BBC Trust Chairman Chris Patten attends a press conference
at New Broadcasting House in London. REUTERS/Chris
The BBC did not cover up allegations of sex abuse against
one of its former stars Jimmy Savile but the British
broadcaster missed numerous warnings and proved incapable of
dealing with the scandal when it finally broke, an inquiry
News of the crimes by one of the BBC's biggest stars from the
1970s and 80s threw the world-renowned broadcaster into
turmoil and sparked allegations that it shut down an expose
into Savile in favour of tribute programmes after he died
An inquiry into the scandal has published its findings in a
185-page report, saying it had not found any evidence that
senior managers at the BBC applied pressure on the editor of
the flagship "Newsnight" programme to drop the expose.
However, it said the decision to halt that investigation was
wrong and the subsequent fallout resulted in a state of chaos
and confusion. Earlier emailed warnings sent to managers
about a "darker side" to Savile were also ignored.
"The Newsnight investigators got the story right," Nick
Pollard, the author of the report and a former head of news
at rival broadcaster Sky, told reporters.
"They had found clear and compelling evidence that Jimmy
Savile was a paedophile. The decision by their editor to drop
the original investigation was clearly flawed, though I
believe it was done in good faith.
"It was not done to protect the Savile tribute programmes or
for any improper reason."
The BBC, celebrating its 90th anniversary, is affectionately
known in Britain as "Auntie", and respected around much of
the world for its news. But its handling of the Savile affair
has rattled staff and audiences who fund the broadcaster
through an annual licence fee.
Its Director General George Entwistle stood down after 54
days in the top job after failing to get to grips with the
scandal and his predecessor Mark Thompson - now the head of
the New York Times - has also faced difficult questions about
what he knew.
The inquiry said it accepted Thompson's insistence that he
did not know anything about the Savile investigation, a
stance which had been queried after evidence suggested he was
aware of claims about Savile whilst still at the BBC.
"I have no reason at all for disbelieving Mark Thompson,"
said Chris Patten, chairman of the BBC Trust, the
corporation's governing body.
However, other senior managers were not spared criticism. The
BBC said it would appoint a new Newsnight editor while
Stephen Mitchell, the deputy director of news, resigned.
Three other senior figures were moved to new BBC jobs.
INTEGRITY AND TRUST
Patten said the allegation that Newsnight investigation had
been dropped because it clashed with the corporate interests
of the broadcaster was extremely serious.
He told reporters the claim "went right to the heart of the
BBC's reputation, integrity, and the trust which we depend
on. We took the allegations exceptionally seriously."
The accusations against Savile were finally brought to light
by rival broadcaster ITV and some 450 people have since come
forward with information about to Savile to detectives.
Police believe Savile carried out an unprecedented number of
sex offences, and suspect him of involvement in 199 crimes
mostly involving children, including 31 rapes.
The report, following a two-month, 2-million-pound inquiry,
said one of the most disturbing aspects of the affair was how
BBC management failed to communicate properly and respond to
In 2010, the then head of BBC Events emailed Entwistle to
discuss whether the BBC should prepare an obit for Savile at
the time of his death, saying "I'd feel v queasy about an
obit. I saw the real truth!!!".
A second email to Entwistle referred to the "darker side of
the story" of Savile but both warnings were ignored.
The inquiry said it did not regard the email as a "smoking
gun" but it indicated that there was "knowledge, not just
rumour" within the BBC of the unsavoury side of Savile's
character at the time the tribute programmes were planned.
Entwistle, who was at the time the BBC's Controller of
Knowledge Commissioning, said he did not recall the email.
The review should bring an end to the questions around the
Newsnight problems but a separate inquiry is also
investigating the corporation's culture and ethics during the