Jimmy Savile abuse claims: BBC pledges 'examination'

BBC Director General George Entwistle: ''These are awful allegations''

The BBC has promised a "comprehensive examination" of allegations the late Sir Jimmy Savile sexually abused girls while working for the corporation.

Director General George Entwistle said all "outstanding questions" would be addressed after police finished their inquiries.

A growing number of women have come forward to say they were victims of the presenter.

He also apologised to women involved "for what they've had to endure here".

Some have also spoken of a broader BBC culture which tolerated sexual harassment in the 1980s.

But two former Radio 1 presenters - Mike Smith and Jackie Brambles - have now said they do not recall that kind of atmosphere there.

They were responding to an allegation from the former Radio 1 DJ, Liz Kershaw, who said during that period the station had a "rugby club locker room" culture and that she had been "routinely groped" while on-air.

Brambles said there was a "hilarity and wildness" but her experience in terms of sexism "was quite the reverse".

"I was surrounded by a network of extremely supportive male broadcasters," she told BBC Radio 5 live.

'Enormous obligation'

George Entwistle's announcement that the BBC will address "all outstanding questions" once the police have considered the criminal allegations has been welcomed by those calling for an inquiry.

The Tory MP Rob Wilson said the issues went much wider than criminality - they were about "a pretty rotten culture".

What's not clear is how quickly any such inquiry could start.

Dozens more people have come forward in the past few days with their own allegations against the Jim'll Fix It presenter, and other broadcasters and producers - some still living.

These must be assessed by the Metropolitan Police, which will then decide how to proceed and whether any prosecutions should follow.

It could be a long time.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Mr Entwistle said: "The women involved here have gone through something awful, and something I deeply regret they should have had to go through, and I would like to apologise on behalf of the organisation to each and every one of them for what they've had to endure here.

"We need a comprehensive examination of what went on." But not before a full police investigation, he insisted.

Mr Entwistle denied he was kicking an inquiry into the long grass.

"When the police have finished everything they have to do, and when they give me the assurance there is no danger of us in any way compromising or contaminating an investigation, I will take it further and ensure that any outstanding questions are answered properly," he said.

Particularly, the organisation would look at "the broad question of what was going on and whether anybody around Jimmy Savile knew what was going on".

"Jimmy Savile was regarded by a great many people as odd - a bit peculiar," said Mr Entwistle.

However, if anyone actually knew what was happening, "then there was an enormous obligation on them to have done something about it".

"It's very important people don't think the BBC of today is anything like in character managed the way it was at the time," he added.

The chairman of the BBC Trust, Lord Patten, said later that the BBC would look at the allegations "in a way that will have to command credibility from the wider community".

He said it was not an excuse to say the events happened in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s when attitudes towards women might have been different.

Lord Patten added: "I wonder, if all the journalists who knew that Jimmy Savile was a groper, I just wonder, why they did not write it."

The Metropolitan Police said last week it would be assessing allegations against Sir Jimmy but had not yet launched an investigation.

'Serious sexual assaults'
Jimmy Savile The DJ and presenter Sir Jimmy Savile hit the height of his fame in the 1970s

Sir Jimmy died in October 2011, at the age of 84.

The face of Top of the Pops in the 1960s, he hosted TV favourite Jim'll Fix It on BBC 1 in the 1970s and 1980s and was knighted in 1990 for his charity work.

But over the past week allegations have emerged about serious sexual assaults upon under-age girls at the height of his fame.

Some of the allegations - publicised in an ITV documentary - refer to incidents on BBC premises.

Mr Entwistle was asked whether a similar Newsnight report had been dropped because it was embarrassing to the BBC and would clash with a tribute to Sir Jimmy broadcast in Christmas 2011.

He said he had been told about the report in December because of "possible implications for programming and scheduling decisions in Vision".

He also denied the Newsnight editor had been influenced over the matter, adding he supported his judgement.

"He was not brought under any pressure from anybody in the management chain in his own division or elsewhere to make a different judgement than the one he made."

'Regularly fondled'

Conservative MP for Reading, Rob Wilson - who has written to BBC Trust chairman Lord Patten about the matter - called for the BBC probe to be "much wider" than one into criminal claims.

"A pretty rotten culture... allowed young girls to be molested and worse and presenters to be fondled by other celebrities. This is an incredible situation and needs to be investigated fully."

Meanwhile, it has emerged that the Jimmy Savile Charitable Trust is considering changing its name.

And a footpath sign commemorating him in Scarborough has been taken down by the council.

The Sun newspaper is campaigning to have his knighthood stripped, so he would no longer be referred to as Sir Jimmy.

But a Cabinet Office spokesman explained that honours no longer apply after a person died and it was technically unnecessary to refer to the entertainer in that way.

"The Order of the British Empire is a living Order, and individuals cease to be a member when they die."

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