UK & World News

  • 19 January 2014, 11:25

BBC Staff 'Turned Blind Eye' To Savile Abuse

BBC staff turned a blind eye to the sexual abuse by Jimmy Savile of up to 1,000 girls and boys in the corporation's changing rooms and studios, according to a leaked internal inquiry report.

The inquiry by Dame Janet Smith found the late TV and radio presenter's behaviour had been recognised by BBC executives but they took no action to stop him, according to the Observer newspaper.

A police investigation concluded last year that Savile, who died in 2011 aged 84, was a predatory sex offender who abused children as young as eight over more than 50 years.

It identified 450 victims but the Smith inquiry suggests up to 1,000 people were abused by Savile while he was working for the BBC, the Observer reported.

Peter Saunders, chief executive of the National Association for People Abused in Childhood, which has been consulted by the Smith inquiry, said many people at the BBC admitted knowing about Savile's behaviour.

"The other thing I have found extraordinary, and very sad, is the number of people I have spoken to connected to the BBC - and that is a lot of people - who said: 'Oh yes, we all knew about him.'," Mr Saunders told the newspaper.

The Smith inquiry report is likely to send shockwaves through the BBC when it is presented next month.

Liz Dux, a lawyer representing 74 of Savile's victims, said Dame Janet had been forensic in her examination of witnesses and her report was likely to cause serious concerns for those at the top of the BBC.

"Every single opportunity Savile took it. He never had a quiet day basically so these numbers wouldn't at all surprise me," she told the Observer.

"Dame Janet is very widely respected and I am confident she won't leave any stones unturned. The clients who gave evidence said that they felt they were listened to very sensitively and sympathetically and were able to give their evidence in a lot of detail. This will not be a what-the-BBC-want sort of report."

The Savile revelations sparked a crisis at the corporation over how he was able to carry out such attacks and about the BBC's failure to report the claims against him when they were first raised in the weeks after his death.

Director General George Entwistle resigned in the wake of the scandal.

The Department of Health is currently investigating alleged abuse of patients by Savile at state-run hospitals, while a police report last year found that officers had failed to follow up evidence against Savile dating back as far as 1964.

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