In Depth

Jimmy Savile report: 'serious failings at BBC'

'Culture of fear' allowed sexual abuses to continue undetected, concludes Dame Janet Smith

A "culture of fear" at the BBC, which still exists today, meant senior managers were not told about the complaints against DJ Jimmy Savile and presenter Stuart Hall, a review has found.

Report author Dame Janet Smith found serious failings allowed Savile and others to sexually abuse nearly a hundred people for decades without detection.

She added that an "atmosphere of fear still exists today in the BBC", possibly because obtaining work at the corporation is "highly competitive and many people no longer have the security on an employment contract".

It must do more to ensure staff are not afraid to speak out about on-air stars, she said.

Addressing journalists at a press conference, Dame Janet said the report made "sorry reading" for the BBC, adding that it "certainly isn't a whitewash".

Savile sexually assaulted 57 females and 15 boys over several decades. Three incidents of rape and attempted rape took place on BBC premises, Dame Janet said, and the youngest victim to whom she had spoken was eight years old at the time of the offence.

Rona Fairhead, the chairman of the BBC Trust, said the corporation had "failed" the victims.

"It turned a blind eye where it should have shone a light and it did not protect those who put their trust in it," she said.

The key findings of the report are as follow:

  • Dame Janet identified 72 people as victims of Savile while he was in some way connected to the BBC, including eight rapes and one attempted rape.
  • Top of the Pops provided Savile with a "picking up" opportunity, with some young girls in the audience at risk of "moral danger".
  • During the years covered by the investigation, there was sexual discrimination and sexual harassment at the BBC.
  • Staff were "more worried about reputation than the safety of children".
  • Some junior members of staff were aware of complaints regarding Savile's conduct but there was no evidence any senior employees were aware of his behaviour.
  • No complaints were made through the BBC's official channels.

In conclusion, Dame Janet wrote: "The delivery of these reports presents an opportunity for the BBC to take steps to ensure that history cannot repeat itself."

In her final verdict – which The Guardian says "may disappoint campaigners for victims" – Dame Janet's "overarching recommendation" was that the corporation carry out a further review and subsequent audit of its current management.

Lesley McLean, a manager at Victim Support independent charity, which has helped many of Savile and Hall's victims, said: "It is deeply disturbing to learn of the many missed opportunities by the BBC to stop Savile and Hall's appalling behaviour. These vulnerable victims could and should have been protected."

Liz Dux, a specialist abuse lawyer at Slater and Gordon Lawyers who represents 168 victims, criticised the fact that the report had no power to compel senior managers to give evidence.

"All the Savile and Hall victims have ever wanted from this report is truth and accountability. Despite millions having been spent on the inquiry, my clients will feel let down that the truth has still not been unearthed and many will feel it is nothing more than an expensive whitewash," she told the Daily Telegraph.

Savile died in 2011 and Hall was jailed in 2013, after admitting indecently assaulting 13 girls.

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