Jimmy Savile scandal: Inquiry begins into BBC culture

Jimmy Savile
Image caption,
Police have described the former BBC presenter and DJ as a "predatory sex offender".

An inquiry has begun into the culture and practices at the BBC in the era of alleged sexual abuse by Jimmy Savile.

Former appeal court judge Dame Janet Smith will also consider whether the BBC child protection and whistle-blowing policies are fit for purpose.

Police are investigating allegations TV star Savile sexually abused some 300 young people over a 40-year period.

Meanwhile, a BBC poll has suggested its reputation as a trusted organisation has been damaged amid the scandal.

The telephone survey of more than 1,000 British adults by Comres, on behalf of BBC Radio 5 live, found that 45% of those asked agreed that the corporation was "trustworthy".

When a similar study was undertaken in 2009, 62% of people felt the BBC was a trusted source.

Nearly two-third of adults polled also felt the BBC's reputation had suffered "lasting damage", however 62% agreed the BBC is still a national institution of which they are "proud".


At a Scotland Yard briefing on Operation Yewtree, the Met's criminal investigation into the allegations, Metropolitan Police chief Bernard Hogan-Howe described the pattern of alleged behaviour that had emerged as "pretty awful".

When asked why no action had been taken against the DJ and TV presenter for almost 50 years, the police commissioner said people had relied too much on Savile's reputation, and his word that he had done nothing.

Mr Hogan-Howe added he had been "shocked" by the claims.

Police have reported an increase in the number of people coming forward with claims of abuse since the Savile claims began to emerge earlier this month.

The head of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre, Peter Davies, said the response from the public had been unprecedented.

Separately, former BBC governor for Wales Sir Roger Jones has said he had suspicions about Savile more than a decade ago.

Sir Roger, who is also a former UK chairman of the BBC's charity Children in Need, said he had heard of rumours about Savile from staff working for the charity in London.

He said: "I think we all recognised he was a pretty creepy sort of character.

"When I was with Children in Need we took the decision that we didn't want him anywhere near the charity and we just stepped up our child protection policies - which again would have put him at risk if he tried anything."

But Sir Roger said he was unable to take the matter any further.

"If you're going to go on the attack and make claims against him then you'd need evidence, hard evidence that simply wasn't there," he said.

Sexual harassment

Scotland Yard said it was following about 400 lines of inquiry as part of the investigation into claims that Savile, who died last year aged 84, abused hundreds of young girls and some boys.

The BBC has set up several inquiries in the wake of the scandal.

Dame Janet previously led the Shipman Inquiry, which examined the activities of serial killer GP Dr Harold Shipman.

She will gather evidence from people who have made allegations about being sexually abused by Savile on BBC premises or while on location for the corporation, and from those who claim they raised concerns either formally or informally about his activities.

She will also look at "the extent to which BBC personnel were or ought to have been aware of unlawful and/or inappropriate conduct by Jimmy Savile on BBC premises or on location for the BBC".

In a separate inquiry former Sky News head Nick Pollard is already examining whether there were BBC management failings over a Newsnight investigation into Savile abuse claims that was shelved last year.

Another review will examine sexual harassment policies at the BBC.

As part of police inquiries, ex-pop star Gary Glitter has been arrested and bailed on suspicion of sex offences.

Glitter, 68, whose real name is Paul Gadd, was arrested at home and questioned at a London police station on Sunday before being released on bail until mid-December.

The former glam rock star is the first person to be arrested in connection with the Metropolitan Police's Savile abuse investigation.

Meanwhile, Mr Hogan-Howe also said officers would speak to the Labour MP Tom Watson this week about his claim in the Commons that in the past a child sex ring had operated with links to Downing Street and Parliament.

Prime Minister David Cameron has promised to look into Mr Watson's allegations.