Panorama reporter Shelley Jofre: Newspapers have questions to answer over Savile silence

Panorama reporter Shelley Jofre believes newspapers have questions to answer for not exposing Jimmy Savile as a sex offender.

Jofre, who ran Panorama’s investigation into why the BBC did not expose Savile, said that the print press should have reported on Savile 50 years ago.

Speaking at a London School of Economics event Jofre highlighted the fact that former Sunday Mirror editor Paul Connew admitted to having the story 19 years ago.

“But in actual fact I got some feedback afterwards from former journalists who suggested that as early as the 1960s the papers knew what he was up to,” she said.

“So why didn’t any of these ‘fearless’ newspapers expose him?”

She added: “I think we all know it’s because of the libel laws, because he had very expensive lawyers and also, for very good reasons, a lot of women were afraid to come forward and tell their stories.

“Because they suspected – and they were probably right over the years – that they wouldn’t have been believed – which is what made it very difficult.”

Jofre told Press Gazette: “I think a lot of the newspapers have questions to answer about that because everybody claims to have known.”

She was speaking at an event at the London School of Economics – just over a week before the BBC refused a request from the university to drop a Panorama investigation into North Korea.

She revealed that the Panorama investigation into the situation, Jimmy Savile- What the BBC knew, was completed within a week and said it was finished a minute before it went on air.

Asked about it, Jofre said: “I think it wouldn’t be giving away too many secrets to say that there wasn’t a great deal of enthusiasm from a lot of the senior management team for the project going ahead. But it was an important story for the BBC to make and particularly the BBC at that time.

“We as investigative journalists were asking the same questions that the audience and the public were asking, which was, ‘is this true? Is it true that the BBC shelved an investigation for fear of embarrassing schedules?’ 

“We just simply wanted to know the answer to that so we proceeded as we would do with any other investigation into an institution or an individual – we applied the same principles and thankfully because we have a very strong, brave editor in Tom Giles we ploughed on with it.”

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