BBC to hold two inquiries into Savile allegations
LONDON – Britain’s public broadcaster, the BBC, is to launch two internal inquiries into allegations that its late presenter Jimmy Savile used his fame to sexually abuse children over four decades, the corporation said yesterday.
Accusations against Savile, an eccentric and flamboyant figure who hosted children’s shows and raised tens of millions of pounds for charity, have surfaced since his death last year at the age of 84.
The BBC shelved an investigation into Savile by its Newsnight programme because editors were concerned that claims of abuse could not be substantiated.
BBC director general George Entwistle said the independently led inquiries would look at the reasons behind that decision and delve into whether the way the broadcaster was run at the height of Savile’s fame allowed “him or others to carry out the sexual abuse of children”.
“These will be forensic but also soul-searching examinations – our audience’s trust in us is paramount,” he told reporters.
Police have so far received 12 allegations of sexual offences, have been in contact with 40 potential victims, and are investigating 340 leads.
Some of the alleged victims have said there was a culture of sexual abuse inside the BBC involving Savile and other celebrities during the 1970s and 1980s.
Since ITV screened a documentary in which five women alleged they had been abused, new claims about Savile’s predatory behaviour have emerged on a daily basis.
They include allegations that he targeted young hospital patients at Stoke Mandeville in Buckinghamshire and Leeds General Infirmary. – (Reuters/PA)