Shelved Savile report sparked ‘chaos and confusion’ at BBC

BBC Trust Chairman Lord Pattern
BBC Trust Chairman Lord Pattern
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THE decision to drop a Newsnight report into Jimmy Savile’s decades-long campaign of sexual abuse plunged the BBC into “chaos and confusion”, revealing a corporation where “leadership and organisation seemed to be in short supply”, according to a review into the crisis.

One senior executive has resigned in the wake of the report, by former Sky News executive Nick Pollard, with several others shunted aside into new roles.

The report’s findings were announced as police investigating the Savile abuse scandal arrested a man in his 70s, who was later released on bail.

Among the evidence in Mr Pollard’s report is an email sent to former director-general George Entwistle, two years before he took the top job, telling him an obituary for Savile was not done because of “the darker side” to his life. Mr Entwistle told the inquiry he had not read the email, which Mr Pollard said indicates “there was knowledge, not just rumour ... about the unsavoury side of Savile’s character” in BBC television shortly after his death.

The review paints a picture of a top-down organisation beset with rivalries and faction-fighting.

The BBC’s management system “proved completely incapable of dealing” with the issues raised by the axing of the story and “the level of chaos and confusion was even greater than was apparent at the time”, it said.

“The decision to drop the original investigation was flawed and the way it was taken was wrong but I believe it was done in good faith. It was not done to protect the Savile tribute programmes or for any improper reason,” Mr Pollard said in the report.

The review was published at the same time as another review by the BBC Trust concluded that airing a Newsnight report leading to Lord McAlpine being wrongly named as a paedophile resulted largely from a failure by members of the team to follow the BBC’s

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