BBC Director-General will apologise on air for Savile's abuses

Former patient at Stoke Mandeville Hospital claims nurses knew DJ targeted girls on his 'ward rounds'

The BBC Director-General will be required to make a formal on-screen apology for the corporation's role in facilitating Sir Jimmy Savile's predatory abuse of young girls, Lord Patten said.

The BBC Trust chairman said George Entwistle, the newly appointed Director-General, would make a prime-time apology to the nation over allegations the TV personality used rooms at BBC Television Centre to assault underage girls. But heads could roll – possibly including Entwistle – if an independent inquiry commissioned by the BBC criticises any current executives for failing to act on the claims.

Describing the affair as a "cesspit of allegations," Lord Patten has also told Entwistle to ensure the BBC's child protection policies are "gold standard". The BBC will put in place a new charter to protect staff from sexual harassment and bullying, and ensure that whistle-blowers receive protection if the current procedures are found to be wanting, Lord Patten promised.

The commitments were announced as Greater Manchester Police said it had become the latest force to receive complaints of abuse by Savile. The claims date back to the 1960s. The Metropolitan Police is pursuing 120 lines of inquiry involving rape and sexual abuse.

In a further development, it was claimed last night that Savile went on "ward rounds" to Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Buckinghamshire to find girls to abuse. Staff were said to have told girls in children's wards to "pretend to be asleep" during his visits.

Rebecca Owen, a former patient at the hospital, told BBC News that nurses knew about Savile's behaviour and did not welcome his visits. In the 1970s he began volunteering as a porter there and had use of a flat on site. "There was some sort of ironic chatter between the nurses about who would go off to his room," Ms Owen said.

Speaking to the Broadcasting Press Guild, Lord Patten said the revelations had been "appalling" for the BBC. He said: "When we know where all the bodies live and if I thought it would be a good idea to apologise in the most formal and public way for what has been established then yes, I'm sure George Entwistle will be on television. I'm sure we should (apologise)."

Lord Patten said the BBC would launch its own inquiry into the Savile affair, headed by an independent figure who carries "credibility with the nation", as soon as the Met informs the Corporation that the investigation would not compromise its own inquiries.

The inquiry could claim senior BBC figures. "You would not expect any employee of a newspaper (for example) to survive if he or she was found to have behaved improperly," Lord Patten said.

The peer, who said he first knew of the claims when ITV began to preview its documentary, strongly denied that any pressure had been placed upon the editor of Newsnight, when the current affairs programme dropped its investigation.

Lord Patten gave his backing to Entwistle, who in his previous role as the BBC's head of Television, had known about the Newsnight investigation but went ahead with glowing tribute shows to Savile after his death. Entwistle had shown that he could not be "leant upon" when he was Newsnight editor and resisted pressure to reveal his sources during the row over the death of Dr David Kelly, Patten said.

Although Savile was feted by Margaret Thatcher, Lord Patten, a former Conservative cabinet minister, said "I always thought Jimmy Savile was a pretty odd customer".

Savile's elaborate headstone at the Woodlands Cemetery in Scarborough, North Yorkshire, was removed at midnight on Tuesday out of respect for those with relatives in the graveyard.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm tomorrow
Arts and Entertainment
James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Patagonia Special
tv
News
Claudia Winkleman and co-host Tess Daly at the Strictly Come Dancing final
people
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
news
News
Elton John and David Furnish will marry on 21 December 2014
peopleSinger posts pictures of nuptials throughout the day
Sport
SPORT
Life and Style
A still from the 1939 film version of Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone with the Wind'
life
Arts and Entertainment
J Jefferson Farjeon at home in 1953
booksBooksellers say readers are turning away from modern thrillers and back to golden age of crime writing
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick