Miliband calls for inquiry into Savile
Labour called tonight for the British government to set up an independent inquiry into the Jimmy Savile sex abuse scandal to “do right by the victims”.
Culture secretary Maria Miller earlier dismissed demands for an independent inquiry, saying she was “confident” BBC chiefs were taking the claims “very seriously”.
But Labour leader Ed Miliband said the BBC’s internal investigations were not enough.
Speaking to ITV1’s The Agenda, he said: “These are horrific allegations. In order to do right by the victims I don’t think the BBC can lead their own inquiry.
“We need a broad look at all the public institutions involved — the BBC, parts of the NHS and Broadmoor. This has got to be independent.”
Labour wants an independent inquiry to have the power to demand documentation and witnesses. It should look into Savile’s activities at the BBC, Stoke Mandeville hospital and Broadmoor, the party said.
“I think we now have enough set of allegations and further allegations to know this is not some isolated set of incidents,” Mr Miliband said.
“This seems to be a pattern of activity which spanned a number of institutions. As I say, I just think about the victims in this. This is absolutely horrific and will scar people for life. And I think for them, the BBC - good institution though it is — I don’t think they can lead their own inquiry.”
Ms Miller told the Commons this afternoon that the allegations had “wide-ranging implications for a number of public institutions” but rejected calls for an outside inquiry to restore the public’s faith, warning it could hamper police investigations.
“In terms of a wider inquiry, we have a police investigation on-going at the moment,” she said. “Everybody would agree that it is really important that those individuals who have been victims know that that investigation can go on unfettered and that that should be our priority at this stage.”
She added: “The BBC has launched three separate investigations, as the House will be aware. The first will look particularly at the allegations with regard to the item on Savile which was inappropriately pulled from Newsnight.”
Ms Miller later denied she was prejudging a BBC inquiry with the use of the word “inappropriately”.
Aides said that she got her words wrong and had meant to say “allegations that an item on Savile was inappropriately pulled”.
Commons culture committee chairman John Whittingdale said BBC director-general George Entwistle had offered to appear before the committee next week and said he was “sure” MPs would take him up on the offer.
Leeds North East MP Fabian Hamilton said his constituents, who turned out in their thousands to pay tribute to the broadcaster when he died, felt “betrayed and angry”.
Police believe the DJ and television presenter’s alleged catalogue of child sex abuse could have spanned six decades and included around 60 victims.
Mr Entwistle announced last Friday that two inquiries would be launched into the abuse claims. One will look into whether there were any failings over the handling of the abandoned Newsnight piece.
A second independent inquiry will look into the “culture and practices of the BBC during the years Jimmy Savile worked here”, Mr Entwistle said.
Conservative MP Rob Wilson, who secured the urgent question in the Commons, said the BBC had been “slow to react” to the scandal and accused its trust of acting as a “cheerleader and defender”.
“I have a number of major concerns that the inquiries by the BBC will not be sufficiently independent, transparent and robust to give the public confidence,” he said.
“Any hint of a cover-up by the BBC of its own role in this dreadful affair will cause huge damage to public and audience trust.”