Freelance who broke Savile story says Leveson-effect stopped nationals running with it

The freelance journalist who broke the Jimmy Savile child abuse story back in February has revealed how seven national newspapers declined to run it.

Miles Goslett was the first journalist to air allegations of child abuse involving Savile in a piece for The Oldie magazine. 

Writing in this week's edition of The Specator, Goslett has revealed that he initially contacted six national titles, assuming the story would “sail into any newspaper”. But he believes that the effect of the Leveson Inquiry deterred editors from running with the story.

He wrote: “Some papers told me that because Savile had been dead less than two months the story was ‘in bad taste’, whatever its provenance.

"Others said that if the police hadn’t prosecuted Savile in his lifetime, it wouldn’t be worth pursuing him now. And a couple of newsdesks judged that material like this was ‘best avoided’ for the time being."

He said he assumed the journalist at that paper was referring to Christmas, but the seventh paper he contacted “gave what I now believe to be the real reason I was dismissed by all seven”.

Goslett said: “The senior executive I spoke to admitted that because his editor was about to appear in front of Lord Leveson’s inquiry into press ethics, then at its height, it would be unwise to run the piece.

"Being seen to be behaving responsibly was vital if the press was to avoid statutory regulation.”

He believes the national papers’ rejection of an opportunity to “hold the BBC to account” was “more alarming” than Newsnight not taking the story up.

He said: “The Leveson inquiry, and its perceived threat to a bruised industry, prevented at least one national newspaper from reporting a story which its editor may now regret he did not run."

While criticising the “mainstream” press in his article, Goslett praised The Oldie magazine as well as ITV for taking up the story.

This week’s edition of The Spectator, dated 3 November, is titled “The fight for free speech” and features a number of articles on this theme.

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