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Jimmy Savile sexual abuse scandal: A timeline of events as they unfolded

  • @MrNickClark


25 November 2011

Days after Newsnight journalists confirmed the police had investigated allegations of child sex abuse by Jimmy Savile in 2007, editor Peter Rippon emailed: “Excellent, we can then pull together the tx (transmission) plan.”

29 November 2011

After the journalists prepare a script with interviews and statements, the BBC Impact Team, which makes clips available to news outlets, anticipated “a huge amount of interest” in the investigation, adding: “All domestic outlets would want to run it”.

30 November 2011

Suddenly Rippon’s attitude changed, emailing producer Meirion Jones: “Having pondered this overnight I think the key is whether we can establish the CPS did drop the case for the reasons the women say.  That makes it a better story – our sources so far are just the women and a second-hand briefing”.

Newsnight journalist MacKean told a friend the same day: “PR [Peter Rippon] says if the bosses aren’t happy... [he] can’t go to the wall on this one.”

1 December 2011

Rippon hardened his position on securing the CPS line. In an email to Jones he said: “I think we should stop working on the other elements...because we don’t really have a strong enough story without it.  I’ll pull editing now”.

2 December 2011

BBC director of news Helen Boaden told George Entwistle, then director of vision at the BBC, about the Newsnight investigation and the possible impact on planned tributes to Savile. She warned if the segment went ahead, he may have to change the Christmas schedules. The conversation is said to have lasted “less than 10 seconds”.

7 December 2011

Jones emailed Rippon to warn him that the BBC would be accused of a cover-up if the story was dropped, and not running it could cause “substantial damage to BBC reputation”.

9 December 2011

Rippon decided not to continue with the investigation after the CPS told Newsnight it did not prosecute Savile over lack of evidence.

2 October 2012

After the news emerged, Rippon writes in his BBC blog that no new information had been uncovered by the Newsnight investigation, and the woman interviewed had already talked to the police, which the journalists denied.

3 October 2012

ITV screened its documentary into claims of Savile’s underage sex abuse.

5 October 2012

Entwistle, now Director General of the BBC, emailed all staff about the Savile crisis to say “the BBC Newsnight programme investigated Surrey Police’s enquiry into Jimmy Savile towards the end of 2011”

Jones replied immediately: “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.”

8 October 2012

MacKean emailed Entwistle to “share [her] disquiet about the handling of the Newsnight Savile story”. She wrote: “Worst of all has been what seems like a concerted effort to make it appear that our story was about something else, something that could be dropped and forgotten ahead of fulsome tribute programmes.”

11 October 2012

Entwistle said publicly he was aware of the Newsnight investigation but knew none of the details; “I had no idea what the nature of the investigation was”.

12 October 2012

Entwistle said: “Despite our efforts to make clear our belief that the decision to drop the Newsnight investigation was taken properly for sound editorial reasons people have continued to speculate.” He also offered a “profound and heartfelt apology” to Savile’s victims.

15 October 2012

Culture secretary Maria Miller tells the Commons that the BBC had “inappropriately” pulled the Newsnight investigation.

19 October 2012

British police launch a formal criminal investigation into allegations Savile

22 October 2012

The BBC reveals Rippon would step aside during the internal review, and added his blog had been wrong in three respects.