BBC launches 'freestanding investigation' into behaviour of disgraced ex-star Stuart Hall

The inquiry will be separate from Dame Janet Smith's investigation into Jimmy Savile's crimes

The BBC has made a sudden U-turn over its decision not to hold a separate internal inquiry into the disgraced presenter Stuart Hall, who last week admitted to indecently assaulting 13 girls.

The organisation was criticised after it said it would only look at the matter as part of an ongoing review led by Dame Janet Smith into the culture and practices which allowed Jimmy Savile’s activities at the BBC to go undetected. Lord Patten, chairman of the BBC Trust, told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show on Sunday that holding a separate inquiry into Hall would “probably delay arriving at the truth”.

But yesterday the BBC took a different position. “In light of a potential conflict of interest with Dame Janet Smith there will be a separate and parallel fact-finding inquiry covering Stuart Hall’s conduct at the BBC,” it said. “This work will be led by a different individual to be agreed by the BBC and its results will be incorporated into the review’s overall conclusions.” BBC News said yesterday that it understood Dame Janet knows someone who has been named in press reports in relation to Hall.

Rob Wilson, a Conservative MP who had attacked the BBC for not holding a separate inquiry, last night criticised the BBC chairman’s leadership. “Only yesterday he said no new investigation, today it has changed. I had hoped something would have been learned from the Savile debacle,” he said.