Statement from BBC Director-General George Entwistle
The revelations of sexual abuse by Jimmy Savile we’ve heard so far – and that are still coming in to the police – are awful. As the Director-General of the BBC, I have made clear my revulsion at the thought that these criminal assaults were carried out by someone employed by the BBC – and that some may have happened on BBC premises, as well, as we now discover, in hospitals and other institutions across the UK.
So before I explain how we will examine every aspect of this series of events, I have one thing to repeat. That is a profound and heartfelt apology – on behalf of the BBC – to every victim. It is the victims, these women who were subject to criminal actions who must be central in our thoughts. And it is the fundamentally criminal nature of many of these allegations that has made supporting the police my first priority.
But the BBC will not avoid confronting the events of its past; to understand what happened and to try to ensure that nothing of this kind can happen ever again at the BBC.
We are today announcing two pieces of work; both to be led by independent figures with the ability to command respect for their insight and judgement. I am not able to announce these names today. But I can confirm we are already talking to them and I will announce the names as soon as possible.
There will be two independent reviews commissioned by the BBC’s Executive Board, chaired for the purpose of these reviews by our Non-Executive Director Dame Fiona Reynolds.
Despite our efforts to make clear our belief that the decision to drop the Newsnight investigation was taken properly for sound editorial reasons, people have continued to speculate. This is damaging to the BBC and is a cloud of suspicion which cannot be allowed to continue. The BBC Executive Board and I have, therefore, ordered an immediate independent inquiry led by an external expert into whether there were any failings in the BBC management of the Newsnight investigation.
The Board has also set up an inquiry – once the police have indicated they are happy for it to proceed – into the culture and practices of the BBC during the years that Jimmy Savile worked here, and afterwards.
It will examine whether that culture and those practices allowed him or others to carry out the sexual abuse of children. It will also examine whether the BBC’s child protection, whistleblowing, and bullying and harassment policies and practices are now fit for purpose; and whether there are any lessons from the illegal activities of Jimmy Savile or others for the BBC today in its operation of these policies and practices. We will, of course, share any lessons with all interested parties.
The independent chair of this review will be assisted by an expert in the safeguarding of children. Again, we will announce the name of the chair as soon as possible.
Both of these reviews have been agreed with the BBC Trust and appropriate procedures will be put in place to manage any potential conflicts of interest with Executive Directors.
Both reviews will report through to the Executive Board and Trust, and they will both be published.
These will be forensic, but also soul-searching, examinations. Our audience's trust in us is paramount. We will do everything in our power to maintain that trust – and we will do that by holding ourselves to account fully and openly – as we have always done and as our audiences expect.
Next week I will have news about how we will deal with allegations of sexual harassment. I will give you more details of this as soon as I have them. I remain confident our existing policies are working effectively to deal with any such problems today.
Jimmy Savile’s victims have faced years of pain. We owe it to them – and to our audiences – to understand how this could have happened – and to make sure that we do everything so that nothing like this could ever happen again.
BBC Press Office
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