Does BBC have questions to answer over Savile abuse claims?

Oct 2, 2012

New director general George Entwistle faces a headache as police open probe into allegations of sexual abuse

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THE Metropolitan Police has announced that it is to launch a fresh investigation into the late Sir Jimmy Savile after a woman came forward on Monday and claimed that she had been raped as a teenager by the former BBC DJ and television presenter. She is the third woman to do so.

News of the police probe was swiftly followed by a report in The Times saying that new BBC director general George Entwistle faces being questioned by MPs in the House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee over claims that a Newsnight investigation into Savile’s alleged child abuse was dropped.

Dan Sabbagh demands in The Guardian that Entwistle conduct an inquiry into what people at the BBC knew about Savile's activities in the 1970s, and why they didn't sound the alarm.

Sabbagh says that this morning "an email lands in my inbox, unprompted, in which a man says a former BBC executive told him over dinner that 'it was well known to most at the BBC that Savile had an interest in pretty teenage girls'. A former senior BBC executive rings to ask me one thing: 'Why hasn't the BBC launched an inquiry?'"

Sabbagh concludes by saying that "Entwistle is a new director general" with "nothing to hide. The easy decision is to appoint somebody independent to review the evidence, and co-operate with the police and review procedures."

A one-time colleague of Savile's, the radio DJ Paul Gambaccini, explains to the Daily Mirror how Savile had been 'The Governor' at the BBC and had used his influence there to stifle investigations into his private life.

A further former BBC colleague of Savile's also told the Mirror on condition of anonymity that “everybody knew about [the accusations]. Obviously I have no idea whether or not there was any truth to them. That said, I’m not surprised the claims have come out.”

Ross Clark writes in The Times that fame saved Savile from answering for his alleged claims while he was alive. Clark notes that there seems to have been "an awful lot of under-age sex on the pop scene" in the 1970s "and it has taken a remarkable length of time to bring abusers to book".

He concludes: "The BBC tries to edit out sex offenders when it reruns episodes of Top of the Pops from the 1970s. With Gary Glitter and Jonathan King gone there won’t be much left after the Savile revelations."

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Paul Gambaccini was speaking to ITV's Daybreak, not The Mirror.