UK

Tony Blackburn: 'I've been hung out to dry by BBC'

Tony Blackburn Image copyright PA
Image caption Tony Blackburn was the first DJ to broadcast on BBC Radio 1 when it launched in 1967

Tony Blackburn has said the BBC "hung me out to dry" over the Jimmy Savile inquiry and he will sue the corporation where he worked for nearly 50 years.

Director general Tony Hall said the BBC had "parted company" with the Radio 2 DJ after he failed to fully co-operate with Dame Janet Smith's inquiry.

The veteran DJ 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.

One of Britain's best known DJs, his Saturday afternoon Radio 2 show Pick of the Pops attracted several million listeners every week. He was the first DJ to broadcast on Radio 1 when it launched in 1967.

BBC 'missed chances to stop abuse' by Savile

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Dame Janet Smith report: Key sections

Savile report reaction

In his latest statement, he accused the inquiry of being a "whitewash" and said he had been "scapegoated for giving my honest account and best recollections of those events 45 years ago".

Dame Janet's report said it had rejected the evidence given by Mr Blackburn that he had not been questioned at the time about the allegation involving the teenage girl.

In an earlier statement, Mr Blackburn said the allegation made in 1971 was quickly withdrawn.

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

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.


Who is Tony Blackburn?

Image copyright PA

Tony Blackburn, the son of a doctor from Guildford, 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!

Tony Blackburn profiled


After the publication of Dame Janet's report - which looked into abuse by the late DJ Jimmy Savile and broadcaster Stuart Hall - Lord Hall said: "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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Media captionTony Hall says Dame Janet Smith rejected evidence Tony Blackburn provided to the inquiry

Speaking to the BBC News Channel, Dame Janet said both senior BBC executive Bill Cotton and a 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.

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

'Black day'

Mr Blackburn referred to this conclusion in his own statement, saying: "Given Dame Janet Smith's concerns of a culture of fear in coming forward at the BBC, what whistle-blower at the BBC would ever come forward when they see the way they have hung me out to dry?

"Sadly, today's news agenda should have been about the survivors of abuse carried out within the BBC but, by sacking me, they have managed to take the focus off those who have suffered so much," he added.

"My lawyers are now considering all statements made by the BBC about me today and we will be taking action."

Fellow TV and radio broadcasters, including Piers Morgan and Eamonn Holmes, have been sending supportive tweets to the DJ throughout the day.

Broadcaster Nina Myskow told Jeremy Vine on BBC Radio 2: "It should be a black day for the BBC because of the revelations about the whole Savile episode, but in fact that's been buried very cleverly by the BBC as usual by sacking Tony Blackburn."

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