'The Jimmy Savile crisis? I don't have the time to do this': BBC report reveals chaos and paralysis in handling allegations - TV & Radio - Media - The Independent

Pollard inquiry

'The Jimmy Savile crisis? I don't have the time to do this': BBC report reveals chaos and paralysis in handling allegations

Director-General's rationale for inaction on reports of abuse laid bare by Pollard transcripts as Corporation faces fresh questions over how PRs changed Newsnight blog

The chaos and paralysis that beset the BBC's most senior executives during the Jimmy Savile crisis has been laid bare in excruciating detail.

When the journalists with evidence of Savile's sex crimes approached the then-Director-General George Entwistle directly to warn him that the Corporation was misleading the public, he decided: “I don't have time to do this – I've got a lot of other things to do.” Rather than ask his Director of News, Helen Boaden, what had happened in her division, Mr Entwistle told investigators afterwards that he was “very much alive to the notion of not sticking my nose into her business”.

The BBC Trust chairman Lord Patten has accused his senior colleagues of deliberately misleading him over the official account they gave the public about the Savile scandal, which had been repeatedly edited and approved by the BBC's spin doctors and executives.

The 3,000 pages of evidence released today showed that the furious BBC Trust chairman accused his colleagues of deliberately using him as a conduit to feed the public false information about why Newsnight's Savile exposé was axed. “I am pretty convinced that people knew the blog [explanation] was incorrect,” he told the Pollard review into the BBC's mishandling of the crisis. “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.”

The blog was presented to readers of the BBC website as a piece of editorial content, independently written by the editor of Newsnight, Peter Rippon, and explaining his personal decision to withhold the programme's investigation into Savile's past as a sex offender. Three weeks later, the blog was found to be “inaccurate or incomplete”.

Evidence released yesterday from the Pollard review shows that the Rippon blog was in fact a corporate composition, with amendments to Mr Rippon's original draft made by the BBC head of corporate public affairs, Andrew Scadding, the director of public affairs, Paul Mylrea, and the head of communications at BBC News, Paddy Feeney. The blog was then “signed off” by both Helen Boaden, director of BBC News and her deputy, Stephen Mitchell.

Under questioning at the Pollard inquiry, Mr Entwistle said: “I would never want the press office to get involved in journalism under any circumstances.” Asked if that meant that Rippon's piece was “not journalism”, he responded: “I think there is a sense in which it isn't journalism because it is about the workings of the BBC.” Mr Rippon also told the review that the editor's blog was “corporate” and that the press office was involved. But Mr Mylrea told the review that the blog was strictly “an editorial product”, insisting: “I can make stylistic suggestions but they can be refused.”

The BBC yesterday released documents relating to the review, conducted late last year by Nick Pollard, the former head of Sky News. Collectively they portrayed a BBC management that was obsessed with procedures and utterly incapable of getting to basic truths. The organisation's executives mistrusted their own journalists who had done the work on the ground and were desperate to cover their backs.

The most scathing descriptions of the BBC's failures were put forward by the Newsnight presenter Jeremy Paxman who described the episode as a “balls up” and the BBC's repeated failure to run the Savile story as “pathetic”. He was damning of the apparent determination of BBC management to make Mr Rippon the fall guy for the whole affair: “I think the BBC's behaviour now is almost as contemptible as it was then.”

As it tried to manage the crisis, the BBC grandly styled itself in terms of the Cabinet Office Briefing Room (COBR) at a moment of national peril. Mr Entwistle appointed himself Gold Commander, with deputies given the rank of silver and bronze. But in reality that management team – described by Lord Patten in evidence released yesterday as having “more senior leaders than China” – was chaotic and “faffing about”, as the BBC Trust chairman put it.

News
John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
News
peopleThe report and photo dedicated to the actress’s decolletage has, unsurprisingly, provoked anger
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig believed to be donning skies as 007 for first time
Sport
footballThe latest scores and news from Dortmund vs Arsenal and Liverpool vs Ludogorets
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Voices
Yes supporters gather outside the Usher Hall, which is hosting a Night for Scotland in Edinburgh
voicesBen Judah: Is there a third option for England and Scotland that keeps everyone happy?
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape
music
Life and Style
techCriminals now targeting e-readers
Life and Style
tech
Life and Style
tech... and together they're worth at least £100 million
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
Life and Style
fashion
Travel
news This video may make you think twice about ever taking the Tube again
Life and Style
A spider is seen in its web on September 16, 2014 in Hohen Meissner, Germany.
tech The 'Spider in Da House' app has been developed by scientists to tackle arachnophobia
Life and Style
fashionIncredibly, it hasn't been branded 'Will.eye.am'
News
A plane flies close to the eruption of the Icelandic volcano
newsAnd yes, it's quite something
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

Head of Marketing - London

Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Interim Head of Marketing / Marketing Manager / Dig...

Brand Manager / Account Manager

£28 - 36k (DOE): Guru Careers: A Brand Manager / Senior Account Manager is nee...

Sales Executive

£20 - 24k (Uncapped Commission - £35k Year 1 OTE): Guru Careers: We are seekin...

Director of Programming and Industry Engagement

£40k - £50k depending on experience: Sheffield Doc/Fest: Sheffield Doc/Fest is...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week