Entertainment & Arts

BBC Trust stands by 'robust' Pollard Review despite criticism

Nick Pollard
Image caption Mr Pollard's review was published last December

Nick Pollard's review of Newsnight's dropped investigation into Jimmy Savile has been defended by the BBC Trust after criticism from a Conservative MP.

Rob Wilson provided the Trust with a recorded conversation in which Mr Pollard appeared to admit omitting a key letter from his report.

The Trust said it was a "mistake" not to include the letter's claims about former director general Mark Thompson's knowledge of Newsnight's report.

Mr Pollard stands by his findings.

In his review, which was published in December last year, the former Sky News editor criticised BBC management but found no evidence of a cover-up after Newsnight shelved its report into the allegations against Savile.

There had been claims the programme was dropped to protect tribute shows to Savile.

Mr Thompson, who has since left the BBC, has always denied knowing the "substance of the allegations" before they came to light in October 2012.

However, a letter submitted to Mr Pollard's review by former BBC head of news Helen Boaden said she had informed Mr Thompson of "the nature" but not the details "of the Newsnight investigation, so far as she knew it," via a phone call in December 2011.

That was in contradiction to Ms Boaden's original testimony, but submitted in time for Mr Pollard to consider the information for his final report.

Image caption The report dismissed claims the programme was dropped to protect tribute shows to Savile

Leaked recording

However, he failed to make reference to the letter, which was sent by Ms Boaden's lawyers, and later admitted in a taped telephone call with a journalist that this may have been a "mistake".

The recording, which was obtained by Mr Wilson, MP for Reading East, was made public via the Guido Fawkes political blog on Wednesday.

It was suggested the recording raised questions about the validity of the conclusions of the report.

In response, the trust said: "The Trustees noted that Nick Pollard feels he had made a mistake in the drafting of one aspect of the report - the failure to make reference to the letter from the solicitors of then Director of News Helen Boaden."

However, the trust said it was "satisfied" that Mr Pollard "properly weighed all the evidence that was available to him and that the conclusions of his report are robust".

Mr Pollard has written a letter to the Trust apologising for the conversation but also defending his conclusions.

Ms Boaden also wrote to the Trust earlier this year, further clarifying her evidence.

"My recollection is that I told Mark what I knew: That Newsnight had been investigating 30-year-old allegations of sexual abuse of teenage girls by Jimmy Savile at an Approved School in Surrey," she wrote.

"The editor did not think the allegations stood up so had discontinued the investigation for legitimate editorial reasons.

"I added that the Surrey Police had looked at the case more recently and decided not to pursue it. Mark thanked me and rang off. We did not discuss it again."

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