BBC cleared of coverup in Savile case, But a report faults the British broadcaster’s decision to drop a news investigation
December 25, 2012 Comments Off on BBC cleared of coverup in Savile case, But a report faults the British broadcaster’s decision to drop a news investigation
BBC cleared of coverup in Jimmy Savile case
But a report faults the British broadcaster’s decision to drop a news investigation of pedophilia allegations against the late TV host, as well as ensuing ineptitude.
December 19, 2012 By Henry Chu, Los Angeles Times
LONDON — The BBC did not deliberately cover up sex abuse allegations against one of its most famous hosts in order to go ahead with tribute shows to him after his death, but its decision to drop a news investigation into the accusations was “seriously flawed,” a highly anticipated report released Wednesday says….
Pollard, a prominent former television news executive, was commissioned by the BBC to conduct an independent inquiry into why the corporation chose to kill an investigation of Savile by its program “Newsnight” that was on track to be aired in late 2011.
Savile, an eccentric figure who wore tracksuits and long hair, had died a few months earlier after many years as a children’s television host at the BBC. Other divisions of the broadcasting corporation were planning lavish holiday tributes to him.
Those tributes went ahead, and the “Newsnight” program was shelved. But this year, a rival network broadcast its own investigation of Savile, who is now suspected by police of having been a predatory pedophile responsible for molesting or raping dozens of young girls, some of them on BBC premises.
Pollard’s report, based on interviews and a review of more than 10,000 emails and other documents, concludes that there had not been any undue pressure from senior management to pull the “Newsnight” investigation in order to protect the BBC’s reputation or to continue with the tribute shows. “Newsnight” editor Peter Rippon made an honest but wrong assessment that the evidence in the investigation was not strong enough, the report says.
“The ‘Newsnight’ investigators got the story right,” Pollard said. “The decision by their editor to drop the investigation was clearly flawed and the way it was taken was wrong, but I believe it was done in good faith. It was not done to protect the Savile tribute programs.”
However, once the accusations surfaced on rival network ITV and questions began to be raised about the aborted “Newsnight” program, the BBC responded with breathtaking incompetence, the report says in a particularly damning finding.
The Jimmy Savile child abuse scandal breaks
28 September: the scandal of Jimmy Savile’s child abuse allegations goes public – and the BBC investigates itself
Shelley Jofre, Panorama reporter
The Observer, Saturday 22 December 2012
When the story broke that Exposure was going to be doing a story on Jimmy Savile, and that Newsnight had somehow suppressed it, I suggested to my editor, Tom Giles, that we should do something about it. Like any journalist I just wanted to know what on earth had gone on.
The story was moving so quickly we made the film in a week – it normally takes a month. We were unravelling the whole thing on the hoof and managed to gather a huge amount of information about what happened with Savile at the BBC over four decades. From the testimonies, some of the stories seem jawdropping. Our archive producer did an amazing job of unearthing powerful footage of Savile so we saw how overtly sexual he was, groping and leering at women on the programmes we all watched as children.
The most poignant was the group of cub scouts who appeared on Jim’ll Fix It. The archive producer located footage of the boy I interviewed anonymously as a grown man. You could see the joy and happiness on his face as a nine-year-old during what should have been one of the biggest moments of his childhood, then he was molested shortly afterwards in Savile’s dressing room. He was so ashamed he didn’t tell anyone for 40 years….