New York Times columnist attacks former BBC head Mark Thompson over Savile - even though he's due to be the new boss

 

Further doubts have been expressed about whether former BBC director-general Mark Thompson is a suitable figure to take over as the new chief executive of the New York Times (NYT) in an opinion piece published by the paper.

He is due to take over next month, but concerns have already been raised about his appointment in the wake of the Jimmy Savile scandal.

Just last week the newspaper's public editor Margaret Sullivan, whose role is to oversee standards, questioned Mr Thompson's claim that he had not been formally told of a Newsnight investigation into Savile's activities, which was eventually shelved.

NYT columnist Joe Nocera said in the paper today that Mr Thompson appeared "wilfully ignorant" of the issues and questioned what sort of an organisation the BBC was under his command. He added there was "plainly" a cover-up.

There have been repeated suggestions, which the corporation denies, that the BBC pulled the Newsnight probe because it had already lined up tribute programmes to the late TV and radio presenter.

An inquiry is being undertaken, led by former Sky News chief Nick Pollard, into the decision-making process over the dropped investigation. Police are also investigating Savile's activities and he is now believed to have been of the UK's most prolific abusers, with around 300 possible victims.

Questioning his role, Nocera wrote in the New York Times: "Thompson now says that at a cocktail party last December, a BBC reporter said to him, 'You must be worried about the Newsnight investigation into Jimmy Savile.

"Soon thereafter, Thompson asked his underlings about the investigation and was told that it had been killed - for journalistic reasons. He claims to have inquired no further, not even to ask what the investigation was about."

Mr Thompson stepped down from his post as director-general last month and his successor George Entwistle was engulfed in the scandal just days into the job.

Sullivan said of Mr Thompson last week: "It's worth considering now whether he is the right person for the job, given this turn of events."

A further inquiry is being carried out into the "culture and practices" of the BBC during the years Savile worked there, led by Dame Janet Smith.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has said "heads will need to roll" at the BBC if it is discovered that abuse was ignored.

"Serious questions need to be asked and if after we find out what's happened, it's clear that people have turned a blind eye or, worse still, connived with it then of course they're going to have to be held to account and - if that turns out to be the case - heads will need to roll of course," he told ITV's The Agenda.

Yesterday it emerged that Savile was barred from any involvement with the BBC's Children In Need charity.

Sir Roger Jones, a former chairman of the charity, said he had been uncomfortable about allowing Savile to have any association with their work.

Although he had "no evidence" that Savile was up to anything, he said he behaved strangely, adding: "I think we all recognised he was a pretty creepy sort of character."

And Britain's most senior police officer said if allegations about Jimmy Savile had been linked while he was alive, they would have exposed "a pattern of behaviour".

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe said police and other organisations had not connected a number of separate claims made about Savile's allegedly predatory actions.

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • 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

Guru Careers: PR Account Manager / AM

£20-30K(DOE) + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a PR Account M...

Guru Careers: Account Manager / Account Executive

Competitive (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: One of the UK’s largest and most s...

Guru Careers: Marketing and Communications Manager

£Competitive (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Marketing and Co...

Guru Careers: Digital Designer / Interactive Designer

£ Highly Competitive (DOE): Guru Careers: A Digital Designer / Interactive Des...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
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