Tony Blackburn accuses BBC of 'whitewash and cover-up' as he is sacked on eve of Jimmy Savile report publication - Press Gazette

Tony Blackburn accuses BBC of 'whitewash and cover-up' as he is sacked on eve of Jimmy Savile report publication

The BBC's was accused of a cover-up by veteran DJ Tony Blackburn as he was sacked on the eve of the publication of the Janet Smith report into the Jimmy Savile scandal.

The report is expected to detail how an allegation of assault was made against Blackburn in 1971 by a 15-year-old girl who later committed suicide

He said in a statement released in response to his sacking: "I am told that the decision was taken personally by the director-general. Quite naturally, I am devastated.

"The reasons for the BBC taking this decision are that my evidence to Dame Janet Smith shows, I believe, that a cover-up took place – one that I had no knowledge of. This goes against what the BBC believe.

"In 1971, allegations were made by the mother of a 15-year-old girl whose diary apparently contained suggestions that she had been seduced by celebrities including me.

"I am told that the mother told the BBC, a few weeks after her initial complaint, that her daughter had withdrawn the allegation against me.

"I have never seen the diary and neither has anyone at the BBC or the Dame Janet review.

"That same year this seemingly troubled teenager tragically took her own life.

"Dame Janet's report makes no suggestion that I was guilty 45 years ago of any misconduct whatsoever with this girl. Nor did a coroner's inquest or a subsequent police inquiry into her death.

"The BBC have made clear that they are not terminating my relationship with them because of any misconduct. They are destroying my career and reputation because my version of events does not tally with theirs.

"I was not guilty of any inappropriate conduct; my lawyers will take immediate action against anyone suggesting that I was.

"According to BBC records seen by Dame Janet, I was allegedly interviewed about the girl's diary before her death in 1971 by a very senior figure at the BBC, Bill Cotton Jr.

"I was also, supposedly, interviewed by Brian Neill QC as part of his report into the Payola scandal at the BBC.

"I have repeatedly told Dame Janet and the BBC I was never interviewed by either man in this context and the BBC records are either very vague or have, conveniently, disappeared.

"Regardless of these facts, the BBC is axing me after five decades of broadcasting.

"Sadly, what is happening to me now seems to be entirely in keeping with the past BBC culture of whitewash and cover-up."

A leaked draft version of Dame Janet's report condemned the BBC for having managers who were "above the law".

Rapes, indecent assaults on boys and girls, and incidents of "inappropriate sexual conduct" with teenagers over the age of 16 were all "in some way associated with the BBC", the draft report said, adding that three of Savile's victims were only nine.

It also warned of the possibility that another "predatory child abuser could be lurking undiscovered in the BBC even today".the Met Police amid concerns they could prejudice ongoing investigations into sexual abuse.

Meanwhile Hall has hit out at "vindictive, malicious people" who accused him of sex crimes, as he spoke publicly for the first time since leaving prison.

In an interview with The Sun, he said he lived one day at a time and was grateful to still be alive.

He said: "To go from being a national treasure to the bottom of the pond has been very difficult. The vindictive, malicious people who have impugned me will think again. I'm hoping for fairness from everybody."



Press Gazette's must-read weekly newsletter featuring interviews, data, insight and investigations.

No comments to display

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *