Email trail: What the BBC bosses really knew

 

On 29 May 2010, Nick Vaughan-Barratt sent an email to George Entwistle (then the BBC’s Controller of Knowledge Commissioning):

“George, I understand jimmy [Savile] is very ill. We have no obit and I am not sure we would want one. What do you think.

“I have a personal interest here: my first job in TV was on a JS show – I know him well and saw the complex and sometimes conflicting nature of the man at first hand – if you know what I mean! Do you have an opinion? Mine is ironic, flawed and fascinating. But all a long time ago!”

He later said: “I’d feel v queasy about an obit. I saw the real truth!!!..”

Mr Entwistle was sent another email, this time by the BBC executive Jan Younghusband, saying:

“I gather we didn’t prepare the obit because of the darker side of the story. So something celebrating a particular part of his TV career is probably better than the [life] story as there are aspects of this which are hard to tell.”

Jeremy Paxman emailed Peter Rippon after ITV ran with Newsnight ’s dropped Savile investigation:

“I have to say, I think we make a problem for ourselves by running away from this story.

1. It’s everywhere.

2. It raises questions about the way in which the claims of child abuse victims are treated.

3. It raises serious questions about journalistic ethics – different burdens of proof for the living and the dead – which are slap-bang in our terrain.

4. We have a locus on the story, which needs explaining if we’re going to lay the ‘patsy’ accusation.

5. We have our own journalism. Even though we’d be very late starting on it, can I ask you to reconsider?”

Mr Rippon replied:

“I guess I may be guilty of self-censorship. In the end I just felt what we had … Forty year old contestable claims about a dead guy was not a NN story and not worth the fuss.”

Mr Paxman claimed that dropping the investigation into Savile “must have been a corporate decision (whatever your blog says)” – an accusation Mr Pollard rejected.

23 November: The Deputy Director  of BBC News, Stephen Mitchell, referred to the tribute programmes and said that his boss, Helen Boaden, ought to alert Mr Entwistle to the Newsnight investigation as a “kindness to George to tip him off early because he would have to change the [Christmas] schedule if the investigation went ahead as we thought it would. And he could start thinking about that earlier rather than later”.

Ms Boaden regarded this as “perfectly sensible”.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
Books should be for everyone, says Els, 8. Publisher Scholastic now agrees
booksAn eight-year-old saw a pirate book was ‘for boys’ and took on the publishers
Life and Style
Mary Beard received abuse after speaking positively on 'Question Time' about immigrant workers: 'When people say ridiculous, untrue and hurtful things, then I think you should call them out'
tech
Life and Style
Most mail-order brides are thought to come from Thailand, the Philippines and Romania
life
News
i100
Life and Style
tech
Voices
Margaret Thatcher, with her director of publicity Sir Gordon Reece, who helped her and the Tory Party to victory in 1979
voicesThe subject is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for former PR man DJ Taylor
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Urgent Requirement - Central Manchester

£20000 - £23000 per annum + 20 days holidays & pension: Ashdown Group: Marketi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Guru Careers: Social Media Executive / SEO Executive

£20 - 25K + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Social Media...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions