The BBC’s creative director Alan Yentob has categorically denied claims he branded two journalists “traitors” for their role in criticism of the BBC’s handling of the Jimmy Savile scandal.
Former BBC journalist Meirion Jones has referred to the claim in an article for the Spectator Life magazine, which allegedly referred to the role of he and his colleague Liz MacKean in a Panorama documentary into the Savile affair.
But Mr Jones said that Mr Yentob, 68, the BBC’s creative director, strongly denied saying this.
A BBC spokesman also told the Independent that Mr Yentob “categorically denies saying that”.
The journalists had worked on a Newsnight film that exposed the child sex attacker as a paedophile a year before his death, which the BBC decided not to show.
They later appeared in the 2012 Panorama documentary, ‘Savile – What the BBC Knew’, in which the BBC examined its own shortcomings with regards to the entertainer who appeared on children’s shows such as Jim’ll Fix It and Top of the Pops.
In the Spectator article, Mr Jones said: “A BBC colleague of mine who had been abused as a child wrote to Tony Hall [BBC Director General] to complain about the Savile affair.
“In his email (copied to me) he says he approached Yentob just after Panorama broadcast a film about whether or not there had been a cover-up at the BBC (the film included clips of Liz MacKean and me talking about what the BBC knew).
“He claims that Yentob denounced us.
“’Liz MacKean and Meirion Jones are traitors to the BBC,’ Yentob told him.
“He strongly denies saying this.”
In the same Spectator article, Mr Jones speaks about Mr Yentob’s quizzing by Dame Janet Smith, as part of her investigation into Savile’s abuse while at the BBC.
The review – which was set up by the BBC in October 2012 to examine the culture and practices of the corporation while Savile worked there – has been completed, but publication of the report has been delayed.
Mr Jones said it is likely that Mr Yentob would have been asked by Dame Janet about Louis Theroux’s 2000 documentary featuring Savile, in which the journalist asked the entertainer and hospital volunteer directly about rumours that he was a paedophile.
In the documentary, Mr Theroux asked Savile why he had said in interviews that he hated children: “Are you basically saying that so tabloids don’t, you know, pursue this whole ‘Is he/isn’t he a paedophile?’ line?”
To which Savile replied: “Yes, yes, yes. Oh aye. How do they know whether I am or not? How does anybody know whether I am? Nobody knows whether I am or not.
"I know I’m not, so I can tell you from experience that the easy way of doing it when they’re saying ‘Oh you have all them children on Jim’ll Fix It’, say ‘Yeah, I hate ‘em’.”
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