Radio Sandwell News

Jimmy Savile scandal: BBC announces inquiry heads

2012-10-16 22:53:17

Jimmy Savile

The BBC has appointed former Appeal Court judge Dame Janet Smith and ex-Sky News boss Nick Pollard to lead two inquiries into the late Jimmy Savile.

Police say Savile, who rose to fame in the 70s and 80s, may have sexually abused 60 people over a 40-year period.

Dame Janet will look into the culture and practices of the BBC during the years Jimmy Savile worked there.

Mr Pollard will examine Newsnight's shelving of an investigation into why police dropped a sexual abuse probe.

Police believe Savile, who died in October 2011 aged 84, may have sexually abused 60 people since 1959.

The BBC has been criticised for not calling Savile's behaviour into question and flagging up any abuse allegations during his long career at the corporation, during which he presented several television shows including Top of the Pops and Jim'll Fix It.

Dame Janet's inquiry will include evidence from people who have made allegations about being sexually abused by Savile on BBC premises or while on location for the corporation.

And it will hear from those who claim they raised concerns either formally or informally about his activities.

She will also look at "the extent to which BBC personnel were or ought to have been aware of unlawful and/or inappropriate conduct by Jimmy Savile on BBC premises or on location for the BBC".

The review will examine whether BBC culture enabled "the sexual abuse of children to continue unchecked". She will be assisted by an expert in child safeguards.

Legal support

The Pollard Review, which is being treated as a matter of urgency, will seek to establish whether there were any "failings" in the BBC's decision to drop the Newsnight investigation.

The programme had been looking into the CPS and Surrey Police's decision to drop an investigation of abuse claims against Savile.

It will also look at the BBC's handling of material which might have been of interest to the police. Mr Pollard will be given legal support independent of BBC management.

There has been speculation that it was dropped because the BBC was already planning to run more favourable programmes, claims which it has repeatedly denied.

BBC director general George Entwistle said last week he was launching the Newsnight inquiry to shake off the "clouds of suspicion".

Dame Fiona Reynolds, who chaired the BBC Executive Board which appointed them, said: "These reviews will demonstrate the BBC's determination to open itself fully to scrutiny from independent experts, emphasising our belief that the basis of the public's trust is full openness and accountability."

Mr Entwistle did not take part in discussions around the decisions surrounding either the terms of reference for the reviews or the appointment of the two heads.

BBC Trust chairman Lord Patten has written to Mr Entwistle to confirm the acceptance of the details of the reviews.

He added: "The Trust take the allegations that have been made extremely seriously and wants you to make every effort to ensure that the inquiries have access to the resources they require to undertake their role comprehensively, as well as the full cooperation of BBC staff and executives."

Earlier, Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman warned it would be "complacent" to assume "systematic" abuse "would never happen now".

Her comments backed leader Ed Miliband's call for a wider inquiry covering the BBC, NHS and Broadmoor secure hospital.

No 10 said the police investigation into allegations against Savile, who died in October 2011, was a priority. However, it did not rule out a wider inquiry in the future.


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