Nine current BBC workers investigated in sex probe

 

The BBC has said it is investigating nine allegations of “sexual harassment, assault or inappropriate conduct” among current staff and contributors.

The admission comes after director general George Entwistle was urged to "get a grip" on his organisation during a hostile grilling by MPs about the broadcaster's handling of claims of sexual abuse by former presenter Jimmy Savile over several decades.

Mr Entwistle originally said there were "between five and 10 serious allegations" but a subsequent BBC statement said the corporation was "currently aware of nine allegations of sexual harassment, assault or inappropriate conduct regarding current staff or contributors".

"Some of these cases have been passed to the police where appropriate, and we are reviewing others within our normal HR processes and procedures."

Earlier today, Mr Entwistle told the Commons Culture, Media And Sport select committee that Savile's alleged behaviour had been possible only because of a "broader cultural problem" at the BBC.

Opening the hearing, the director general defended the corporation's handling of the case - including setting up two independent investigations.

"I would accept that there have been times when we have taken longer to do things than in a perfect world I would have liked," he said.

"But I think if you looked at what we have achieved since the scale of the crisis became clear, I think you see we have done much of what we should have done and done it in the right order and with proper respect paid to the right authorities."

Mr Entwistle also faced criticism over the decision not to broadcast a Newsnight investigation, including interviews with Savile's victims, last year.

His appearance before the committee came the morning after the BBC's Panorama programme broadcast an investigation into Savile and into the decision to ditch the Newsnight film, at a time when he was head of TV.

Newsnight editor Peter Rippon stepped aside yesterday after the BBC said his explanation of why the show dropped its investigation into Savile was "inaccurate or incomplete".

Mr Entwistle said the scandal raised questions of trust and reputation in the BBC.

He told MPs: "There's no question that what Jimmy Savile did and the way the BBC behaved - the culture and practices of the BBC seemed to allow Jimmy Savile to do what he did - will raise questions of trust for us and reputation for us. There's no question about that.

"It is a gravely serious matter and one cannot look back at it with anything but horror that his activities went on as long as they did undetected.

"Of course, that is a matter of grave regret to me."

Mr Entwistle said the inquiry by Nick Pollard, former head of Sky News, into why the Newsnight investigation into Savile was dropped is expected to report back "in weeks".

He admitted Mr Rippon's blog account was "a matter of regret and embarrassment".

Mr Entwistle told the committee he had ordered an internal audit of the operation of the BBC's child protection policies and would report its results to the BBC Trust in December.

He said: "So far as I have been able to tell so far, Mr Savile prosecuted his disgusting activities in a manner that was very successfully and skilfully concealed.

"Experts in paedophile behaviour have pointed out that this is often the case... People build long-range plans to put them in contact with their targets. These things are institutionally, it seems, very difficult to deal with."

The director-general told MPs he believed the Newsnight investigation into Savile should have continued and said there had been a "breakdown of communication" between Newsnight reporters and the editor and he did not feel "confident" that he could get an explanation over what happened from within the BBC.

Conservative MP Therese Coffey branded "chilling" an email sent by Mr Rippon last November that said "our sources so far are just the women" and questioned whether the culture had really changed at the BBC.

"That phrase, on the face of it, isn't in the least defensible, of course," he said. "I do believe the culture has changed since the Seventies and Eighties but I'm not convinced it has changed as much as it should have."

Mr Entwistle told the committee he had not spoken to any of those involved in preparing the Newsnight film.

He said he felt it was better to operate through the BBC "chain of command", so he could remain an impartial judge of any subsequent disciplinary case, and had left it to head of news Helen Boaden and deputy director of news Stephen Mitchell to deal directly with the programme.

Mr Entwistle said Ms Boaden had spoken to the Newsnight team only briefly during the investigation.

"I understand that Helen's only conversation with Peter in respect of the Newsnight investigation was to remind him that, just because Jimmy Savile was dead, it didn't mean that there could be any skimping in journalistic standards, and that the usual BBC standards would apply," said Mr Entwistle.

Mr Entwistle denied any personal failing, despite being pre-warned that the Newsnight investigation could have an impact on plans to broadcast a television tribute to Savile.

He gave the committee his account of a brief conversation with Ms Boaden in which she alerted him to the potential impact on the scheduled Boxing Day programme.

Pressed by Mr Whittingdale as to what he thought at the time the nature of the allegations against Mr Savile might be, he said: "I don't remember reflecting on it. This was a busy lunch.

"It wasn't that I didn't want to know. What was in my mind was this determination not to show an undue interest."

Conservative committee member Philip Davies said: "It appears that your determination not to show an undue interest applies to everything at the BBC, from today's performance.

"It's not just a lack of curiosity - although it certainly is that - from somebody who has been a journalist, but given that you are putting on these programmes, surely you must have wanted to ask whether or not you can stand something up on Newsnight, is it still appropriate for the BBC to be putting on tribute programmes to this person?"

Asked whether Mr Rippon might have been acting with too much risk-aversion when he decided to pull the Savile story, Mr Entwistle said: "It is important to recognise during a time like this that 95%-plus of what the BBC does is still going on.

"We have a very, very grave and serious issue here that has to be dealt with, but the imperative for the organisation to be creatively and journalistically adventurous is incredibly strong.

"It is something I intend to devote time and focus to, trying to eliminate creative risk-aversion and journalistic risk-aversion if I find it and ensuring we are absolutely as bold as we should be."

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
US comedian Bill Mahr
people
Voices
Winston Churchill, then prime minister, outside No 10 in June 1943
voicesA C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Sport
football
News
Rob Lowe
peopleRob Lowe hits out at Obama's snub of Benjamin Netanyahu
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
Davies (let) says: 'Everybody thought we were having an affair. It was never true!'
people'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Arts and Entertainment
Over their 20 years, the band has built a community of dedicated followers the world over
music
News
Staff assemble outside the old City Road offices in London
mediaThe stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century at Britain's youngest paper
Life and Style
The Oliver twins, Philip and Andrew, at work creating the 'Dizzy' arcade-adventure games in 1988
techDocumentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Arts and Entertainment
Krall says: 'My hero player-singer is Elton John I used to listen to him as a child, every single record
music
News
Friends for life … some professionals think loneliness is more worrying than obesity
scienceSocial contact is good for our sense of wellbeing - but it's a myth that loneliness kills, say researchers
Arts and Entertainment
The Wu-Tang Clan will sell only one copy of their album Once Upon A Time In Shaolin
musicWu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own only copies of their latest albums
News
i100
Environment
Number so freshwater mussels in Cumbria have plummeted from up to three million in the 20th century to 500,000
environment
Life and Style
Models – and musicians – on the catwalk in Dior Homme for the men’s 2015/16 fashion show in Paris
fashionAt this season's Paris shows, various labels played with the city boys' favourite
News
i100
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

Sauce Recruitment: Programme Sales Executive - Independent Distributor

£25000 - £28000 per annum + circa 28K + 20% bonus opportunity: Sauce Recruitme...

SThree: Talent Acquisition Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: Are you an ambitious, money mot...

Guru Careers: Investment Writer / Stock Picker

Competitive (DOE): Guru Careers: A freelance Investment Writer / Stock Picker ...

Guru Careers: PPC Account Executive / Paid Search Executive

£20 - 24K + Benefits: Guru Careers: An enthusiastic PPC Account / Paid Search ...

Day In a Page

Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

Pinstriped for action

A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

Michael Calvin's Last Word

How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us