UK

Tony Blackburn 'parts company' with BBC over Savile inquiry

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Media captionTony Hall says Dame Janet Smith rejected evidence Tony Blackburn provided to the inquiry

DJ Tony Blackburn has "parted company" with the BBC after failing to fully co-operate with the Jimmy Savile inquiry, director general Tony Hall has said.

Lord Hall said Dame Janet Smith's inquiry had rejected the evidence from the Radio 2 DJ.

The veteran DJ, who has threatened to sue the BBC, said the report included an accusation he was among celebrities who "seduced" a 15-year-old girl.

Mr Blackburn, 73, denies the allegation and says he was cleared of wrongdoing.

In a statement, he accused the BBC of making him a "scapegoat" for its own "cover-up" of abuse.

Dame Janet's report found the BBC had repeatedly failed to stop "monstrous" abuse by DJ Jimmy Savile and broadcaster Stuart Hall because of a "culture of fear".

Lord Hall told a news conference in the wake of the report's publication: "My interpretation is that Tony Blackburn fell short of the standards of evidence that such an inquiry demanded."

He said it was "one of the most important inquiries in the BBC's history and that has put an even greater responsibility on everyone who took part in that inquiry to co-operate fully and to be open".

"So many survivors and witnesses have honestly and openly co-operated fully - and at great personal cost to themselves.

"As Dame Janet has said, she's rejected his evidence and she's explained very clearly why. I have to take that extremely seriously."

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In his statement released on his Twitter account, Mr Blackburn said the claim made in 1971 was quickly withdrawn.

The girl at the centre of the allegation took her own life later that year.


Who is Tony Blackburn?

Image copyright PA

The son of a doctor from Guildford, Tony Blackburn was the first DJ to broadcast on Radio 1 when it launched in September 1967. He spent 17 years at the station and also presented Top of the Pops and was a weekly fixture on Noel's House Party. Prior to all that, he had broadcast on Radio Caroline South and then Radio London.

After Radio 1, he was one of the launch presenters on Capital Gold. He has also hosted Radio 2's Pick Of The Pops as well as regular bank holiday specials for the stations. He has also had shows on BBC London 94.9, BBC Radio Berkshire, the Magic network, BBC3CR and KMFM.

In 2002 he won the ITV reality TV programme I'm A Celebrity ... Get Me Out of Here!


Mr Blackburn said that neither Dame Janet's report into Savile, nor the BBC, made any suggestion he was guilty of misconduct with the girl, nor did a coroner's inquest or a subsequent police inquiry.

He says that, during her review, Dame Janet saw BBC records allegedly showing he was interviewed about the girl's diary by a senior BBC executive, Bill Cotton, and by a senior lawyer.

The DJ says he repeatedly told the review that he was never interviewed by either man.

He said in a statement: "They are destroying my career and reputation because my version of events does not tally with theirs."

"Sadly what is happening to me now seems entirely in keeping with the past BBC culture of whitewash and cover-up."

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Media captionThe dispute centres on what happened in 1971

Speaking to the BBC News Channel, Dame Janet said both Bill Cotton and the senior lawyer said they had had conversations with the DJ.

"[He] told me that no such conversation had taken place and this was not a lapse of memory on his part. They simply had not taken place and I rejected that evidence," she said.

Fellow radio and TV personalities have backed Mr Blackburn on Twitter.

Christine Hamilton, who spent two weeks in the Australian jungle with Mr Blackburn on the first series of I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here, tweeted: "The BBC should be ashamed of themselves for sacking Tony Blackburn. Massive overreaction after lamentable failure over Savile and Hall."

TV's Piers Morgan tweeted: "Fewer nicer guys in showbusiness than @tonyblackburn. BBC treatment of him after 50yrs of brilliant broadcasting is outrageous."

Comedian Danny Wallace tweeted: "I know @tonyblackburn, and as far as I can tell, every bone in his body is decent."

Tony Blackburn responded on Twitter, saying he was "overwhelmed and humbled" by the support from fellow broadcasters and listeners.

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