BBC staff knew of Savile's 'dark side'
Staff emails published by an inquiry showed that some knew about a 'darker side' to Jimmy Savile even as they prepared a tribute programme.PT2M10S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-2bnyh 620 349 December 20, 2012
THE BBC has not sacked a single executive, despite admitting that a lack of leadership left it in such a state of ''chaos'' that it was ''completely incapable'' of dealing with the Jimmy Savile sex abuse allegations.
A £2 million ($3 million) review commissioned by the corporation concluded Wednesday that bitter infighting, flawed decision-making and ''rigid management chains'' led to one of the biggest crises in the corporation's history.
It found that executives were warned more than a year ago about Savile's ''dark side'' but still pressed ahead with tribute programs about the presenter.
Under scrutiny … the BBC Trust chairman, Lord Chris Patten. Photo: AFP
A separate report found a senior executive approved a Newsnight program that led to Lord McAlpine, the former Tory treasurer, being wrongly accused of child abuse without asking if basic checks had been made.
Six senior executives and editors were singled out for criticism in the reports - the findings of which were accepted by the BBC in full - but none have been fired. Two have quit, three are being moved into new positions in the BBC and one has kept her job.
The decision not to fire anyone was taken by the broadcaster and approved by the BBC Trust, which is headed by Lord Patten of Barnes. The trust has no power to remove staff except the director-general.
Jimmy Savile ... questions over what the BBC knew and when. Photo: AP
Conor Burns, a Conservative member of the House of Commons culture, media and sport select committee, accused the BBC of failing to ''take responsibility'' and hold its executives to account.
''There were clear and flagrant breaches of the BBC's own editorial code, and while that has been accepted no one has taken responsibility for that systemic failure,'' he said.
The report on the Savile investigation, by the former Sky News executive Nick Pollard, described a culture of ''shocking'' infighting where traditional newsroom camaraderie had been replaced by a ''fundamental lack of trust''.
In November last year, a film investigating Savile's activities was dropped by Peter Rippon, then editor of Newsnight, after he decided that victims' claims were ''contestable'' and ''not worth the fuss''. His decision was criticised by Newsnight journalists, who said it was ''a breach of our duty to the women who trusted us to reveal that Jimmy Savile was a paedophile''.
Mr Pollard, who examined more than 10,000 emails and interviewed 19 people during his investigation, said Mr Rippon's decision not to broadcast was ''flawed and wrong''. Mr Rippon yesterday resigned as editor but remains a BBC employee.
Helen Boaden, the BBC's director of news, was also criticised for the ''casual'' way in which she informed George Entwistle, the former director-general, about the potential controversy surrounding the Newsnight programme. Ms Boaden resumed her position on Thursday.
Mr Entwistle resigned last month after 54 days in the job with a £450,000 pay-off, double the amount he was entitled to. The payout was labelled ''unacceptable'' by the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee in its report.
''Public servants should not be rewarded for failure,'' said the committee's chairwoman, the opposition Labour Party politician Margaret Hodge. ''This cavalier use of public money is out of line with public expectations and what is considered acceptable elsewhere in the public sector.''
For months after the Savile film was dropped, the BBC's publicity machine kept a lid on the story but when it finally broke in October ''the BBC's management system proved completely incapable of dealing with it'', the report says.
A separate report by Ken MacQuarrie, the director of BBC Scotland, examined the ''grave'' editorial failings at Newsnight last month over a program that led to Lord McAlpine being wrongly identified as a paedophile.
The BBC found that Adrian Van Klaveren, the head of Radio 5 who approved the McAlpine broadcast, did so without asking basic questions about its accuracy. He has been moved into a new role outside BBC News. Liz Gibbons, the acting editor of Newsnight also remains a BBC employee.
Telegraph, London; Bloomberg