BBC 'knew of Savile claims months ago but didn't tell police'

 

Senior BBC executives knew months ago that two of its stars were alleged to have sexually assaulted two underage teenage girls at Television Centre, but did not make police aware until last week, it was claimed last night.

A well-placed source in the BBC's newsroom also claimed Newsnight editor Peter Rippon axed the story after being "leaned on" from above, a claim he denies.

Last night the BBC faced further criticism amid claims that Mark Thompson, its then director-general, decided to run three tribute programmes for Savile over the Christmas period, despite being warned by an angry senior journalist about the potential consequences of axing the Newsnight investigation.

The corporation has been under pressure to explain why it did not run the Newsnight piece after ITV broadcast the claims in a programme last week Ω prompting more than 40 alleged victims to come forward.

But, the source said, the allegations of a sexual assault by Jimmy Savile and pop star Gary Glitter on the girls in the 1970s were known about by the BBC for months: "They knew for a long time but only now has the BBC seen fit to respond... more should have been done. "

The investigation by Newsnight journalists was due for transmission around 9 December last year but was shelved by Mr Rippon after he was told the Crown Prosecution Service had dropped an investigation into Savile, citing lack of evidence. But, the source claimed, it was axed needlessly. "The Newsnight investigation unearthed the fact there had been one [police investigation] but it was looking into the claims from Duncroft [the school where some of the allegations against Savile originated] and it took in Gary Glitter and the BBC premises line," they said. "It was strong enough. "

The source added. "Of course he [Mr Rippon] was leaned on, it is incredible to think he wasn't. But there is also probably a degree of him saying to bosses 'we don't really have a story, don't worry'. It was a sort of self-censorship. It wasn't as simple as someone on high saying kill the story."

Following the cancellation, a journalist cornered Mr Thompson, who was at that time unaware of the row, at Christmas drinks. "Thompson didn't have any decision in dropping the story, but he did know obviously that the tributes were going ahead. It appears Thompson didn't go to any trouble to make inquiries," said the source.

The source added: "One part of the BBC was making hugely expensive tribute programmes while another part was making quite serious allegations about the person. The facts speak for themselves."

Last night the BBC said that senior bosses "had no influence whatsoever over the decision to drop the Newsnight investigation. The decision was taken solely by the editor of that programme. He has explained fully in his blog that the investigation could not reach the standard of proof needed to broadcast. One person had been interviewed on camera by that time, and we believed that the police were aware of the allegations against Jimmy that the programme had heard."

The BBC added that it had "no record of criminal behaviour" about this in its records.

Life and Style
Small winemakers say the restriction makes it hard to sell overseas
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
A comedy show alumni who has gone on to be a big star, Jon Stewart
tvRival television sketch shows vie for influential alumni
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Hope Fletcher
booksFirst video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
News
Clare Balding
peopleClare Balding on how women's football is shaking up sport
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
Damien Hirst
artCoalition's anti-culture policy and cuts in local authority spending to blame, says academic
Sport
premier leagueMatch report: Arsenal 1 Man United 2
Arts and Entertainment
Kirk Cameron is begging his Facebook fans to give him positive reviews
film
News
i100
Sport
Jonny May scores for England
rugby unionEngland 28 Samoa 9: Wing scores twice to help England record their first win in six
Life and Style
fashionThe Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Arts and Entertainment
Jason goes on a special mission for the queen
tvReview: Everyone loves a CGI Cyclops and the BBC's Saturday night charmer is getting epic
Arts and Entertainment
Jerry Hall (Hand out press photograph provided by jackstanley@theambassadors.com)
theatre
Sport
Tony Bellew (left) and Nathan Cleverly clash at the Echo Arena in Liverpool
boxingLate surge sees Liverpudlian move into world title contention
Voices
Neil Findlay
voicesThe vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Life and Style
food + drinkMeat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible
Look what's mushrooming now! Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector

Look what's mushrooming now!

Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
Neil Findlay is more a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

More a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

The vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Tenderstem broccoli omelette; Fried eggs with Mexican-style tomato and chilli sauce; Pan-fried cavolo nero with soft-boiled egg

Oeuf quake

Bill Granger's cracking egg recipes
Terry Venables: Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back

Terry Venables column

Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back
Michael Calvin: Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Those at the top are allowing the same issues to go unchallenged, says Michael Calvin