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Jimmy Savile allegations: BBC to hold independent inquiry

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Lord Patten, the chairman of the BBC Trust, has said that the BBC's investigation into the sexual abuse allegations against Sir Jimmy Savile will be led by an outsider.

Speaking to journalists today, Lord Patten said that there is no point in having an investigation into the "serious issues" raised unless it is "wholly credible".

Sir Jimmy Savile

© Rex Features

Lord Patten

© PA Images



But he also defended the BBC's decision to air tribute programmes to Savile after he died last year, despite bosses at the corporation knowing about a Newsnight investigation into the alleged child abuse claims against him.

Lord Patten said that many newspapers were printing "hagiographies" to the TV star, despite also being aware of the "rumours".

On Monday, the BBC director general George Entwistle apologised to the alleged abuse victims, and said that the BBC would launch a "comprehensive examination" of claims that some cases occurred while Savile was working for the corporation.

Discussing the BBC's response to the allegations, which were aired in an ITV documentary last week, Lord Patten said: "The first thing we did, and I hope others would have behaved the same in the circumstances, is bring in the police.

"As soon as we get the greenlight from the police, who wanted us to stand back for a bit, we will launch our own inquiry.

"It will be independent and it will be thorough, and it will be chaired by somebody independent. The identity of that person... will be agreed between the director general and the BBC Trust."

Sir Jimmy Savile

© Rex Features / Alex Maguire



Asked by ITV News about the BBC's decision to air tribute programmes to Savile after his death in October 2011, Lord Patten said: "For years newspaper editors have known that there were rumours about Jimmy Savile, they have said that themselves.

"And for years, even when the BBC did a programme on Jimmy Savile in 2000, they have still been publishing hagiographies about Jimmy Savile.

"So I don't think if the director general [Mark Thompson at the time] knew that there was an inquiry going in December (2011), that should have made him pull a programme later on in December and then again in January."

Meanwhile, the BBC Trust has today asked new BBC boss George Entwistle to check that the BBC's child protection policies, processes, guidance and training are "fit for purpose" following the allegations.

Alongside sexual harassment, the investigation will also cover issues of bullying and whistle-blowing. An interim report must be submitted on this to the Trust by December 19.
Esther Rantzen, the TV presenter and founder of Childline, has called on the television industry to learn from the Jimmy Savile controversy and create a workable system that allows whistleblowers to more easily flag up potential cases of abuse.

This comes as more people come forward to police claiming that they were abused by the late Jim'll Fix It host.

Greater Manchester police said that it has received two reports, described as "historic complaints dating back to the 1960s", while Tayside Police said a woman had reported another "historical incident" alleged to have taken place in Liverpool.

A man is also said to have contacted Cleveland Police about an incident that allegedly occurred to him in the early 1970s when he was aged 9.

The Metropolitan Police, which is leading the overall investigation, plans to study the new reports, but has said previously that there could be up to 30 victims of Savile.

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