Jimmy Savile: BBC's George Entwistle appears before MPs

Key Points

  • BBC director general George Entwistle appears before MPs on the Commons culture committee, where he is questioned about the Jimmy Savile affair
  • TV presenter Jimmy Savile, who died in 2011 aged 84, is accused of sexually abusing young people over a four-decade period - sometimes on BBC premises
  • The BBC has announced inquiries into why a Newsnight investigation into Savile was dropped and another into whether the corporation's culture allowed sexual abuse to take place
  1.  
    0906:

    Good morning and welcome to our live coverage of this morning's appearance before the House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee of the BBC's director general, George Entwistle. He is expected to be questioned about the BBC's response to the Jimmy Savile sexual abuse scandal after it was alleged the former TV presenter and Radio 1 DJ sexually abused young people over a 40-year period.

     
  2.  
    0912:

    In particular, MPs will want the director general to talk about the decision by Newsnight's editor Peter Rippon to pull the programme's investigation into Savile last December.

     
  3.  
    0914:

    At the time the programme was axed, Mr Entwistle was head of BBC Vision - which oversees TV commissioning and scheduling. It is likely he will also be asked about when and how he found out the Newsnight report into Savile's sexual abuse was being dropped.

     
  4.  
    0916:

    Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee chairman, Conservative MP John Whittingdale, is expected to lead the questioning of Mr Entwistle. He said earlier this week that the BBC had made "a bad situation even worse" with its "lamentable" handling of the shelved Newsnight investigation into the Savile allegations.

     
  5.  
    0920:

    Meanwhile BBC director general George Entwistle has set up two independent inquiries into the Savile abuse claims.

     
  6.  
    0921:

    The first is led by Nick Pollard, a former head of Sky News, which is already looking into why the Newsnight report into Savile was dropped late last year and the BBC's handling of the matter. It is expected to report back by the beginning of December.

     
  7.  
    0927:
    George Entwistle

    Fleet Street photographers were outside Mr Entwistle's home first thing on Tuesday morning to catch him as he left for work. He became director general on 17 September this year.

     
  8.  
    0928:

    The second inquiry set up by the BBC will be led by former Court of Appeal judge Dame Janet Smith and will examine the culture of the corporation during the years that Savile worked there. The results are expected in spring 2013.

     
  9.  
    0931:

    A raft of sex abuse claims against Savile started emerging after ITV broadcast an investigation into the allegations - Exposure: The Other Side of Jimmy Savile - on 3 October. A Newsnight report - which also examined allegations against the former TV star - had been dropped in December 2011.

     
  10.  
    0933:

    On 19 October, the Metropolitan Police - which is taking the national lead in the Savile probe - formally announced a criminal investigation into allegations of sexual abuse involving the presenter and others. They say they are following 400 lines of inquiry and there could be as many as 200 victims.

     
  11.  
    @Brendan__Miller,

    tweets: This is what greets George Entwistle as he leaves the BBC offices at Millbank this morning #savile pic.twitter.com/ybKxFmbQ

     
  12.  
    0935:

    A bit of background about Jimmy Savile: He was a former BBC presenter and DJ who rose to fame during the 70s and 80s, especially for his work on programmes such as Jim'll Fix It and Clunk, Click. He died in October 2011 aged 84. Police have since described him as "a predatory sex offender". They believe he may have sexually abused many people, including young girls, over a 40-year period, sometimes on BBC premises.

     
  13.  
    0936:

    An update on this morning's select committee meeting - people have started arriving at Portcullis House - opposite the Palace of Westminster on the banks of the River Thaames, where many MPs have their offices. The questioning will be held in the Thatcher Room, no less.

     
  14.  
    0937: @ridgwaytim,

    tweets: Caller on five live puts the savile abuse claims into perspective: "this is not a BBC thing, this is nationwide thing"

     
  15.  
    0938:

    In other news surrounding the Savile abuse claims, two charities set up in the former presenter's name have announced they are to close. The Jimmy Savile Charitable Trust and the Jimmy Savile Stoke Mandeville Hospital Trust said they had considered continuing under new names, but felt they would always be linked in the public's mind with the late presenter.

    They said all their funds would be distributed to other charities.

     
  16.  
    0940:

    The BBC News Channel's chief political correspondent, Norman Smith, says the committee is likely to look at George Entwistle's competence and his judgement. Members of the committee will consider his competence when he was the head of BBC Vision and was very briefly informed that Newsnight was investigating Jimmy Savile. And there will be questions about his judgment as director general.

    Our correspondent says it's going to be a "very big moment for George Entwistle".

     
  17.  
    0943:

    The BBC has issued a press release this morning about the Newsnight report into Savile abuse claims that was dropped in 2011. In particular, it says: "We should also make it clear we now accept that the Newsnight investigation did not start out as an investigation into the Surrey police's handling of the case against Mr Savile."

     
  18.  
    0944:

    This is essentially a correction of Newsnight editor Peter Rippon's previous blog that stated the programme's report was originally looking at the police investigation into abuse - something that was challenged by Newsnight journalists in a special Panorama programme last night.

     
  19.  
    0946:

    Media commentator Steve Hewlett tells the BBC News Channel this crisis would have been ideal for a new director general to look "broad-shouldered" and confident. However, he says, the problem is that Mr Entwistle was "at the scene of the crime" because he will be asked what happened when he was director of BBC Vision and informed that there was a Newsnight investigation into Jimmy Savile. "He really needs to get on to the front foot" and convince people that "somebody is in charge", says Mr Hewlett.

     
  20.  
    0947:

    You can catch up on Panorama's report - Jimmy Savile - What the BBC Knew - on the BBC iPlayer. The report unpicks the sexual abuse claims against Savile - relating to his time with the BBC, the NHS and at Broadmoor special hospital among other organisations. It also examines why the Newsnight programme was shelved.

     
  21.  
    Freddie, in Dover,

    emails: I am shocked and appalled at what is still allegedly a systematic case of sexual abuse by a once beloved television presenter. I feel that although more and more cases emerge day by day, there is a sense of some people jumping on board a bandwagon. How much of this is fact? The police investigation needs to decide.

     
  22.  
    0948:

    BBC Head of Editorial Policy and Standards David Jordan could also be called for questioning in front of MPs, the BBC understands.

     
  23.  
    0950:

    BBC director general George Entwistle appears outside the BBC's offices in Westminster and tells waiting reporters he is looking forward to answering the committee's questions.

     
  24.  
    0951:

    Mr Entwistle is on his way to the select committee meeting where he faces questions over the BBC's handling of the Savile abuse claims.

     
  25.  
    0951:

    You can read more background about why George Entwistle is being questioned today here.

     
  26.  
    Jonathan, in Brighton,

    emails: As Cameron says, the BBC and the NHS have serious questions to answer. Could the government now answer other serious questions about how Savile was vetted to have annual Christmas dinners with Thatcher at Chequers?

     
  27.  
    0956:

    David Jordan, the BBC's director of Editorial Policy and Standards, will accompany Mr Entwistle to the meeting today, it has been confirmed. And he will answer questions if asked.

     
  28.  
    0958:

    Email exchanges between BBC staff show how concerns were raised about Newsnight's investigation into the Jimmy Savile abuse allegations and the decision not to broadcast the programme. You can follow the correspondence trail by clicking here

     
  29.  
    1001:

    BBC director general George Entwistle has arrived at Portcullis House in Westminster - where he will be questioned by MPs about the BBC and its handling of the Jimmy Savile abuse scandal at 10:30 BST. You can follow it live here with us in text and video.

     
  30.  
    Tony, in Cheshire,

    texts: Paul Gambaccini take a bow. You have bravely further opened the Savile debate claiming he conned a society for "years" including the BBC, News International, the NHS, prime ministers, the royal family. It makes you wonder who knew what and when. The guilty silence is deafening.

     
  31.  
    1002:

    There are so many strands to the Savile abuse story - the hundreds of abuse claims themselves, when the BBC found out about them and how it handled them, the inquiries that have been launched, and what other organisations are in the spotlight. For any questions you might have read our Q&A

     
  32.  
    1004:

    BBC director general George Entwistle is new to his post. He only took over the role in September, following the departure of Mark Thompson. Previously he was director of BBC Vision - a role that included overseeing all of the BBC's TV channels. Panorama revealed he was first made aware of the axed Newsnight investigation into Jimmy Savile at an awards ceremony on 2 December 2011. He has stepped back from any editorial decisions concerning Savile stories.

     
  33.  
    1006:

    Speaking to the press as he left the BBC's Westminster offices earlier, George Entwistle said: "I'm very grateful indeed to the committee for finding time to speak to me and I'm looking forward to going there now and answering their questions."

     
  34.  
    Russel West,

    on the BBC News Facebook page, comments: Stop worrying about who did what and start demanding the victims get the help they need.

     
  35.  
    1010:

    George Entwistle will appear before the Commons culture committee in 20 minutes time - at 10:30 BST.

     
  36.  

    BBC Home Editor Mark Easton says: "Any suggestion that news reporters were prevented from broadcasting a story because of its inconvenience to the corporation could undermine the credibility of BBC News. And so the fact Panorama is able to investigate editorial decisions within the Corporation is seen as evidence of a vital freedom."

     
  37.  
    1013:

    Former Conservative Culture Secretary David Mellor says the director general's job could be under threat. "There is a blood lust out there. Teeth are being sharpened in anticipation of a kill," he tells the BBC.

     
  38.  
    1017:

    To recap on the dropped Newsnight report:

    Newsnight editor Peter Rippon dropped a planned programme on Jimmy Savile late last year. In his blog, he denied he had been pressured into pulling the programme because of a clash with BBC Christmas tributes to Savile. He said the story would have been stronger if it could have shown institutional failings, which it had failed to do. He "stepped aside" on 22 October while an inquiry into Newsnight's handling of the Savile story is carried out. A BBC statement said his blog explanation was "inaccurate or incomplete" in some respects.

     
  39.  
    1019:

    Who is George Entwistle? Peter Rippon? Helen Boaden? See our Who's Who page for a reminder of some key BBC decision-makers in the Savile story.

     
  40.  
    1022:

    We've just heard that overnight viewing figures for Panorama's Jimmy Savile special show 5.1m people tuned in - double the programme's normal audience.

    The report looked into abuse claims and the axed Newsnight report. One alleged victim of Savile expressed anger her interview had not aired by the BBC last year.

     
  41.  
    Jim, in Shrewsbury,

    emails: If reporters had such compelling evidence, even if the BBC did sit on it, why were they not shouting this from the roof tops? It doesn't appear that any of them approached the police with this information?

     
  42.  
    1028:

    Prime Minister David Cameron said on Monday that the nation was "appalled" by the Savile allegations, adding "they seem to get worse by the day". He went on to say he was "sure" the BBC's own reviews would answer "serious questions" over the corporation's handling of the affair.

     
  43.  
    1030:
    George Entwistle

    Earlier, BBC director general George Enwistle spoke briefly to journalists as he left the BBC's Westminster offices.

     
  44.  
    1031:

    Just as Mr Entwistle is about to sit down in front of MPs about now, here's a quick recap on what's expected. It is thought the BBC director general will be asked about why the Newsnight investigation into Jimmy Savile was dropped, and why the BBC screened tributes to the late presenter soon afterwards at Christmas - when Mr Entwistle was head of TV programming.

     
  45.  
    Alan, in Bolton,

    emails: The BBC has to answer the question as to why the organisational culture effectively placed individuals in danger of losing their jobs if they reported the behaviour of Savile and others. As a result many children were abused.

     
  46.  
    Ian, in Tunbridge Wells,

    emails: Typical of our age is that we have to find someone to blame even if the perpetrator is no longer around. It is obvious where this is going find someone who can carry the can then get the lawyers out so people can make some money from it.

     
  47.  
    David Allerton,

    on the BBC Facebook page, comments: Rather than question George Entwistle the present director of the BBC, MP's should be asking all those carers, nurses and BBC employees who now say they actually witnessed Jimmy Saville abuse young girls.

     
  48.  
    1036:

    The MPs of the Commons culture committee have taken their seats at Portcullis House, opposite the Palace of Westminster, where they will shortly begin questioning BBC director general George Entwistle.

     
  49.  
    1037: Norman Smith Chief political correspondent, BBC News Channel

    says it will not be an "easy session" for the director general, who he says has never appeared before a committee of MPs before. There is a lot loaded on his appearance, both for the BBC and for Mr Entwistle personally.

     
  50.  
    1037:

    Mr Entwistle is taking his seat - questioning by the MPs is about to begin.

     
  51.  
    1039:

    Mr Whittingdale refers to comments made by veteran BBC reporter John Simpson's that this is the corporation's worst scandal for 50 years.

     
  52.  
    1039:

    Mr Entwistle says he "recognises the gravity" of the situation.

     
  53.  
    1041:

    Committee chairman John Whittingdale speaks about "allegations of supression" and calls into question the BBC's handling of the situation.

     
  54.  
    1042:

    Mr Entwistle says the "key" thing for him has been not to impinge on police work since the allegations against Jimmy Savile came out.

     
  55.  
    ITV News UK Editor, Lucy Manning,

    tweets: Entwistle doesn't accept that BBC haven't handled the Savile allegations well

     
  56.  
    1043:

    Mr Entwistle says there is "no question" that the way in which the BBC handled Savile over the years raises questions over trust. He says it leaves him with a sense of "horror".

     
  57.  
    1045:

    The scale of what Jimmy Savile did "will raise questions" for the BBC about trust and why things were allowed to go on for as long as they did. It is a matter of "grave regret for me," says Mr Entwistle.

     
  58.  
    1047:

    Mr Entwistle: The BBC's capacity to "interrogate it's own corporate handling of things is unmatched in the world". Rather than see last night's Panorama programme into the handling of the Newsnight programme as a symptom of "chaos", he sees it as "a symptom of health" of the BBC's independence.

     
  59.  
    1048:

    Mr Entwistle says Savile could not have done what he did without there being a problem in the "broader culture" at the BBC. But he warns it is important to distinguish between criminal allegations and sexual harrasment.

     
  60.  
    @currybet,

    tweets: True that Panorama investigating the BBC was unique. But they never thought to look into rumours about Jimmy Savile at any time previously

     
  61.  
    1056:

    Mr Entwistle says the BBC is helping the police with enquiries about a paedophile ring alleged to have been operating during Savile's time - something the Panorama investigation looked into in Monday night's programme. You can watch Panorama on the BBC iPlayer.

     
  62.  
    1100:
    George Entwistle

    Mr Entwistle has been facing MPs' questions for a little under 30 minutes - where he has faced strong questioning over the BBC's responsibilities to those young people allegedly abused by Jimmy Savile.

     
  63.  
    1100:

    Mr Entwistle confirms the current policy on child protection and whistle-blowing about harassment at the BBC are "fit for purpose". He says the BBC Trust has asked him to report on this matter in December.

     
  64.  

    You are also commenting on BBC boss defends Savile response story:

    lojohn: I don't think that Entwistle is the guy to be facing this - Mark Thompson and Greg Dyke should be there for starters, going back 40 years if we must, to get to the bottom of this!

    John B: Another day another Jimmy Savile headline. We have global economic crises, political party conference season, US elections, Far-right extremism on the rise in some European countries, and yet all we see is yet more BBC / Jimmy Saville headlines. Boring, irrelevent, non-news.

     
  65.  
    1102:

    "The scope and scale" of the independent inquiries launched by the BBC will be "as wide as they can possibly be", says Mr Entwistle. He says the "key way" to get to the bottom of the matter is to allow the two inquiries to be completed.

     
  66.  
    1102:

    The director general has said he is determined to know if abuse was endemic.

     
  67.  
    1103:

    George Entwistle faced stern questioning in the past half-hour from Conservative Philip Davies - who accused the director general of a "lamentable lack of knowledge" about the current level of sexual harassment claims at the BBC.

     
  68.  
    1105:

    However, while being questioned by Labour's Steve Rotheram, Mr Entwistle accepts that as Savile is dead to that extent he "has got away with it". But the director general adds that "cannot be the end of it".

     
  69.  
    Sky News Political Correspondent, Sophy Ridge,

    tweets: Entwistle's strategy is to defend the BBC's handling of Savile allegations and to be cautious about the words he uses. http://news.sky.com/story/1001394/jimmy-savile-entwistle-evidence-live …

     
  70.  
    National Editor, The Guardian, Dan Roberts,

    tweets: it does seem worrying that Beeb doesn't seem to think it has historical duty to investigate past complaints #entwistle

     
  71.  
    Jon, in Dorset,

    emails: Why didn't any of these complainants feel they could contact their local MPs? If they did, why didn't the MPs do something about this before?

     
  72.  
    George, in London,

    emails: What a pathetic display by the DG of the BBC. Ill-prepared to give evidence and weak in his explanations. He is a typical example of an old fashioned style senior manager supported by a cumbersome hierarchy. He manages an organisation via 'process' and procedure, rather than leading.

     
  73.  
    1109:

    Liberal Democrat MP Adrian Sanders asks what Mr Entwistle has done to encourage BBC staff to come forward over the claims. The director general says he has circulated a widely-reported email asking employees who might have any information to get in touch with police. There is also a whistle-blowing line available for anyone outside the BBC to take advantage of, he says.

     
  74.  
    oldrottenhead,

    comments: On first impressions, this guy should not be running the bbc, he should be running the country. very impressed.

     
  75.  
    1111:

    Dame Janet Smith told BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour that she would begin her investigations - into whether the BBC's culture allowed sexual abuse to take place - from Monday while the inquiry team was already being assembled this week.

    "It does take a little time to crank an inquiry into motion but that's happening this week and I hope to be doing useful and productive work by next Monday," she said.

    Dame Janet said she had no idea how long the inquiry would take.

    "It seems to me that the material is growing almost by the day and I can't estimate how long it's going to take," she said.

     
  76.  
    1114:
    Commons culture committee

    If you've just joined us - the Commons culture committee is questioning BBC director general George Entwistle (foreground left) and the corporation's director of editorial policy and standards, David Jordan, about the Jimmy Savile sexual abuse claims.

     
  77.  
    1114:

    Mr Sanders is now asking about how the BBC responded to the case of a girl who had formerly been a guest on Top of the Pops and later killed herself. Mr Entwistle says he cannot find a record of a BBC inquiry made following her death.

     
  78.  
    1115:

    Mr Entwistle says he cannot find any BBC documentation about age limits for people taking part in Top of the Pops during the 60s, 70s and 80s. There was an age limit change in 1971 from 15 to 16 however, he adds.

     
  79.  
    1116:

    The culture has changed since the 60s and 70s, says Mr Entwistle, but he is not convinced that it has changed enough. He says it is something that the BBC "simply has to get right".

     
  80.  
    1116:

    Mr Entwistle says he came away from the Panorama programme aired on Monday believing that the investigation by Newsnight into Savile should have been allowed to continue.

     
  81.  
    ichabod,

    comments: Last night on Panorama we heard an interview from a person testifying as a victim and complaining her story was not used. But the logic of that is that every interview with anyone should be used in any story being investigated. This is illogical. Editors must have a right to edit, and occasionally they get it wrong. But which of us in our jobs is perfect every single day?

     
  82.  
    1118:

    Questioning about the dropped Newsnight report has begun. Asked why it took three weeks for the BBC to correct its explanation of why the report was axed, Mr Entwistle says there was a significant difference of opinion between the editor Peter Rippon and those working on the programme. He wanted to get to the bottom of why this was the case.

     
  83.  
    Emma, in Bromsgrove,

    emails: What a lame performance so far from the DG. He cannot pass the buck, and he must be more frank about his knowledge of what actually goes on at the BBC. He knows more than he is saying. Oh, and can we all get a big fat rebate on our licence fees paid over the past 40 years?

     
  84.  
    Dan Sabbagh,

    of the Guardian tweets: Entwisle has asked for advice from dinah rose qc - who advises newsint over hacking civil cases!!!!

     
  85.  
    1121:

    Mr Entwistle is explaining why the BBC's clarification of what happened too so long. He said he wanted to stand back from talking to Newsnight journalists because he thought it was important as director general to create a separate channel for staff to express their concerns.

     
  86.  
    1122:

    Mr Entwistle said he had believed Peter Rippon's account of what had happened was accurate - he was editor of the programme. Mr Rippon has agree to "step aside" while ex-Sky News chief Nick Pollard probes the decision to drop Newsnight's Savile investigation.

     
  87.  
    1123:

    The BBC director general says he is confident that, "to the best of the knowledge we have been able to assemble", the version of events presented by the BBC explaining why the Newsnight investigation was dropped is now accurate.

     
  88.  
    1125:

    Mr Entwistle is being asked if there was pressure from above to drop the investigation. Newsnight reporter Liz MacKean wrote to friends saying the Savile film was being discussed by a "long political chain" of executives.

     
  89.  
    1126:

    Mr Entwistle says he did not ask Newsnight editor Peter Rippon about any conversations he may have had with figures more senior than him about the Newsnight investigation.

     
  90.  
    1128:

    Mr Entwistle won't admit, as MPs suggest, that he has been "let down by BBC News managers".

     
  91.  

    George Entwistle is now a trending topic on Twitter in the UK.

     
  92.  
    @GlenisWade,

    tweets: terrible that George Entwistle doesn't yet know about the number of sexual Harassment cases at BBC # 7 pillars of business ethics Not!

     
  93.  
    1129:

    Mr Entwistle: I was "very disappointed indeed" to find out that Newsnight editor Peter Rippon's account of why the Savile abuse report was dropped was inaccurate.

     
  94.  
    1132:

    MPs have now been questioning BBC director general George Entwistle about the corporation's knowledge and handling of the Jimmy Savile abuse scandal for the best part of an hour. He has faced robust questions over the BBC's policies on child protection and sexual abuse, its handling of the original claims made in an ITV documentary and why a December 2011 Newsnight probe into Savile was dropped.

     
  95.  
    1133:

    Coming back to the MPs' questions, Mr Entwistle is currently answering the queries of Conservative Damian Collins. The director general says the matter raises questions about what should happen to programmes that are not aired, but uncover important revelations. He suggests there could be some amendment to the BBC's editorial policy.

     
  96.  
    1134:

    MP's ask about BBC Director of News Helen Boaden's warning to Newsnight editor Peter Rippon that even though Savile was dead there should be no skimping on journalistic standards - they suggest this could be construed as pressure. Mr Entwistle says he doesn't see it as "inappropriate".

     
  97.  
    JohnGammon,

    comments: The BBC has already handled this issue badly, somehow managing to mislead the public in the hope it would go away - and to "defend the BBC's response" is a very poor strategy today. Mr Entwistle needs to talk straight. Why didn't he axe/shelve the Jimmy Savile eulogy programme the moment he discovered there was a Newsnight investigation going on?

     
  98.  
    Mike,

    texts: Here we go again, Savile once more! The select committee meeting under way speaks of "a culture at the BBC." It was a culture in the country, not just at the BBC. We didn't have politically correct witch hunts then either.

     
  99.  
    1136:

    Mr Entwistle has repeated several times that it is appropriate that the editor of a big programme such as Newsnight takes full control of the programme. The director general - who acts as editor-in-chief - would not be involved in many decisions, he points out.

     
  100.  
    1137:

    The BBC director general thinks it was "strange" that the investigation was not pursued in any form after it was halted by the Newsnight editor.

     
  101.  
    Peter, in Telford,

    emails: Some of the questioning by the MPs is woefully ignorant, how can the DG be expected to provide answers on historic matters over which he can have no direct knowledge? In contrast, the DG seems assured and robust in his responses.

     
  102.  
    1140:

    If you're finding it hard to keep up with the various BBC managers being referred to by the MPs and Mr Entwistle - check our who's who at the BBC and their roles by clicking here

     
  103.  
    1141:

    Labour MP Paul Farrelly says the Newsnight blog raised more questions then it answered. The glaring question was why the central journalistic fact that Savile was an alleged paedophile was not followed up by the BBC. Angles about the police were besides the point, he says.

     
  104.  
    1143:
    David Jordan (left) and George Entwistle

    BBC director general George Entwistle and David Jordan, director of the Corporation's editorial policy and standards, have answered questions from MPs on a wide range of issues related to Jimmy Savile and the way in which a Newsnight investigation into his conduct was dropped.

     
  105.  
    1143:

    Mr Entwistle: "The lesson here for everyone asked to write BBC blogs is they need to recognise... it must be accurate, honest - it must be accurate". He adds the Newsnight blog inaccuracy is a "matter for regret".

     
  106.  
    Norman Smith, Chief political correspondent, BBC News Channel

    the BBC News Channel's chief political correspondent tweets: BBC DG says never come across such "significant disagreement...of such virulence" as that in Newsnight over #savile

     
  107.  
    1147:

    On the issue of what the Panorama programme decided to investigate, Mr Entwistle says he took himself out of the decision-making process. Panorama has its "own agenda" which is independent of corporate involvement, he says.

     
  108.  
    1148:

    Mr Entwistle will not be drawn into discussing whether the Panorama programme was an example of the "BBC at war" with itself.

     
  109.  

    Here's a chance to see what George Entwistle said about the "problem of culture" within the BBC and what measures the corporation has in place to deal with complaints of sexual harassment now.

     
  110.  
    Daily Mail columnist, Dan Wootton,

    tweets: This entire appearance from Entwhistle still begs one huge question: Why did Rippon really lose enthusiasm for the Savile investigation?

     
  111.  
    1154:

    Here's a summary of George Entwistle's appearance before the Commons culture committee so far:

    • The investigation into Jimmy Savile should not have been dropped, but dismissed the key allegation of a cover up
    • He believed the Newsnight programme had not been put under pressure by senior BBC mangers to drop its investigation into the former star, but there was a "breakdown of communications" among journalists on the programme
    • On the wider issue of how Jimmy Savile had been able to get away with decades of alleged abuse, Mr Entwistle accepted it had damaged trust in the BBC and that there had clearly been a problem with the culture of the BBC in the 1960s and 70s.
     
  112.  
    1154:

    Mr Entwistle says he should have made it "clearer" that he wanted to see an internal review when he spoke on BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

     
  113.  
    1155:

    Mr Entwistle, responding to the assertion that the furore begs the question "who is in charge" of the BBC, says it is important that the editor of individual areas can make decisions. But the director general remains the editor-in-chief, he says.

     
  114.  
    Phil, in London,

    emails: As I recall, the reasons given by Meirion Jones as to why evidence was not handed to the police was primarily around the fact that Savile was dead and so could not be prosecuted, not around libel involving Gary Glitter. I agree with the DG in seeing no errors in the Panorama review.

     
  115.  
    1156:

    David Jordan clarifies that the "final say so" was never given for the Newsnight programme to be aired, even though a transmission date had been put in place.

     
  116.  
    1157:

    Mr Entwistle is asked whether it was "remarkable" that editor Peter Rippon had not viewed all the material in Newsnight's report before dropping it. He says: "It's hard to say what normal practice would be."

     
  117.  
    1159:

    Now MPs are turning to the period when Mr Entwistle was head of BBC Vision - overseeing TV programming for the corporation. He was "not directly responsible for shaping" the Christmas schedule in 2011, but has "overall responsibility" for it. It was around this time that the BBC broadcast a series of tributes to Savile - following the axing of the Newsnight report.

     
  118.  
    Andrew, in Nuneaton,

    emails: Does anyone else get the sense that the MPs are relishing this? After the MP expenses and their failed love affair with Murdoch, I'm sure all MPs are enjoying the whole show.

     
  119.  
    1202:

    Mr Entwistle recalls being informed of this in a brief conversation with the corporation's director of news, Helen Boaden. He says he was "grateful" for the warning. But they never spoke of the matter again, from which he concluded that the decision had been taken not to broadcast the investigation.

     
  120.  
    1204:

    Mr Entwistle's being questioned about whether there was a potential clash between the Savile tributes planned for broadcast over Christmas 2011 and the Newsnight report into the dead star's alleged sexual abuse.

     
  121.  
    1204:

    Mr Entwistle says it was rare for Ms Boaden to discuss Newsnight with him.

     
  122.  
    1205:

    He says he did "not seek" further information - something he has reflected on a lot - and the reason was that he had - and has - a "determination" to observe the separate operation of management and journalism.

     
  123.  
    1208:
    Jimmy Savile

    Jimmy Savile, who died in 2011 at the age of 84, was probably best known for the BBC Saturday night children's programme Jim'll Fix It. But it was an ITV1 documentary broadcast earlier this month that first aired allegations he sexually abused children and young people - sometimes on BBC premises.

     
  124.  
    1209:

    Responding to Conservative MP Damian Collins that the drive to separate out his management and journalism roles could be seen as a "blind spot" in the organisation, Mr Entwistle points out he has been accused of "intervening" in the Newsnight decision and of not being involved enough in the aftermath of it being dropped.

     
  125.  
    1211:

    Chairman John Whittingdale is pressing Mr Entwistle on why he did not follow up on his conversation with Helen Boaden about the potential Newsnight and Savile tribues clash in 2011 - the director general says he did not reflect on it.

    "I had no recollection of asking her what it was about," he says, adding he never wanted to show an undue interest: "perhaps I was over-sensitive", he says.

     
  126.  
    1212:

    Mr Entwistle is accused of having "an extraordinary lack of curiosity" after saying he did not recall asking director of news Helen Boaden about the nature of the Newsnight investigation into Savile.

     
  127.  
    1213:

    Mr Entwistle responds to the point by saying he was "waiting to hear if I should do anymore".

     
  128.  
    1215:

    Mr Entwistle earlier mentioned he would go to divisional managers if there was an issue with a programme. But he says it is not because he avoids talking to people "on the shop floor".

     
  129.  
    1218:

    While MPs continue to push the director general on what he knew from conversations with senior BBC managers about the Newsnight investigation into Savile, earlier there were questions from Tory Therese Coffey on attitudes at the corporation.

    Ms Coffey said a "chilling" email was sent by Newsnight editor Peter Rippon last November that said "our sources [in the Savile film] so far are just the women". The MP questioned whether the culture had really changed at the BBC.

    "That phrase, on the face of it, isn't in the least defensible, of course," said Mr Entwistle.

    "I do believe the culture has changed since the 70s and 80s but I'm not convinced it has changed as much as it should have."

     
  130.  
    1219:

    Back to the current questions - concerning the potential clash between the Newsnight probe and the BBC's Christmas TV schedule. After the Savile tribute, in 2011, a new updated replacement for the Jim'll Fix It programme - with a new presenter - had at one point been considered. But Mr Entwistle does not recall what became of the idea.

     
  131.  
    Political editor ITV News, Tom Bradby,

    tweets: From now on, I am going to tell my bosses not to show 'undue interest' in what I am doing.

     
  132.  
    1221:

    Mr Entwistle confirms his conversation with Helen Boaden happened during a lunch in December - but he says he can't recall exactly what was said. He knows she said there might be implications for his Christmas schedule.

     
  133.  
    Channel 4's Jon Snow,

    tweets: BBC managers cant pretend Rippon alone involved in pulling Savile stuff: Entwhistle admits he + others knew of conflict with planned tribute

     
  134.  
    1223:

    Labour MP Paul Farrelly says Mr Entwistle is "starting to sound like James Murdoch".

    But the director general says "I wasn't trying to turn a blind eye".

     
  135.  
    Norman Smith Chief political correspondent, BBC News Channel

    tweets: Newsnight prod Meirion Jones who led #savile inquiry now attached to Panorama

     
  136.  
    1224:

    Speculation over Newsnight editor Peter Rippon and his decision now - he must be able to make his case to the Pollard Review, says Mr Entwistle.

     
  137.  
    1225:

    Mr Entwistle asked Peter Rippon to step aside because of inaccuracies in his blog and to give him a chance to prepare properly for the Pollard Review, which will look at whether there were any failings in the BBC's management of the Newsnight investigation.

     
  138.  
    1226:

    Mr Rippon "became convinced" the police investigation angle was crucial to airing the Newsnight report, and "no external pressure" was required to come to that conclusion, says Mr Entwistle.

     
  139.  
    1227:

    Mr Entwistle points out that, for years, no other newspaper or broadcaster carried out an investigation into the Savile abuse allegations.

     
  140.  
    1228:

    Mr Entwistle disagrees with the suggestion that the BBC would have been more vigorous if the allegations of impropriety had regarded a different celebrity and broadcaster.

     
  141.  
    1230:

    Peter Rippon made the decision to drop the Newsnight investigation "on his own account", says the director general. He reasserts his belief that no management pressure was brought to bear to have the probe shelved.

     
  142.  
    1230:

    Responding to the suggestion that the BBC has a culture of risk aversion, the BBC director general says he is determined to encourage "journalistic adventure" and "creative adventure".

     
  143.  
    1233:
    George Entwistle

    Mr Entwistle has spent almost two hours taking questions from the House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee.

     
  144.  

    You have been commenting live on the BBC boss defends Savile response story. Here's what you've been saying:

    Jill: After last night's Panorama expose and overnight allegations in the press about with-held emails I still get the impression that the BBC are not being open about the full Newsnight story. The smoke and mirrors manoeuvres of recent weeks are a terrible distraction from the main issues: namely prosecuting any living perpetrators, assisting victims and ensuring that this can never happen again.

    ch21ss: The BBC seem rather obsessed with this story - does it really need to be the main story on the website for what seems to be more than a week already?

    godmac: Surely this is not about whether the BBC told the nation in some TV show or another. This is about a cover up of a series of alleged criminal acts and its this which should be getting investigated. If people at the BBC or any other organisation knew (or even suspected) this was going, then they had a duty to all those who fell victim to the abuse. Its that simple!

     
  145.  
    1234:

    On the Pollard Review, Mr Entwistle says: "I will do everything inside the BBC that I can do to make sure it happens as soon as possible... the faster the better."

     
  146.  
    Jenny, in Southport,

    emails: How can Jimmy Savile be found guilty without a proper investigation? It is supposed to be innocent until proven guilty?

     
  147.  
    1236:

    The culture select committee has concluded its questioning of the BBC's director general George Entwistle. Stay with us for more reaction and analysis - and don't forget you can tweet, text and email your reaction to Mr Entwistle's performance using the links and numbers below.

     
  148.  
    1239:

    The BBC's Nick Higham says Mr Entwistle started strongly, but was on the back foot for a lot of the time. MPs were almost taunting him over his lack of curiosity, says our correspondent. And he had a lot of difficulty answering questions about his time as director of TV.

     
  149.  
    Nick Higham BBC News

    says: "I doubt very much that George Entwistle enjoyed that."

     
  150.  
    1240:

    You can also read the full BBC News story on George Entwistle's questioning here.

     
  151.  

    Trending topics on Twitter in the UK include Panorama and Newsnight

     
  152.  
    Nick Higham BBC News

    says a lot of the questioning was very detailed - who said what, and when, to whom.

     
  153.  
    1253:

    George Entwistle - after two hours of questioning - tells reporters outside the MPs' offices at Portcullis House in Westminster that the BBC's independent inquiries must be allowed to do their job. He is pursued by reporters asking if he will resign as director general.

     
  154.  
    Norman Smith Chief political correspondent, BBC News Channel

    says he thought there were "memories and echoes" of James Murdoch's appearance before the culture select committee because of his failure to recollect certain events "again and again". He says the director general appeared to be "apportioning a considerable amount" of blame on Newsnight and, in particular, the editor Peter Rippon.

     
  155.  
    1256:
    George Entwistle

    Mr Entwistle - outside Portcullis House, where appeared before MPs - tells waiting reporters keen for a quote that after two hours of answering questions, "he wouldn't be answering any more".

     
  156.  
    Mel, in London,

    texts: Entwistle was not even born when Savile was working as a DJ at the BBC. Mark Thompson has had a narrow escape.

     
  157.  
    @DAMacDonald1980,

    tweets: Time for #tvlicence to be scrapped now we know #bbc have been protecting a paedophile #savile

     
  158.  
    John, in Leicestershire,

    emails: The BBC is damned if it does and damned if it doesn't and this is just another opportunity for MPs to have a pop. The DG is doing a robust job in defending the corporation, its editorial structure and his own part in this sorry saga and to accuse him of being no different to Murdoch is unbelievably puerile.

     
  159.  
    Telegraph's, James Kirkup,

    blogs: The BBC's DG does not come across as a man with a vice-like grip on the facts of a scandal that is doing his organisation grievous harm.

     
  160.  
    1308:

    In a few moments on BBC Radio 4, The World at One will mull over George Entwistle's performance before the Commons culture committee with John Lloyd of the Financial Times, who is also the co-founder of the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism. We'll listen along and bring you his thoughts.

     
  161.  
    1315:

    Let's quickly recap the first half hour of the MPs questions to George Entwistle. The focus at first was on the BBC's responsibilities to those people allegedly abused by the late Jimmy Savile - the former BBC presenter and DJ:

    • The director general admitted there was a problem with the "culture" of the BBC at the time Savile carried out his abuse - something the internal review would look into - but he found it hard to answer specific questions from Tory MP Philip Davies about the number of sexual harassment claims made internally at the BBC
    • Mr Entwistle said he regretted the inaccuracies of Peter Rippon's Newsnight blog, and recognised the horror and gravity of the Savile affair - which has raised serious questions for the BBC
    • But he said Panorama's investigation into the abuse claims and the dropping of Newsnight's report showed the fundamental health of BBC journalism
     
  162.  
    1316:

    John Lloyd, of the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, said the Panorama shown on Monday night was a "savage piece of journalism" for those involved in the Newsnight investigation and the decision to drop it.

     
  163.  
    1318:

    To recap, during the second half hour of questioning:

    • Mr Entwistle said the BBC is investigating up to 10 "serious allegations" involving past and present employees
    • At one point he was accused of a "lamentable lack of knowledge" about the current level of sexual harassment claims at the BBC
    • The BBC director general said he came away from watching the Panorama programme, aired on Monday, believing that the investigation by Newsnight into Savile should have been allowed to continue.
     
  164.  
    1321: Vicki Young Political correspondent, BBC News

    reports from Portcullis House, Westminster: There was a sombre and tense atmosphere inside the committee room as MPs waited to grill the BBC's top man. This committee is fresh from the interrogation of the Murdochs - and security outside was tight as members of the public were frisked to ensure no repeat of the foam pie incident. Two hours of relentlessly hostile questioning awaited Mr Entwistle who was on the back foot from the start, looking uncomfortable when asked about current sexual harassment complaints in the BBC.

    The DG clearly had no intention of defending the Newsnight editor's decision to drop the investigation into Savile saying it should have gone ahead.

    Most awkward for him was why tributes were aired when he knew Newsnight was investigating Savile. He was accused of a lack of curiosity for not asking more questions. MPs were incredulous as they heard details of the corporation's management structure.

    There was however a slight sense that the wrong witness was being questioned today and MPs need to hear Peter Rippon's side of the story.

     
  165.  
    Richard, in Kingston Upon Hull,

    emails: Some irony here in MPs questioning the Director General George Entwistle over 'integrity and honesty' - they could learn much from his honest responses. His answers do not at this stage have the 'whiff' of impropriety they seem desperate to uncover.

     
  166.  
    @randomUKhuman,

    tweets: Times like this we should ask is it the individual or the institution to blame. #Savile #BBC

     
  167.  
    1331:

    No 10 Downing Street has been asked for its reaction to Tuesday morning's appearance before MPs by the BBC director general George Entwistle.

    The prime minister does not rule out the possibility of further investigations in the BBC Savile affair, according to his spokesman. But he said existing investigations must take place first.

    The PMOS said: "We would not rule out anything at this stage. We think there are serious questions to answer. Two investigations have been set up and those investigations should be allowed to run their course."

     
  168.  
    The Daily Mail Online,

    tweets: Jimmy #Savile scandal: The #BBC is an empire of control freaks and cowards, says Max Hastings http://bit.ly/TDOUdw

     
  169.  
    Nigel, in London,

    emails: BBC journalists and producers should be proud of what they do - BBC news is a national asset that needs protecting and promoting - but the corporate managers have failed in this key task.

     
  170.  
    Barbara, Whitstable

    emails: When we started teaching back in the 70s, child protection was not thought about beyond obvious cruelty or incest. No excuses, but safeguarding etc. is a more recent concept. Whilst there is a case to answer; much cannot be Entwhistle's fault. It is a damned good opportunity for the government to have a really good, self-righteous go at the BBC.

     
  171.  
    1348:

    Former TV executive David Elstein, speaking to the BBC News Channel, accuses George Entwistle of having "no process, no curiousity" when it came to the Newsnight investigation into Jimmy Savile.

     
  172.  
    Si-rees, in Wales,

    emails: George Entwistle needs to be asked if he is going to award compensation to the victims. It seems clear that Mr Savile is responsible for many sexual attacks and that members of the BBC knew this was going on.

     
  173.  
    David Ashby

    tweets: the press should learn some lessons about how 'self regulation' should really work rather than gleefully jumping on the BBC

     
  174.  
    1359:

    Media commentators and newspapers are divided over the BBC's handling of the Jimmy Savile sex abuse scandal. We've rounded up Fleet Street's reaction for you to read here.

     
  175.  
    Graham, Wimbledon

    emails: From Entwistle's comments it is clear that the BBC has an ignorance of its public funded accountability, with regard to Internal Governance and the English Law.

     
  176.  
    1404:

    Let's recap what was said between 11:30 and 12:00 BST:

    • Mr Entwistle said it was not inappropriate that BBC News director Helen Boaden reminded Newsnight editor Peter Rippon about keeping up journalistic standards before the report was dropped
    • Having seen the Panorama investigation, Mr Entwistle admitted it was strange the journalistic material from the Newsnight programme was not taken further after the report was dropped
    • MPs questioned his lack of curiosity and involvement in major decisions in the affair. But Mr Entwistle insisted he wanted to take himself out of the "decision-making process" as editor-in-chief, allowing editors to make their own decisions about their own programmes
     
  177.  
    1407:

    And the final half-hour of the committee's session with George Entwistle:

    • Mr Entwistle insisted Newsnight editor Peter Rippon made the decision to drop the Savile abuse investigation "on his own account" - without any pressure from management
    • MPs raised concerns the director general did "not seek" further information about a potential programming clash between Newsnight's Savile report and the BBC's Christmas tributes to Savile while he was head of BBC TV scheduling
    • He points out he has been accused both of intervening in the Newsnight decision and not being involved enough
     
  178.  
    1409:

    That's where we shall leave our live coverage of BBC director general George Entwistle's appearance before the Commons culture committee, where he spent two hours answering MPs questions on the Jimmy Savile child abuse allegations. You can read our full story here and get in-depth reports, analysis and background here.

     

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