BROADCASTER Janet Street-Porter has revealed she was aware of rumours about Sir Jimmy Savile’s alleged abuse of underage girls when she worked at the BBC during the late 1980s.
The journalist also said there was a culture of inappropriate behaviour behind the scenes of the “male dominated” entertainment industry, adding that nothing would have been done even if the allegations about the late Leeds-based host were raised.
Street-Porter, who joined the BBC as an executive in 1987, said: “I was aware of the rumours about Jimmy Savile, I was also aware of rumours about other people.
“There was a culture, and it was a generational thing, in areas of light entertainment behaviour was tolerated.”
The former Fleet Street editor added: “I feel that the reason these women never came forward before was nobody would have believed them because Jimmy Savile raised so much money for charity and he used the money that he raised for charity as a bargaining power to buy silence from national newspapers.
“If ever there was a time when someone might have blown the whistle on him, he would threaten those newspapers and those reporters that that charity money would not go to those hospitals.”
Street-Porter also said that even if she had raised the rumours with senior BBC executives nobody would have taken any notice.
Speaking on BBC’s Question Time she added: “A lot of people in the BBC knew what was going on.
“I heard the rumours but I was working in an environment that was totally male.
“Do you really think that if I said to someone at the BBC higher up than me this was going on - they wouldn’t gave taken any notice of me whatsoever.”
Street-Porter, who started working in commercial television as a presenter in 1975, said she had been aware of “things going on in dressing rooms” across the industry.
“There was definitely a culture where there was inappropriate sexual behaviour, not necessarily with underage boys and girls, but there was a culture in light entertainment that made me feel uncomfortable.”
Street-Porter’s comments came after Scotland Yard confirmed it had taken the national lead in assessing allegations against the late TV and radio presenter.
The force said it will “work closely” with the BBC and is currently considering a number of claims, including an historic rape allegation referred to them by Surrey Police.
MP Anne Main has also written to Lord Justice Leveson asking him to investigate how the broadcaster handled the allegations as part of his inquiry into press standards.
A growing number of victims have come forward to allege that Sir Jimmy sexually assaulted them after five women took part in a documentary claiming that they had been abused.
In the film, screened on Wednesday, the alleged victims accused the Jim’ll Fix It presenter of sexually assaulting them, some while on BBC premises.
Police in Northamptonshire have been contacted by two alleged victims, while it emerged this week that Surrey, Sussex and Jersey Police have also received complaints.
The Metropolitan Police said the assessment of claims will be led by Detective Superintendent David Gray from the force’s Child Abuse Investigation Command, and that a formal investigation had not yet been launched.
The force issued a statement which said: “Our priority will be to ensure a proportionate and consistent policing response putting the victims at the heart of our inquiries.
“It is too early to say how many individual allegations there are, and we will be making contact with all those concerned in due course.
“We will be working closely with the BBC investigations unit.
“Anyone else with information is urged to make contact with their local police so that any further information can then be passed to us.”
The BBC said it will assist police with investigations.
A spokesman said: “We have asked the BBC investigations unit to make direct contact with all the police forces in receipt of allegations and offer to help them investigate these matters and provide full support to any lines of inquiry they wish to pursue.”