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
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Sport
Danny Welbeck's Manchester United future is in doubt
footballGunners confirm signing from Manchester United
Sport
footballStriker has moved on loan for the remainder of the season
Sport
footballFeaturing Bart Simpson
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman topped the list of the 30 most influential females in broadcasting
tv
News
Kelly Brook
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
News
The five geckos were launched into space to find out about the effects of weightlessness on the creatures’ sex lives
i100
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Sport
Andy Murray celebrates a shot while playing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
TennisWin sets up blockbuster US Open quarter-final against Djokovic
Arts and Entertainment
Hare’s a riddle: Kit Williams with the treasure linked to Masquerade
booksRiddling trilogy could net you $3m
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
News
news Video - hailed as 'most original' since Benedict Cumberbatch's
News
i100
Life and Style
The longer David Sedaris had his Fitbit, the further afield his walks took him through the West Sussex countryside
lifeDavid Sedaris: What I learnt from my fitness tracker about the world
Arts and Entertainment
Word master: Self holds up a copy of his novel ‘Umbrella’
booksUnlike 'talented mediocrity' George Orwell, you must approach this writer dictionary in hand
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

Marketing Executive / Member Services Exec

£20 - 26k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Marketing Executive / Member Services Ex...

Trend Writer / Copywriter

£25 - 30k (DOE): Guru Careers: A Trend Writer / Copywriter: Retail, Design and...

Business Development Manager / Media Sales Exec

£28 - 32k + Uncapped Commission: Guru Careers: A Business Development Manager ...

Digital Marketing Assistant

£17 - 27k: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Digital Marketing Assistant to join ...

Day In a Page

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering