The BBC is facing another wave of criticism over the Jimmy Savile scandal following claims that 1,000 people may have been abused.
A review by Dame Janet Smith, due to be published later this year, has spoken to hundreds of witnesses and victims of the children’s television presenter, including 138 people who have so far come forward to pursue civil claims for compensation.
Those close to the inquiry suggest that up to 1,000 people could have fallen victim to Savile’s sexual abuses over 50 years.
Some BBC staff reportedly simply turned a blind eye to his offending, it is also claimed.
Peter Saunders, the chief executive of the National Association for People Abused in Childhood, which has been consulted on the inquiry, said: “I think the 1,000 figure is based on 50 years of him offending.
“It has been said that he didn’t have a quiet day in his life. There wasn’t a day when he wasn’t up to something, so 1,000 might not be far from the truth.”
The allegations of widespread and systematic abuse over 50 years came as the BBC’s world affairs editor John Simpson told The Andrew Marr Show on Sunday that he regarded Savile as a “sleazebag” when they were BBC colleagues. But he rejected a report in The Observer which suggested that knowledge of the presenter’s offending was widespread. Mr Simpson said: “It gives the impression, wrongly I think, that everybody in the BBC knew about it – it didn’t apply to me – and also knew about Savile and shut up about it. I was working all through that time. I remember what a sleazebag, nasty piece of work Savile was. But it didn’t occur to me that this was going on.
“Of course something should have been done, and of course the BBC should have revealed it about itself.”
A BBC spokesman said the corporation would not comment until the review had been published.
Dame Janet’s review is expected to reveal how hundreds of victims were abused by the entertainer and that there was a culture of ignorance which “protected” him. BBC executives turned a “blind eye” to the abuse carried out by the paedophile DJ, according to leaks.
She has called on potential victims, witnesses, people who worked with Savile and former senior staff to assist with the investigation.
Mr Saunders said those who passed up the opportunity to report the entertainer had simply allowed him to continue his predatory offending. He said: “I have heard a lot over the last 18 months and talked to Jimmy Savile’s victims, and I have lost count of the number of people who have said they knew about the nature of the man.
“Margaret Thatcher was advised not to give him a knighthood due to his offensive behaviour. What did she do? She ignored it. Savile was protected by the establishment.”
Savile, who died in 2011 at 84, is now believed to have been one of the UK’s most prolific abusers, with hundreds of possible victims.
It is alleged the TV star abused young people on BBC premises, in hospitals and care homes and the Broadmoor high-security psychiatric hospital.
Another report, looking into Savile’s abuse on NHS premises, is expected to be published in June.