation is finished.

George Entwistle told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that he wants "a comprehensive examination of what went on". But only the police can collect forensic evidence and compel former employees to answer questions, so the Metropolitan Police inquiry must take precedence. "It is vital we do nothing that would compromise a criminal examination of events," he said.

The Savile allegations are seen as the first big test of the new DG, who has been in position less than a month. He has been under increasing pressure to launch an internal inquiry, reports The Guardian, with than 40 women and one man reportedly coming forward to accuse the TV and radio star of abusing them. Others have spoken out about a broader BBC culture of harassment in the 1980s.

Prime Minister David Cameron yesterday described the Savile claims as "truly shocking" and said they needed to be “properly investigated” by the corporation.

This morning Entwistle apologised on behalf of the BBC to the women who claim they were abused. They had, he said, gone through something “awful”. He promised to ensure "any outstanding questions are answered properly".

The corporation would look particularly at "the broad question of what was going on and whether anybody around Jimmy Savile knew what was going on", Entwhistle said. There was, he stressed, an "enormous obligation" on staff members who had evidence of Savile's abuse of children to come forward.

However, he sought to make clear that BBC of today has a child protection policy which would "absolutely stop" access for people in Savile's position to under-18s on BBC premises. It was “very important”, he said, that people realise the BBC is managed quite differently today.

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