UK & World News
BBC Chief: Savile Scandal Has Hurt Reputation
The boss of the BBC has admitted the Jimmy Savile scandal engulfing the corporation has damaged its reputation for "trust and integrity."
Director-general George Entwistle, who was questioned by the Culture, Media and Select Committee for two hours, told MPs he believed a Newsnight investigation into the star should have gone ahead.
He said the corporation was now investigating up to 10 "serious allegations" involving past and present employees over the "Savile period".
A subsequent BBC statement said the corporation was "currently aware of nine allegations of sexual harassment, assault or inappropriate conduct regarding current staff or contributors".
Mr Entwistle called the Jim'll Fix It star a "skilful and successful sexual predator who covered his tracks" and said it was impossible to view the claims with "anything other than horror".
He conceded that the alleged abuse would have been impossible had there not been a "broader cultural problem" at the BBC but stressed there was not yet enough evidence to say it was "endemic".
Mr Entwistle said: "There's no question that what Jimmy Savile did and the way the BBC behaved ... the culture and practices of the BBC seems to allow Jimmy Savile to do what he did, will raise questions of trust for us and reputation for us.
"It is a gravely serious matter and one cannot look back at it with anything but horror that his activities went on as long as they did undetected. Of course, that is a matter of grave regret to me.
"It does go to the heart of the question of the BBC's own integrity and trust in the BBC."
He added: "I would accept that there have been times when we have taken longer to do things than in a perfect world I would have liked.
"But I think if you looked at what we have achieved since the scale of the crisis became clear, I think you see we have done much of what we should have done and done it in the right order and with proper respect paid to the right authorities."
Mr Entwistle's appearance before MPs came hours after the BBC broadcast a Panorama programme looking at why a Newsnight investigation in December 2011 into the allegations was dropped.
He argued that the programme was an illustration of the corporation's health rather than a "symptom of chaos" because it showed it could interrogate its own corporate handling of events.
But he admitted that after watching Panorama himself, he had come to the view that Newsnight's work should have been allowed to continue.
The director-general told MPs there had been a "breakdown in communication" between reporters working on the investigation and their editor Peter Rippon.
The allegations about the presenter and DJ only emerged when ITV broadcast a documentary at the start of this month, which sparked accusations of a BBC cover-up.
It also generated major concerns about why persistent rumours about Savile were never properly looked into when he was alive and about the wider culture at the BBC.
Mr Rippon wrote a blog explaining the decision not to proceed with the show, indicating it was down to what they had discovered about the police handling of the Savile investigation.
This was then relied on by management setting out the BBC's position but the corporation was later forced to admit the account was "inaccurate or incomplete".
The editor, who has now stepped aside to focus on the internal inquiry, was strongly criticised by Mr Entwistle for spreading confusion.
"There's no doubt that it is a matter of regret and embarrassment that the version of events recorded in Peter Rippon's blog on October 2 did not turn out to be as accurate as they should have been," he said.
"What I relied upon is something that in my BBC career I've always been able to rely upon, which is the editor of a programme having a full grip and understanding of an investigation they were in charge of.
"In this case that doesn't appear to have been the case, and that is disappointing."
The director-general denied there had been any "managerial pressure" to drop the story and said head of news Helen Boaden had only briefly spoken to the Newsnight team.
She had reminded Mr Rippon that the same journalistic standards had to apply even though Savile was dead but Mr Entwistle insisted this was an appropriate point to make.
"The decision was made by Peter Rippon on his own account. What was going on in his mind at the time is something we have got to rely on the Pollard Review to interrogate as best it can," he said.
Mr Entwistle was warned by Ms Boaden at an awards lunch on December 2 that the Newsnight investigation could affect plans to broadcast a tribute to Savile over Christmas.
He insisted it would have been straightforward to reorganise the schedule if necessary but admits giving it little thought at the time because it was clear the story was not ready.
"If someone had said to me 'We are happy with this, this is ready to broadcast', then at that stage I would have expected to engage fully with the consequences," he said.
Pressed on his reaction, he said: "I don't remember reflecting on it. This was a busy lunch. It wasn't that I didn't want to know. What was in my mind was this determination not to show an undue interest."
He added: "I don't believe I did fail, but I believe the system as a whole seems not to have got this right."
Asked whether he now regretted going ahead with Savile tribute programmes, he said: "In the light of what's happening, of course I do."
His appearance piles pressure on Mr Rippon, who will have to explain himself to the BBC's own inquiry which is being led by former head of Sky News Nick Pollard.
MPs have said they will wait for the outcome of the inquiry before deciding whether to summon Mr Rippon.
A separate internal audit of the BBC's child protection policies has also been launched and will report in December.
David Jordan, the BBC's head of editorial policy, insisted the set-up had been "transformed since the 1960s and 1970s" to ensure the safety of children on site.
The corporation is also bringing in Dinah Rose QC to look at how it handles sexual harrassment cases.
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what do you think?
Just watched panorama about it he was brushing a girls breast on top of the pops while he was jigging about like it was an accident
Perhaps it was!
Do you think JS is innocent Janet?
Why do some of you attack people who may disagree with you, who are any of us to judge we only know what we read in the papers
Steven what right have you got to critcise me like this. just grow up
You deserve to be criticised if you defend a paedophile.
Im not defending a paedophile, just the way this has been conducted. your just a very rude person.
Andrea.. We have crossed swords a lot lately, but you intrigue me!
Andrea.what is wrong with some on here have they never heard of freedom of speech
Pipe down Diane..........(only joking)
Panorama is a BBC programme. Strange that???
This whole thing is a joke. It is a witch hunt and it is a waste of time and effort. There are more important things going on in the world RIGHT NOW which need reporting, issues RIGHT NOW which need addressing and news RIGHT NOW which needs reporting. Grow up and move on.
I think the alleged victims might disagree with you. Doing the right thing, investigating abuse, is not an immature response. I think your attitude to this story is immature.
Tricky One, I think that you need to look at what the press is doing right now. They are not demanding an investigation into the alleged activities of JS rather trying to find somebody to blame for JS not being brought to account long ago. I think that it is YOU who is immature and YOU who is ignorant. Had the offender been a nobody there would not be this frantic clamour to find somebody, other than the perpetrator, to carry the can.
Wow. My thoughts are with these young girls who were taken advantage of and hopefully decreasing the future opportunities for these predators. And this seems to make you so angry. I don't want to ever understand people like you.
My thoughts are with victims too but there is a right way and a wrong way to conduct investigations and bring those guilty to account. My issue is with the media going on a rampage trying to blame somebody else for the crimes. Paedophiles are extremely clever at concealing their crimes and it is wrong to go after others just to make them feel better or to gain a few extra sales. The bosses may have made mistakes but they are not guilty and should not be punished. Look at the likes of Esther Rantzen, who has admitted that she knew of the wrong doings, blame her if you will for not exposing at that time but don't try to blame others who were in charge decades after the events.
My thoughts exactly richard.
Obviously never had contact with abused children, it's something you would never wish on your worst enemy . It's something that haunts them every waking hour and then torments them in their sleep , if only it was so easy to just get over it and move on !!
Totally agree with all you say Richard, especially your post 11.05 today. Many people seem to have selective memories including Esther Rantzen.... she must now feel ashamed?
If they knew which it looks more and more like they did, it makes them as guilty as him !!! Sickening !!!
Any lingering doubts now as to his guilt? Hmmm?
Its better to say he was guilty.as some on here still seem to think he still alive.
Never mind poor old George being lumbared where the prat who was in charge at the time?
It was poor old George - he was head of Vision at the BBc at the time.
Pretty obvious someone was pressurising PR not to let it screen - therefore in whose interest was it that the world should not find out about JS and his gang of seedy contacts. They must have been extremely desperate to protect the JS coterie to go to the other extreme of allowing a tribute programme to go out - this is deception and `feed the plebs rubbish` at its worst.
It appears obvious to me there existed a paedophile ring amongst famous male celebrities of the 1970's. Jimmy Saville. Gary Glitter. Jonathan King. . . But who else? That's the question I want to ask. . Who else?
There will be many, many names to come I fear Stevie
They seem to be suggesting freddie starr being involved but who knows at this stage,lets hope the police get the evidence they need to convict others if there are others.
Tricky One, I think that you need to look at what the press is doing right now. They are not demanding an investigation into the alleged activities of JS rather trying to find somebody to blame for JS not being brought to account long ago. I think that it is YOU who is immature and YOU who is ignorant. Had the offender been a nobody there would not be this frantic clamour to find somebody, other than the perpetrator, to carry the can. There are thousands of paedophiles out there going uninvestigated, there are thousands of victims out there not getting the support they need. If the press put in as much effort investigating this we could make greater headway into combating abuse rather than looking at outing a dead alleged paedophile who just so happens to be a celebrity which hopefully increases sales.
brush it under the carpet .you cant do that twice .it amazes me how it has been covered up so well .well thats the bbc for you .where has the legal system been all those years .
Celebrities sell newspapers especially when theres a scandal.fact of life nowadays.
This affair is getting massive coverage compared with recent cover ups, Saville is dead and his reputation is now gone.
We've agreed and disagreed over the last few weeks, but we were, I think, all of the same mind in as far as there always been a ''cover up''.
Paedophilia is rife in the clergy, with perpetrators merely moved to another parish, yet the media only obsesses over "celebrities" and dead ones at that.
agree with that and i am sure the vatican knew about it years and years ago,,and the only thing that is changing is people now know this is wrong and all these old preists are afraid
The way this is heading ...I expect those Radio One DJ's (BBC) again to be hauled in and asked to explain all those Radio One Roadshows and Seaside Specials alleged shenanigans that went on;)
Entwistle will be the fall guy he will leave with a big fat pension pay off he said the buck will stop with him he was evasive with the truth he was a reporter he new what was going on it was incredulous watching him squirm, The point is this was above him the funny hand shake brigade in the square with jimmy seams odd after Jim il fix it ended 1995 he never realy worked for the BBC again only doing the odd program now and again did they get him out the way then i might be wrong but thats what it looks like to me.
Yes they where going to bring back Jim il fix it but not with him i thought it was going to be this year funny how that did not happen Entwistle said it was never on the cards but it was im sure i heard that in the media?
Makes me laugh when people have to appear before a panel of MP's as it they were some righteous body when we all know they are the most unethical , fiddling liers of then all.
To true and all are funded by us.
wha,t a joke this is like a circus,,40 years ago 2 people from the B,B,C,aksed him if he was having underage sex he said no and it was left at that.,,all this stuff coming out now about sueing this and sueing that,,,,people have to remember ,all pedophiles are devious and lie through there back teeth to keep there sick perversion hidden..now he his dead dont start raking up the past as some poeple have tried very hard to forget that they we molested and try to move on with there lives..so the best things to do now is change the law so as no pedophile can remain hidden from the public ,because it ingringes there human rights.let everybody know who and where they are.and if caught trying to satisfy the sick urges hang them and all our children can play safe out side without these animals rapeing and murdering them,,
WHAT THIS ALL BOILS DOWN TO IS,,SOME PEOPLE BELEIVE AND SOME PEOPLE NEVER BELEIVE THERE HEROS DID THINGS LIKE THIS,,HOW MANY BIG STARS HAVE GOT AWAY WITH THIS AND NOTHING IS DONE ,,???? WHY BECAUSE THEY ARE SUPERSTARS..AND I BELEIVE SOMTIMES THEY GET HELP FROM THE PEOPLE BEHIND THEM..
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The panorama program was a very good pr exercise by the bbc. They seem to have convinced many that they are thourally investigating themselves and doing some soul searching.but whose investigating the bbc.the police i guess.lets hope anyone else involved is dealt with by the courts even those that just turned a blind eye.
There is nothing worse than listening to a a bunch of trumped up, self-promoting, pompous politicians on these committees.