BBC Boss 'Didn't Know'about Savile

Article excerpt

Byline: Tom Kelly and Liz Thomas

MARK Thompson yesterday made the extraordinary claim that he knew nothing about Sir Jimmy Savile's alleged abuse of teenage girls at any time during his eight years as Director General of the BBC.

Mr Thompson, who stood down last month, broke his silence on the row to insist he had not even heard 'rumours' about the former DJ.

He also insisted did not have any role in the decision to drop a BBC Newsnight investigation into claims Savile sexually assaulted girls as young as 14.

The denial came hours after David Cameron called for the BBC to hold a full internal investigation into the 'truly shocking' allegations, which it has so far resisted. Mr Thompson said: 'I had no involvement whatsoever not to pursue the Newsnight investigation.

I understood that was a decision taken by the Newsnight editor.

'I never heard of any rumours nor received any complaints or allegations (about Jimmy Savile) while I was Director General at the BBC.' But his comments contradict the BBC's own press office which said yesterday that Mr Thompson was told about the Newsnight investigation into Savile early last December.

Mr Thompson's successor, George Entwistle, was also briefed about the story, in his role as head of BBC Vision. The BBC did not even bother to carry out even cursory glance of its files on Savile until August this year when it learnt that ITV was planning to run the same expose.

Mr Entwistle ordered a re-examination of files last week but on Friday ruled out an internal inquiry into the affair - despite dozens of victims coming forward, many of whom say they were abused on BBC premises.

Instead, all complaints are now being referred to Scotland Yard.

After Savile died on October 29 last year, Newsnight spent six weeks investigating allegations that he abused pupils from Duncroft school in Surrey at the height of his fame in the 1970s.

BBC journalists spoke to ten women who claimed they had been abused or had knowledge of abuse at the school, which shut in 1980. …