BBC director general to meet MPs over Savile next week

 

Harriet Harman: "What has deepened the revulsion is that this happened at the BBC"

BBC director general George Entwistle has offered to appear before MPs next week over the Sir Jimmy Savile scandal.

Mr Entwistle's decision to bring forward his appearance surfaced as MPs criticised the BBC.

Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman said the Savile abuse claims "cast a stain" on the corporation, but Culture Secretary Maria Miller dismissed calls for an independent inquiry.

Police believe Savile may have sexually abused 60 people since 1959.

Mr Entwistle had been due to appear in front of MPs later this year, but he offered to bring it forward to 23 October, said culture committee chairman John Whittingdale.

Mr Whittingdale said he was "sure" MPs would take Mr Entwistle up on his offer.

Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman told MPs that Savile's "exalted" status within the corporation allowed him to act with impunity.

She said: "Everyone has been sickened by the vile abuse perpetrated by Jimmy Savile. It's impossible to overstate the suffering he caused to those he abused.

"What has deepened the revulsion is that this happened at the BBC, an institution so loved and trusted it is known as Auntie. This has cast a stain on the BBC."

Mrs Miller told the Commons she was satisfied the corporation was taking the allegations "very seriously," saying the BBC had launched three reviews.

"The first will look particularly at the allegations with regard to the item on Savile which was inappropriately pulled from Newsnight," she said.

A spokesman for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport later clarified that Ms Miller had misread her statement and meant the inquiry would look into allegations the Savile investigation was inappropriately pulled.

Mrs Miller added that the BBC's second review - undertaken when the police advised it was appropriate to do so - would focus on Savile himself.

"And although the BBC's child protection policy was overhauled in 2002, the review will also focus on whether its policy is fit for purpose and what lessons can be learnt. That will be assisted by an independent expert," she added

Revulsion

A third review would look at wider allegations of sexual harassment at the corporation, Mrs Miller said.

"These are undoubtedly very serious matters that have wide-ranging implications for a number of public institutions, not just the BBC. It is now crucial we understand what went wrong and how it can be put right."

A man has claimed in The Sun newspaper that he was assaulted by Savile as a nine-year-old boy scout

Mrs Miller was speaking in response to a question from Tory MP Rob Wilson, who said he had a "number of major concerns that the investigations announced by the BBC will not be sufficiently independent, transparent and robust to give the public confidence."

Mrs Miller said there was no need for a wider inquiry while the police investigation was going on. It was crucial detectives were allowed to continue their investigation "unfettered" by other inquiries, she said.

Meanwhile, Savile's youngest-known victim has spoken, a man who said he was abused after he appeared on his TV show Jim'll Fix It aged nine.

Kevin Cook told the BBC: "He led me off, we went down some corridors, through some doors, we went off to a really dingy dressing room.

"He took me in there and again asked me if I wanted my badge, which I said yes, and that's where it took place. He sat me down in a chair, he stood in front of me, and that's where he assaulted me."

In other developments on Monday:

  • A former chairman of the branch of the Prison Officers Association at Broadmoor Special Hospital, Frank Mone, said Savile would not have been left alone with patients there. It follows a claim from a former patient that Savile sexually assaulted him in the early 1970s
  • Former Radio 1 DJ Dave Lee Travis has denied claims he groped two women in BBC studios

Scotland Yard, which is co-ordinating the investigation, said it was following up 340 lines of inquiry on Savile and was in contact with 14 other police forces.

Police said the allegations spanned six decades, with reports up to and including 2006.

Savile, who presented Top of The Pops and Jim'll Fix It in the 1970s and 80s, died in October 2011, aged 84.

 

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