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13 October 2012
Jill Lawless, The Associated Press Oct 13, 2012 07:50:00 AM
FILE – This is a Dec. 17, 1986 file photo of British disc jockey and BBC TV presenter Jimmy Savile at Madame Tussauds museum in London. The BBC is struggling to contain a crisis sparked by allegations of serial sexual abuse against the late Jimmy Savile, a longtime children’s television host. Dozens of women have come forward to say that Savile, who died in October 2011 aged 84, sexually assaulted them when they were as young as 13. London’s Metropolitan Police, which is leading a national investigation, says it has identified 40 potential victims. (AP Photo/John Redman)
LONDON – The BBC is struggling to contain a crisis sparked by allegations of serial sexual abuse against the late Jimmy Savile, a longtime children’s television host.
Dozens of women have come forward to say that Savile, who died in October 2011 aged 84, sexually assaulted them when they were as young as 13. London’s Metropolitan Police, which is leading a national investigation, says it has identified 40 potential victims.
The publicly funded national broadcaster is facing questions about its failure to stop Savile’s predatory behaviour, which was an open secret in showbiz circles during his heyday several decades ago.
BBC Director-General George Entwistle announced late Friday that the broadcaster would hold an inquiry into the “culture and practices of the BBC during the years Jimmy Savile worked here.”
“It will examine whether that culture and those practices allowed him or others to carry out the sexual abuse of children,” said Entwistle, promising a “forensic but also soul-searching examination.”
Some assaults are alleged to have taken place on BBC premises, others at hospitals and schools Savile visited as part of his charity fundraising.
Entwistle said he offered a “profound and heartfelt apology on behalf of the BBC to every victim.”
“As the director-general of the BBC I have made clear my revulsion at the thought that these criminal assaults were carried out by someone employed by the BBC and that some may have happened on BBC premises as well as, we now discover, in hospitals and other institutions across the U.K.,” he told reporters.
Entwistle — who has been in his job for less than a month — said the BBC would also investigate why a report on Savile by its “Newsnight” program was dropped at the last minute in December for what the broadcaster called “editorial reasons.”
The allegations against Savile were eventually aired in a documentary broadcast earlier this month on the rival ITV channel.
The British government said it would hold its own investigation into how Savile was appointed to lead a taskforce overseeing management restructuring at Broadmoor psychiatric hospital in the 1980s. Former patients at the hospital have claimed Savile abused them.
“In hindsight he should very obviously not have been appointed,” the Department of Health said in a statement.
Savile, known for his platinum hair, garish tracksuits, chunky gold jewelry and ever-present cigars, was a fixture on British TV between the 1960s and the 1990s as host of music show “Top of the Pops” and children’s program “Jim’ll Fix It.”
He was knighted by both Queen Elizabeth II and the Vatican for his charity work, but his reputation has been in free-fall since the abuse allegations were made public. Last week his family removed the headstone from his grave in Scarborough, northeastern England, and destroyed it, “out of respect for public opinion.”
The granite tombstone bore the words “It was good while it lasted.”
BBC denies cover-up over host abuse claims
Posted Tue Oct 2, 2012 8:36am AEST
By Europe correspondent Mary Gearin, wires
Photo: Sir Jimmy Savile’s family says it’s disgusted the claims have been made when he can’t defend himself. (Getty: Matthew Lewis)
The BBC has denied it has engaged in a cover-up over allegations the late Sir Jimmy Savile, a famed television and radio presenter, sexually abused young girls.
Savile was one of the biggest stars on British radio and television from the 1960s to the 1980s.
He presented the UK’s Top Of The Pops and was well known for his fundraising for charities for which he was knighted.
He died last year aged 84.
A documentary is due to air on British channel ITV this week alleging he molested young girls at hospitals, schools and BBC buildings.
The program includes contributions from several women who claim to have been sexually assaulted by the eccentric DJ and presenter when they were underage.
Police have confirmed Savile was questioned by authorities in 2007.
The BBC says it has found no evidence of abuse taking place on its premises and has defended the decision not to broadcast similar allegations in a current affairs show last year, saying the story could not be substantiated.
Savile’s nephew, Roger Foster, says the family is disgusted and disappointed the allegations have been made when he cannot defend himself.
“The guy hasn’t been dead for a year yet and they’re bringing these stories out,” he said.
“It could affect his legacy, his charity work, everything. I’m very sad and disgusted.
“I just don’t understand the motives behind this.”
An ITV spokesman said the program took “full account of the fact that Sir Jimmy is not here to defend himself against these claims”.
“This documentary is the result of an in-depth investigation into long-standing allegations of serious and widespread sexual misconduct,” the spokesman said.
ITV said the documentary makes the case that Savile abused teenagers who were invited to appear on his shows, including at the BBC Television Centre in London and in his Rolls-Royce car.
The broadcaster said it included statements from a woman who said she was raped by Savile and another who said she was asked to perform a sex act.
DJ Paul Gambaccini, a former colleague at BBC Radio 1, said Savile used his fundraising, notably for a children’s hospital, as a way to prevent his private life being exposed.
He told an ITV program on Monday that on one occasion a newspaper put allegations to Savile, who, Gambaccini says, said: “‘Well, you could run that story, but… do you want to be responsible for the drying up of the charity donations?’ And they backed down.”
The BBC responded to reports that inappropriate behaviour by Savile was an “open secret” at the corporation by saying it found no evidence of any misconduct.