As more alleged victims of Jimmy Savile speak to press, why did BBC fail to air Newsnight investigation?

Four alleged victims of sex attacks by the late DJ Jimmy Savile spoke to newspapers yesterday –waiving their right to anonymity under the Sexual Offences Act.

The Daily Mail spoke to Katrina Rose, 51, who described how she was attacked by Savile when she was 14 and Bebe Roberts, 62, who said Savile assaulted her when she was 14.

The Sun spoke to Deborah Cogger, 52, who said that Savile tried to kiss her and touch her chest when she was a pupil at Duncroft Approved School for Girls. And former beauty queen from Worthing Jill, 61, told the paper that Savile bundled her into his caravan when she was 20 and jumped on her.

The alleged victims have come forward in the wake of pre-publicity for Exposure: The Other Side of Jimmy Savile, which airs on ITV1 on Wednesday night.

It is based on interviews with six women who told programme makers that they were abused by Savile.

Today, the BBC is facing questions over why it did nothing about the actions of the long-standing employee of the corporation over allegations which were apparently widely known about.

And there are further questions about why BBC Newsnight failed to air a ten-minute segment detailing similar allegations in December last year, two months after Savile died. BBC journalists had interviewed 10 alleged victims of Savile.

According to The Guardian, Newsnight journalists also established that there was a police investigation in 2007 which was not proceeded with. This fact only emerged publicly this week.

In December the BBC did air two tribute programmes to Savile.

Former Newsnight political editor Michael Crick (now at Channel 4) said on Twitter yesterday: “Somebody in George Entwistle's office should be preparing a very strong BBC apology statement over Savile right now and get it out at once.”

He added: “Not just BBC who ran scared of Savile story. Journalist Miles Goslett tried 6 national papers. All said no, before Ingrams at Oldie said yes.”

Monthly magazine The Oldie, edited by Richard Ingrams, ran a story in March by Goslett detailing the Savile sex-abuse allegations and the fact that the story had been dropped by Newsnight.

The BBC said in a statement yesterday: "It is absolutely untrue that the Newsnight investigation was dropped for anything other than editorial reasons. We have been very clear from the start that the piece was not broadcast because the story we were pursuing could not be substantiated. To say otherwise is false and very damaging to the BBC and individuals.

"The notion that internal pressure was applied appears to be a malicious rumour.

"No pressure was applied to drop this investigation. None. To suggest otherwise is to risk impugning the professional reputation and integrity of a number of journalists."


6 thoughts on “As more alleged victims of Jimmy Savile speak to press, why did BBC fail to air Newsnight investigation?”

  1. Must admit, and having worked for neither the DM nor the BBC, I am intrigued at the perception that the former has undertaken scrupulous research, whilst the latter didn’t try too hard. Would be far more impressive if the DM had aired these unsubstantiated claims, when Savile could have sought legal redress.
    The PG headline talks of ‘failing to air’, implying that the BBC had a solid story and chose not to proceed on non-journalistic grounds, but I can’t see the justification for that inference.

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