Savile Scandal:

BBC Savile probe puts Entwistle under new pressure

Panorama report claims that Director-General was warned of nature of investigation

The BBC's Director-General, George Entwistle, was facing questions about his judgement last night after it emerged that he chose to broadcast a tribute to Jimmy Savile despite being warned by senior executives that it was compromised by a Newsnight investigation into the DJ's sex abuse.

The extent of Mr Entwistle's knowledge of the shelved investigation is revealed in an explosive BBC Panorama documentary to be aired tonight.

John Simpson, the BBC foreign editor, described the scandal engulfing the Corporation as "the worst crisis that I can remember in my nearly 50 years at the BBC".

The Panorama programme also reveals that reporters working on the Savile story believed that Newsnight's editor Peter Rippon was under pressure from the highest echelons of the Corporation to abandon their probe. Mr Entwistle is also accused of misleading the public by subsequently claiming that the ditched investigation had focused on Surrey Police's inquiry into Savile, rather than the sex abuse allegations themselves.

The Panorama special, which screens tonight at 10.35pm, claims Helen Boaden, the BBC director of news, warned Mr Entwistle about the investigation and its possible impact on planned tributes to Savile.

During the conversation in December 2011, when Mr Entwistle was director of vision, Ms Boaden said that if the Newsnight investigation went ahead he might have to change the Christmas schedules.
 

But despite the conversation, which lasted "less than 10 seconds", the tribute programmes were still aired, without mention of the child abuse claims.

The BBC rushed tonight's Panorama special into the schedules, dropping the planned edition that was to focus on gambling.

It exposes the anger of those working on the Newsnight investigation at Mr Entwistle's public statement that it had focused on Surrey Police's inquiry. He made the claim on 5 October, while explaining why the BBC had not published the sex abuse allegations later exposed by ITV. Meirion Jones, the Newsnight producer, immediately emailed Mr Entwistle to say: "George – one note – the investigation was into whether Jimmy Savile was a paedophile – I know because it was my investigation. We didn't know that Surrey Police had investigated Jimmy Savile – no one did – that was what we found when we investigated and interviewed his victims."

Mr Entwistle is to face MPs tomorrow at a Culture, Media and Sport Committee. Neither he nor Ms Boaden, along with a series of senior members of the team, responded to questions from Panorama.

Liz MacKean, a reporter who worked on the Newsnight story, said: "Ever since the decision was taken to shelve our story I've not been happy with public statements made by the BBC. I think they're very misleading about the nature of the investigation we were doing."

The Newsnight journalists claim they were close to a transmission date when they were halted by editor Peter Rippon. They claim that after a positive response from Mr Rippon he went cold overnight.

Ms MacKean said she believed he was being pressured from above, and emailed a friend saying: "PR [Peter Rippon] says if the bosses aren't happy... [he] can't go to the wall on this one."

Mr Rippon has maintained the programme was pulled for "editorial reasons" and not an embarrassing clash with planned tributes. Confusion surrounded his position last night when the Daily Mail reported that he had resigned – only for a startled BBC press office to flatly deny this.

Veteran foreign affairs journalist John Simpson told Panorama: "This is the worst crisis that I can remember in my nearly 50 years at the BBC." A BBC spokesman said: "The BBC has confirmed it has launched an independent review led by former head of Sky News, Nick Pollard, which will cover these questions."

Crisis unfolds: Savile affair

28 September Allegations made by 10 women accusing Jimmy Savile of sexual abuse and paedophilia during his BBC career come to light as ITV announces it will air a documentary into his behaviour

2 October Peter Rippon, the editor of Newsnight who dropped an investigation into Savile months earlier, denies a BBC cover-up or withholding facts from the police, saying the report was pulled due to a lack of evidence

3 October ITV airs its documentary, Exposure: The Other Side of Jimmy Savile

8 October The BBC Director-General, George Entwistle, says the BBC will not hold an inquiry into Savile's behaviour while working for the Corporation as it would interfere with police investigations

12 October Mr Entwistle makes a U-turn by announcing two separate BBC inquiries, one into Savile's behaviour and one into Newsnight

21 October Newsnight is alleged to have come under pressure from senior management to drop its earlier Savile investigation, as Panorama prepares to air its own report tonight

Suggested Topics
News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Sport
Danny Welbeck's Manchester United future is in doubt
footballStriker in talks over £17m move from Manchester United
Sport
Louis van Gaal, Radamel Falcao, Arturo Vidal, Mats Hummels and Javier Hernandez
footballFalcao, Hernandez, Welbeck and every deal live as it happens
Sport
footballFeaturing Bart Simpson
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
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
Sport
Andy Murray celebrates a shot while playing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
TennisWin sets up blockbuster US Open quarter-final against Djokovic
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
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’
boksUnlike '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?

Day In a Page

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
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor