BBC turned blind eye to Jimmy Savile’s abuse

Some BBC employees were aware of sexual assault complaints against the late entertainer Jimmy Savile but the institution missed opportunities to stop him, an investigation commissioned by the BBC found Thursday.

Savile, who died in October, 2011, is believed to be one of Britain’s most prolific sex offenders.

The review, carried out by former Court of Appeal judge, Janet Smith, blamed a culture of fear within the media institution for being behind employees’ failures to criticise a celebrity or escalate their concerns to senior managers.

She said an atmosphere of fear still exists at the BBC, but she cleared the institution of responsibility for Savile’s widespread sex abuse — a decision likely to infuriate his victims.

“The evidence I heard suggested that the talent was treated with kid gloves and rarely challenged,” said Ms Smith.

“There was a feeling of reverence for them and a fear that, if a star were crossed, he or she might leave the BBC.”

She said 117 people at the BBC admitted they had heard rumors about Savile, who even abused some victims on BBC premises, including the venues where Top Of The Pops and Jim’ll Fix It were shot.

Girls who raised concerns were treated as a “nuisance”.

Ms Smith’s review said the incidents dated back to 1959. She identified 72 victims of Savile, both male and female.

One was only eight years old at the time.

The inquiry concluded that another BBC star, sports presenter Stuart Hall, 86, also used his celebrity to shield his activities, often plying his victims with alcohol.

The Hall investigation was carried out by another former Court of Appeal judge, Linda Dobbs, because Ms Smith had a conflict of interest.

Ms Dobbs found 21 victims of Hall, who was jailed in 2013 after pleading guilty to multiple charges of indecent assault.

BBC director-general Tony Hall apologised to the victims.

Meanwhile, DJ Tony Blackburn was fired because his evidence to the Savile sex abuse inquiry “fell short” of the standards demanded, said Mr Hall.

The veteran DJ, who has accused the BBC of making him a “scapegoat”, denied he had ever been made aware by the BBC of a complaint against him by a teenager in 1971 even though the corporation told the inquiry he had been.

Ms Smith said she “preferred” the evidence that Blackburn was in fact interviewed by BBC officials about the complaint despite his denial.

The allegation, which Blackburn has strenuously denied, was that he “seduced” teenager Claire McAlpine after inviting her back to his flat following a recording of Top Of The Pops.

In a statement, Blackburn said he had been told that the girl’s mother told the BBC, a few weeks after her initial complaint, that Claire had withdrawn the allegation.

The 73-year-old also said Ms Smith’s report made no suggestion that he was guilty of misconduct with the teenager, nor did a coroner’s inquest or a subsequent police inquiry into her death after she took her own life.

However, Mr Hall said the corporation had “parted company” with Blackburn because of his evidence to the inquiry.


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