'It was common gossip Jimmy Savile liked young girls'

In this series of damning interviews, the BBC inquiry reveals the full  extent of managers’ paralysis in the  face of the Jimmy Savile scandal

Peter Rippon

Then Newsnight Editor

Asked why he had felt so “lukewarm” about running the sensational investigation into some of Jimmy Savile's sex crimes, Mr Rippon said: “It was a combination of a feeling in my stomach that these stories … can be very difficult to pull off … and doing it so soon after his death was going to compound that.

“I felt that you need to be careful in the climate immediately after somebody's death about doing these kinds of stories... There are often difficulties with the strength of testimony … They are not easy to land and Newsnight is not a programme that has a massive amount of resources, so if you are going to jump into something you need to be – to think carefully about what kind of outcome you are likely to get.”

On the notoriously inaccurate blog that appeared under his name, which misled the public about the Newsnight investigation into Savile's crimes, Rippon said:

“Since Hutton there is a very strict compliance process around anything which is published by editors in the BBC's name. So … any blog that I write has to be signed off by my line manager and agreed by the press department… I'm not allowed to publish anything written in the form of a blog without it being signed off corporately.”

Helen Boaden

Then Director of BBC News

“Since this, I think, was about three weeks after Jimmy Savile had died I thought it was one of those slightly tabloid-esque stories involving groupies.

“I took the strong impression from my conversation with Steve [Mitchell, her deputy head of news] that actually this was smoke without fire largely. And I think I was affected in this by the assumption that stuff like this comes out when celebrities die, which may be wrong on my part, but I think that had to some extent conditioned the way I saw it.”

On her conversation with the Newsnight editor about its planned exposé of Savile's sex crimes: “The thing that was always critical for me in this very short conversation was that because Jimmy Savile was dead was not a reason for lowering what I regard as BBC editorial standards.”

Liz MacKean

Newsnight Reporter

MacKean claims in her evidence that Newsnight deputy editor Liz Gibbons “said to Meirion [Jones], 'I don't want to piss off Danny Cohen', the controller of BBC1. So that clearly indicated that she was, you know, seeing which way the wind was blowing and realising there was going to be a big fuss.

“These were such serious claims about a public figure involving the BBC – I mean that was clearly a huge thing, not just that he had been a BBC employee but he had actually operated on BBC premises.

“It was killed. In that way it was unlike the normal approach to stories... Generally, if you are not there with a story you keep going.

“I was very unhappy about the blog, which I regarded as a completely false account of events and total misleading of the public.”

Jeremy Paxman

Newsnight Presenter

“I think it is very unfair, and frankly not at all untypical, that the BBC has dumped all this on one individual [Peter Rippon]. I think the BBC's behaviour now is almost as contemptible as it was then.

“We wouldn't even tackle a bloody story that was about our own programme. This is pathetic.

“It was, I would say, common gossip that Jimmy Savile liked, you know, young – it was always assumed to be girls. I don't know whether it was girls or boys.

“These people [paedophiles] prey upon children in vulnerable situations and when the children complain they are not believed. I thought that we [Newsnight] had behaved just like many other authorities and I didn't like it.”

Lord Patten

Chairman of the BBC Trust

“I am pretty convinced that people knew the blog was incorrect... It does seem to me that there are reasonable grounds for assuming that people knew the blog was dodgy a lot earlier and we were left defending something which wasn't true.”

Patten, the last British Governor of Hong Kong, said: “It wasn't just a joke when I went to speak to the senior leaders group in the BBC and said they had more senior leaders than China.”

Jan Younghusband

BBC Commissioning Editor

Email to George Entwistle: “I gather we didn't prepare the obit [obituary on Jimmy Savile] because of the darker side of the story.”

George Entwistle

Then director-General

“The thing I had in mind was, 'I don't have time to do this, I've got a lot of other things to do, I need somebody good to find out what is going on'.

“The extent of my knowledge of questions about Savile was given to me by the Louis Theroux portrait of 2000.

“The reason I didn't talk to Meirion and Liz [Newsnight investigative reporters Meirion Jones and Liz MacKean] myself was that I already thought, 'I can see this ending up in disciplinary action here.'

“It started to be apparent to me that the relationships had broken down on the programme and what I wondered was [Peter] Rippon could be right that these two people could be making a tremendous amount of trouble for him.”

Meirion Jones

Newsnight Reporter

“You shouldn't put out tittle-tattle about people just because they are dead. But in this case the very fact that he had been investigated on paedophile charges by the police would have been front page in its own right.

“I thought the whole thing was going to come out ... us just going to the police with bits and bobs would be nothing compared to once it came out properly it would get huge coverage, and so on, and you'd get lots of people coming forward.”

Censored: what the viewers said

Detailed accusations about Jimmy Savile's sex crimes were censored after viewers tried to post them on a BBC tribute web page.

One person wrote: "One of my best friends in 1972 was molested by this creep Savile. He was never the same again. Killed himself in 1985. How's About That Then? Good riddance, I say. All his good works were the product of his guilty conscience."

The comments were prevented from being published by a team of moderators employed by the corporation. They did not refer the comments to anyone at the BBC for investigation.

A transcript of an interview between Mr Pollard and the former Director-General George Entwistle refers to examples of the comments, including one person who wrote: "He was a paedophile. You may not like the truth but he was." Another wrote: "Sorry to rain on the parade of all the well-wishers, but he was infamous in Scarborough. I would not have been letting my son sit on his knee."

Another website comment read: "Awful sentimental tosh for someone who should have been locked up for child molesting back in '72."

During his interview, Mr Entwistle said he thought moderators may have been affected by "anxiety" after details of a hoax, which claimed Savile had been challenged about his crimes on an episode of Have I Got News For You, were published online. But Mr Entwistle said he thought it was "unusual" that the moderators had not referred the allegations to anyone at the BBC.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
sportSo, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Arts and Entertainment
Dennis speaks to his French teacher
tvThe Boy in the Dress, TV review
One father who couldn't get One Direction tickets for his daughters phoned in a fake bomb threat and served eight months in a federal prison
people... (and one very unlucky giraffe)
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
The Plaza Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia was one of the 300 US cinemas screening
filmTim Walker settles down to watch the controversial gross-out satire
Arts and Entertainment
Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz in Tim Burton's Big Eyes
film reviewThis is Tim Burton’s most intimate and subtle film for a decade
Life and Style
Mark's crab tarts are just the right size
food + drinkMark Hix cooks up some snacks that pack a punch
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Ashdown Group: Brand Marketing Manager - Essex - £45,000 + £5000 car allowance

£40000 - £45000 per annum + car allowance: Ashdown Group: Senior Brand Manager...

Guru Careers: .NET Developer /.NET Software Developer

£26 - 35k (DOE): Guru Careers: We are seeking a .NET Developer /.NET Software ...

Guru Careers: Graduate Marketing Analyst / Online Marketing Exec (SEO / PPC)

£18 - 24k (DOE): Guru Careers: A Graduate Marketing Analyst / Online Marketing...

Guru Careers: Technical Operations Manager

£Neg. (DOE) + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Technical Ope...

Day In a Page

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
Sports Quiz of the Year

Sports Quiz of the Year

So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect