Newsnight journalists to get answers over dropped Savile documentary

BBC director-general George Entwistle has asked a senior colleague to answer Newsnight journalists' questions on the decision to drop a documentary about Jimmy Savile.

Ken MacQuarrie, director of BBC Scotland, will speak to the journalists about the aborted broadcast after several of them wrote to Entwistle to ask why the film was not aired, a BBC spokesman confirmed last night.

The director-general asked MacQuarrie as he was a "senior member of management" at the BBC, the spokesman added.

The BBC's reputation is increasingly under fire after an avalanche of allegations that the corporation was aware of claims about Savile's actions, but did nothing about them.

David Nicolson, who worked as a director on Jim'll Fix It, claimed to have caught Savile having sex with a girl in his dressing room, but was laughed away when he voiced his concerns, The Sun said.

Grant Shapps, chairman of the Conservative Party, told BBC1's Question Time last night that it "seems unimaginable" that people at the BBC were unaware of the child abuse allegations.

He said: "What happened now appears to be outrageous. It's particularly disturbing that a programme paying tribute, a three-parter, went out just last Christmas after it was already known at senior levels within the BBC that something was wrong, enough to have had a serious Newsnight programme made about it and enough to raise serious concerns.

"I do think there are definitely questions that do need answering."

'Cesspit'

Shapps backed calls for Savile to be stripped of his knighthood, saying "it can't be right" that he remains a Sir in name following the allegations.

He said: "I would be in favour of the Forfeiture Committee taking a close look at this because it can't be right that somebody apparently keeps the Sir in front of their name when this is the reality of their life."

Fresh claims of sexual abuse have been made against the late TV presenter, following allegations that he preyed on children during hospital visits.

A string of police forces have received complaints and referred them to Scotland Yard, which is leading the investigation.

Greater Manchester, Lancashire, North Yorkshire and Tayside are the latest forces to say allegations have been made.

A woman told Greater Manchester Police of a sexual relationship she had with Savile from the age of 15, while a second said she was groped by him in Salford when she was under 16.

Another woman told Tayside Police she was targeted in the Liverpool area, an alleged victim told North Yorkshire Police she was preyed on by Savile in Scarborough in the 1980s, and two women complained to Lancashire Police about incidents when one was 14, in the 1960s, and the other 15, in the 1980s.

Claims have also emerged that Savile groped young patients at Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Buckinghamshire, where he worked as a volunteer fundraiser, while one woman alleged that she saw him molest a brain-damaged hospital patient at Leeds General Hospital.

Police believe Savile could have abused as many as 25 victims over a period of 40 years, and have so far formally recorded a number of criminal allegations including rape and indecent assault.

The raft of allegations against Savile has been branded a "cesspit" by BBC Trust chairman Lord Patten who pledged to hold an independent inquiry as swiftly as possible after the police investigation.

As more allegations emerged, Savile's headstone was removed from his grave in Scarborough because his family said they wanted to pay "respect to public opinion". The Savile Hall conference venue in his home city Leeds will also be renamed.

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