'BBC has changed its story' says Cameron as editor steps aside

Oct 22, 2012

PM says BBC must explain why Newsnight dropped its investigation into Savile as editor Rippon 'steps aside'

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DAVID CAMERON has intervened in the row over whether Newsnight canned an investigation into child abuse allegations against Jimmy Savile, accusing the BBC of "effectively changing its story".

The Prime Minister was speaking after the BBC announced Newsnight editor Peter Rippon would "step aside" for the duration of an inquiry into the affair and before a Panorama documentary is broadcast tonight which will investigate Newsnight's behaviour.

At the same time, the BBC admitted that a blog post written by Rippon three weeks ago defending his decision to ditch the Newsnight investigation was "inaccurate or incomplete in some respects". The broadcaster issued a correction pointing out the inaccuracies. These were:

  • It was not true that 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 was inaccurate.

In a statement, the broadcaster 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."

Cameron said the entire nation is appalled by allegations against Savile which "seem to get worse by the day", according to The Times.

"Every organisation that was involved with him – whether the NHS or whether the BBC – needs to get to the bottom of what happened," he said.

"And the developments today are concerning because the BBC has effectively changed its story about why it dropped the Newsnight programme about Jimmy Savile.

"These are serious questions... They need to be answered by these independent reviews that the BBC has established and I am sure that they will be."

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