As it happened: reaction to BBC Savile programme evidence

Key Points

  • Evidence to the inquiry into the dropping of Newsnight's Jimmy Savile investigation has been published.
  • Jeremy Paxman told the inquiry that it was "common gossip" the DJ liked "young" people.
  • Acting director general Tim Davie said that by releasing the transcripts, the BBC was being "open and transparent".
  • Many comments have centred on the fact that long sections of the evidence are blacked out or "redacted".

    Hello and welcome to the BBC's coverage of the evidence to the Pollard inquiry into why the BBC dropped its probe into abuse by presenter Jimmy Savile.


    We are publishing key quotes from the interviews and submissions on this page.


    And here's our background to the crisis, which led to the resignation of the director general of the BBC, George Entwistle.


    Newsnight presenter Jeremy Paxman was among those interviewed as part of the BBC inquiry.


    During his interview for the Pollard Review, Mr Paxman said it was "common gossip" the DJ liked "young" people.


    "I don't know whether it was girls or boys. But I had no evidence of it, and I never saw anything that made me take it more seriously than it was common gossip."


    The Pollard Inquiry - by the former head of Sky News, Nick Pollard, was published in December. Find a summary of his findings here.


    The BBC has published online about 3,000 pages of emails, interviews and submissions from BBC executives and journalists - although about 3% of details have been removed.


    BBC Trust chairman Lord Patten said these documents "paint a very unhappy picture, but the BBC needs to be open - more open than others would be - in confronting the facts that lie behind Nick Pollard's report".


    Lord Patten continued: "A limited amount of text has been blacked out for legal reasons, but no-one could say that the effect has been to sanitise this material, which again puts a spotlight on some of our failings."


    "We need to acknowledge these shortcomings and learn from them," he added.


    This guide to the management structure at Newsnight will help you make sense of who was involved at the time of the Savile story.


    BBC correspondent, Nick Higham said there's a lot of interest in Paxman's evidence, but a lot of it has been redacted, which the BBC said is "for legal reasons".


    The review judged that Newsnight editor Rippon made a 'bad mistake' when he decided to drop the investigation into allegations of abuse by Jimmy Savile.


    Peter Rippon has been given a new post overseeing the creation of an online archive of BBC journalism.


    Helen Boaden, former director of news said she felt that the Savile report was "smoke without fire largely".

    1217: Niall Paterson Sky News

    tweets: Wow. Peter Rippon was still considering running the Savile investigation on the eve of ITV's documentary #pollard #savile


    Helen Boaden continued: "I think I was affected in this by the assumption that stuff like this comes out when celebrities die, which may be wrong on my part, but I think that had to some extent conditioned the way I saw it."


    BBC acting director-general Tim Davie has said : "The BBC has been open and transparent in its handling of this unhappy chapter in our history. It has not been an entirely comfortable process for us to go through but it is right that we did it this way."

    1224: Hellblazer, UK

    comments: It's a shame Savile isn't here to be held accountable for the terrible crimes he inflicted on innocent children. He was untouchable, and what I would really like to know is why and who made him untouchable.


    comments: He more or less admitted his deviant tendencies on the Louis Theroux programme. I find all the inactivity against him overwhelming.

    1227: Lina Saigol Financial Times

    tweets: #BBC brought in an external media trainer to help #Entwistle do #Today Programme. That's where your money goes, folks.


    Detailed accusations about Jimmy Savile's sex crimes were censored after viewers tried to post them on a BBC tribute web page, according to the evidence now published.


    The comments, which included one person who wrote "One of my best friends in 1972 was molested by this creep Savile. He was never the same again. Killed himself in 1985. How's About That Then?", were stopped from being published by a team of moderators employed by the corporation.

    1229: Lucy Manning ITV UK news editor

    tweets: Paxman doesnt hold back on BBCs Savile response "we wouldnt even tackle a bloody story that was about our own programme. This is pathetic"


    Here is Nick Pollard, whose report was published in December; the evidence to his inquiry has now been published.

    Nick Pollard

    The Guardian says former BBC director general George Entwistle "appears to have become increasingly defensive" during questioning by Richard Spafford QC for the Pollard inquiry.

    1232: Slave to the System - I am not a number

    comments: Journalists and the BBC just don't get it, do they. Not one of them thought about reporting the rumours from an industry that prides itself on independent investigation. Disgusting how the BBC wants to "move on" and no one gets blamed or sacked. The media and not just the BBC has lost so much public trust now, it will be hard to recover.

    1233: Lisa O'Carroll Guardian media journalist

    tweets: Paul Mylrea, outgoing head of comms says rate of leaking about Newsnight was "astonishing". Er, wasn't he a journalist once?


    Richard Spafford's questions concerned Mr Entwistle's role in the management of Newsnight's Savile programme and why it didn't appear on a risk list.

    1234: Mrs. Vee

    comments: "Common gossip"....what a shame no-one ever thought to look behind the gossip. I wonder what's in the redacted comments - what's the BBC frightened of? Not an unreasonable question seeing as it's us who pay for the BBC.

    1235: Ben de Pear Editor, Channel 4 News

    tweets: So as the BBC release a publicly funded report into a public body the acting DG of the BBC will only be interviewed by the BBC about the BBC

    1235: Chezza100

    comments: What an utter shambles. I do not buy the excuse that the World was so different in the 60s & 70s that people turned a blind eye.

    1238: pejomi

    Think this report confirms what we all suspected was going on... JS may be answering to a higher authority but some of his employers need to be answering to one now, this closing of ranks and washing of hands sickens me.

    1238: Lisa O'Carroll

    tweets Pollard put it to Patten that the appointment of Entwistle "was going to perpetuate that prob of BBC lifers managing other BBC lifers".


    This is Newsnight editor Peter Rippon, who lost his job as a result of the row over Jimmy Savile. He's since been appointed to head up the BBC news archive.

    Peter Rippon
    1242: Lemog

    comments: It beggars belief that any one person could get away with molesting so many kids for so long without certain people in positions of trust and authority, at best, looking the other way and, at worst, actively colluding with what was going on. It is all our responsibility to ensure that this is investigated fully and that all those complicit are held to account.

    1243: Adam

    comments: What I'd like to know the answer to is if this was all common knowledge why on earth didn't anyone at the BBC do anything about it..? Absolutely unbelievable...


    In one email headed "Jimmy Savile - paedophile", producer Meirion Jones, who was involved in establishing the axed Newsnight report, flagged up the idea of an investigation just hours after the presenter's death was announced.


    He wrote: "Some of the girls are now prepared to talk about this which might make a core to a film about what Jimmy Savile really got up to - and of course he's dead so he can't sue."

    1246: Rhyfelwyr

    comments: I can remember my mother turning the TV over in the mid 70's when Savile was on. When I asked why ( I was watching ToTP) she said 'he gives me the creeps - I don't trust that man', and then wouldn't tell me why (I was a youngster at the time). I think his proclivities were commonly suspected by many for years.


    Meirion Jones' emails also contain allegations of sexual activities in which girls at Duncroft approved school - where Savile was a regular visitor - were encouraged to take part.


    Here are a couple of extracts from the evidence, which you can read on our updating Who Said What page. First: Newsnight's Peter Rippon, asked why he felt "lukewarm" about the Savile report: " was a combination of a feeling in my stomach that these stories... can be very difficult to pull off... and doing it so soon after his death was going to compound that."

    1249: Ben Bradshaw Labour MP

    tweets: Goodness Tony Hall has a massive job in sorting BBC News dysfunctional fear & loathing no leadership lessons not learned & worse #pollard


    A number of commentators have expressed surprise that the BBC is only allowing the acting director general, Tim Davie, one interview with the BBC itself following the publication of these documents. Labour MP Ben Bradshaw, who sits on the media select committee, has tweeted that Mr Davie had "explicitly assured" the committee that the corporation would put people up for interview.

    1250: Ticky

    comments: Jimmy Savile was obviously a bad man, but those who knowingly allowed him to continue with his actions are equally as bad and need to be punished too. The BBC need to show what steps they have taken should any issues of child abuse arise in the future.


    More from Who Said What. Newsnight presenter Jeremy Paxman this time: "These people [paedophiles] prey upon children in vulnerable situations and when the children complain they are not believed. I thought that we [BBC Newsnight] had behaved just like many other authorities and I didn't like it."


    Former director general Mark Thompson said he did not regard Savile as "a kind of BBC person particularly" and said he would have been more worried if the investigation had been into a current member of staff.

    1252: Bollus

    comments: It is the hidden 3% (of the report) that must show the problems with the BBC.

    1255: JamesStGeorge

    comments: Gossip is not evidence anyone can or should take action based on.

    1256: Former culture secretary Ben Bradshaw

    tweets Goodness Tony Hall has a massive job in sorting BBC News dysfunctional fear & loathing no leadership lessons not learned & worse

    1257: Anne-Maria

    comments: Someone needs to stand up and say yes we got it wrong. Yes we knew it was goign on and no we didn't do anything about it.

    1259: Lucy Manning ITV UK editor

    tweets: Tim Davie acting BBC DG says not taking away material that's embarrassing to BBC just what lawyers said was risk. Not about protecting BBC.

    1259: Lucy Manning ITV UK news editor

    tweets: Tim Davie admits this is uncomfortable for the BBC & bosses. Says not judging success on how many people he can sack.


    Newsnight presenter Jeremy Paxman told the inquiry "the important question" was how Savile had been allowed to rise to prominence within the BBC.


    Mr Paxman said: "What was the BBC doing promoting this absurd figure, this absurd and malign figure? And I think that has to do with the fact of the BBC having been aloof from popular culture for so long."

    1300: Keithr

    comments: As soon as the "common gossip" statements come out its time to question any suppression of evidence. Any legal double-talk pales into insignificance if this redaction lets one single "authority" figure off the hook for not doing their job properly at the time. This is especially applicable to anyone still in the industry and in a position of trust.

    1301: Julian Druker Reporter, 5 News

    tweets: On certain pages, up to half of Jeremy Paxman's Pollard Report interview transcript is redacted #savile

    Pollard transcript
    1303: BBC's David Sillito

    tweets If it wasn't a secret then. It is now. #pollard #redactions

    1304: Lina Saigol, FT reporter

    tweets #BBC brought in an external media trainer to help #Entwistle do #Today Programme. That's where your money goes, folks.

    1305: David Bale

    comments: It's a sad fact throughout al of this - that all those who knew - who were well aware - shared in the "common gossip", did nothing, said nothing and still carry on as though nothing had happened at all! It's not a good reflection on us at all.

    1306: Bob Cross

    comments: One of my grown-up daughters told me (during Christmas lunch) that, when she was young, I wouldn't allow her to write to "Jim'll Fix It" as Savile was a pervert. I don't remember this incident ... but I do recall it being common knowledge in London.

    1307: Lisa O'Carroll

    tweets Patten reveals that John Birt tried to come to Entwistle's rescue. Sent him a note before disastrous sel comm. [Commons select committee] Doesn't say what was in note

    1309: Lisa O'Carroll Guardian media journalist

    tweets: Patten: communications was chaotic. Some of the specific advice that Entwistle got - eg on some of his own appearances was, pretty bizarre

    1309: Paul Coyne

    comments: The BBC got it wrong, but it is only one of a great many organisations that did. None of the press that are now baying for BBC blood ever printed a bad word about Savile. Yet they knew - it was common knowledge that he was an abuser, but everyone looked the other way because nobody wanted to break rank.

    1310: Lisa O'Carroll Guardian media journalist

    tweets: Patten says acting DG Tim Davie has "two or three experienced people around him", no longer have this 'frantic faffing about"

    1310: Gabriel Oaks

    comments: As soon as the Savile scandal broke a friend (senior BBC) said there had always been rumours but those who should have listened didn't....

    1314: Dan Wootton Showbiz reporter

    tweets: Respect to Jeremy Paxman for his very honest views on BBC bosses: 'I think the BBC's behaviour now is almost as contemptible as it was then."

    1322: temporarily out of order

    comments: Savile's alleged behaviour was clearly despicable. The lack of diligence by the BBC, NHS and other organisations that facilitated his hunting grounds is stunning. Failing to protect people whilst on their premises may even be criminal, at least it would have been in any place I worked.

    1323: Leodisthefirst

    comments: If knowledge about Savile was 'common gossip' then an investigation should have been carried out 'at the time' to prove or disprove the rumours. By not doing so the BBC and its management aided Savile in his criminal activities, they should also be in the dock. Another group to be charged are those who claim to have 'known' what Savile was up to. They are as bad as the perpetrator, maybe worse.

    1324: Ben de Pear Editor, Channel 4 News

    tweets: In my time as a TV journalist I have been offered interviews with the following people produced by their own organisations; President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad of Iran, President Charles Taylor of Liberia, & Tim Davie of the BBC. We got Mugabe and Ahmedinejad ourselves but not Taylor & turned down his offer of self interview; we are still trying for Tim Davie

    1326: Steve H, London

    emails: They key thing here is that you cannot act on hearsay, you need evidence that will stand up in a courtroom. That said, any evidence of people in positions of power within the BBC (or elsewhere) whose failure to investigate claims allowed abuse to continue, should face more than simply being reprimanded. Those whose omission (failure to act) allowed abuse to persist should face criminal prosecution and imprisonment if convicted. Abuse is more likely to continue when those in power refrain from acting. I should like to see that state take similar action against clergy and social workers, etc who allowed abuse to persist.

    1326: David Sillito Arts Correspondent

    tweets: Helen Boaden discusses difficult issues within Newsnight. #pollard #redaction

    Pollard document
    1328: Ian Richardson, former BBC journalist

    tweet: @highamnews #Pollard. How is it possible that #Savile spelt incorrectly throughout Paxo's transcript?! What other errors are there?

    1328: Debbie, Farnborough

    emails: Everyone that knew should be held responsible. Not holding those people responsible is turning a blind eye to what has happened.

    1328: solar

    comments: The BBC has seriously let down a lot of people (again). They like to point the finger at the banks and Church and yet they have harboured one of the most prolific child abusers in recent history.


    Newsnight presenter Jeremy Paxman, who said the BBC's handling of questions over why it did not broadcast the Savile report was a "balls-up".

    Jeremy Paxman
    1329: Julian Gardner, Stirling

    emails: Why is it redacted, is there information here that could cause a person/persons to be implicated in this sordid tale, if so have the BBC passed on the un-redacted version to the police? If not, why not?

    1337: Cardinal Fang

    comments: We keep hearing that it was "common knowledge" that Savile was a pervert, not only around the BBC, but also amongst newspaper journalists. Why didn't the tabloids expose him when he was alive? Instead of hacking the phones of murder victims, why weren't there stories exposing Savile? Guilt over a cover up goes beyond the BBC to those who heard but didn't investigate, and didn't speak out.

    1337: Percy Blades

    comments: Terrible though all Savile's crimes were and how incomprehensible it seems to most here, it was a very different social landscape in the 70s. I was at the Leeds Infirmary then, met Savile who was exploiting the system for his own ends. 'Life on Mars' accurately reflected the social norms of the time, especially the police, so you weren't going to get anywhere by expressing concerns.


    In emails seen by the inquiry team, Newsnight journalist Meirion Jones warned just days before the planned broadcast that it should go ahead because otherwise the BBC would be accused of a "cover-up" and a scandal could blow up.


    Mr Jones wrote: "I think if we go ahead with TX next week there will be minor embarrassment to the BBC. If we cancel or delay till after Christmas there is a risk of another BBC scandal on the scale of the Queen or Jonathan Ross and similar damage to our core value of trust."

    1346: Niall Paterson, Sky News

    tweets: Having read most of the transcripts, little that's hugely revelatory. Plenty to confirm #pollard's view that BBC management dysfunctional.


    The emails show that at one stage a date - December 7 2011 - had been pencilled in for the screening of the Newsnight investigation, until programme editor Peter Rippon decided the report needed to focus on whether the Crown Prosecution Service had dropped a probe into Savile's activities.


    BBC says parts of evidence have been blacked outr - "redacted" - for reasons of defamation; data privacy; protection of confidential sources; anonymity for victims of sexual assault; potential prejudice to or interference with police investigations or ongoing criminal proceedings; legal professional privilege; and "confidentiality where a genuine and identifiable interest of the BBC is at stake".


    Mark Damazer a former head of news at the BBC, told BBC Radio 4's World at One the corporation had been very open under difficult circumstances. "I can't think of another media organisation in the world that would end up with this amount of evidence being published on top of an inquiry which in itself, not a word of which was written by the BBC, the Pollard inquiry, and in itself was in no way redacted, censored, or anything of the kind," he says.


    Mr Damazer adds: "So on the one hand the BBC felt under an obligation to be totally transparent or as near as legal advice would let it be. And on the other hand it knows that by doing that it is extending this incredibly painful period of corporate dismay about the sequence of events surrounding Savile."


    On the proposed day of transmission of the Savile programme, Mr Rippon was still unsatisfied with progress on the report, saying in one email to a news publicist: "We have been looking at the story but it is far from clear that it will ever be strong enough for us even to run it. I am not satisfied that it is."


    By 9 December, the decision was taken to not pursue the story any further as the CPS said its investigation had been curtailed due to a lack of evidence.


    The emails show that Newsnight journalists believed other news outlets, including News International and Sky were aware of the story.


    An email from Meirion Jones urged the broadcast to go ahead because he said it would come out eventually, adding: "We know News International are all over this story. Some of the victims were called by Sky."

    1357: Mark, Reading

    emails: Isn't the problem here, in essence, one of the culture of the top of the BBC? It is a closed, middle class cabal of over-promoted management generalists with a patronising view of the intellect of their audience, a fervent belief that hierarchical decision-making beats both commonsense and brains, and a fear of any scandal that can't be swept under the corporate carpet. As a result, they forced the slimy Mr Savile upon to us, told themselves everything was fine when rumours surfaced and, as a bunch, looked the other way for years.

    1358: colixo

    comments: People need to realise that this type of collusion through inactivity happens all the time, every day. People are shocked in hindsight, but in reality most people would do little more than people at the BBC did if presented with the same scenario. Few people actually possess the independence of mind to speak out in such situations. This is just an unfortunate fact of human social psychology.

    1358: Steve Lynham

    comments: In 1973 I was a young teacher. I saw another teacher smiling a lot at an 11-year-old girl pupil and patting her on the head. I felt uncomfortable. I reported the matter to the Headmaster. The teacher was given advice about his behaviour and I noticed he became less 'tactile'. Why couldn't Savile's colleagues have shown this level of concern and, if they did, then why was it allowed to continue?

    1402: Soul News

    comments: There was common gossip about Jimmy Savile and jokes at my school, and many others in the UK. It wasn't based on any knowledge, just on the implication and possibilities of an old guy 'fixing it' for lots of young people. What I want to know is whether the common gossip, rumours and jokes at the BBC were based on more than those in general society?

    1403: barryp

    comments: There is a danger approaching for the principle of innocent until PROVEN Guilty. Common gossip is called bullying at school, slander in adult courts. By all means, if you have 'suspicions' bring them to an appropriate authority, but let's not forget the massive number of false allegations made that have damaged the lives of innocent people.

    1403: thehighestapple

    comments: I'm just sorry this all came to light after he died. He can never be called to account and he'll never know his despicable actions finally - and rightly - came back to bite him.

    1408: Obania

    comments: If I had walked past a building site and observed an unsafe act that later caused the death of a person I would be culpable. If I suspected I had evidence that the police could use in a murder investigation and did not come forward with it, I would be culpable. How is it that the BBC personalities who say JS's behaviour was common knowledge think that this does not also apply them?

    1409: cyprus-hound

    comments: The BBC should not be blacking out parts of peoples statements given to Pollard. Why should it worry about libel actions as it would pay up using our money anyway? This is simply the BBC protecting its own so-called overpaid and incompetent executives who could not make a decision if their lives depended upon it. Trust in the BBC? Absolutely not.

    1410: quijibo81

    comments: Whatever the BBC did, and whatever they released, was never going to be enough for a lot of people, some of whom just want to see a figurehead sacked even if they had nothing to do with the incident. The crimes are amongst the worst possible, but the real anger should be reserved for the perpetrator of the crimes, who struck in various places, and not used as a gratuitous stick to beat the BBC.

    1410: NormanS

    comments: The newspapers knew about Savile 30 years ago and did nothing. They share the blame for his continuing abuse of young people.

    1412: 2112phil

    comments: The man is dead and cannot be prosecuted for his crimes. The only beneficiaries from this seem to be the lawyers jumping on the lets sue the BBC bandwagon. I don't in any way condone these heinous acts but am I alone in finding the sue for you brigade equally distasteful.

    1416: JDavisabc

    comments: The NSPCC said they absolutely don't want Savile working for their charity. Is that not good enough for Mr Paxman? There's no smoke without fire!

    1418: blindhelix

    comments: Reading these comments, I can see why people abused in their childhood often don't speak up at all. Perhaps there are SOME false accusations, but how damaging to those genuine cases to be branded as gold-diggers and bandwagon-jumpers. It should never be 'too late' to seek help and report your abuser

    Jimmy Savile

    Jimmy Savile, who died in 2011 aged 84, sexually abused hundreds of people during 60 years in entertainment, police say.

    1419: Megan

    comments: When someone is no longer around to defend himself, that is all any of these allegations can ever be - gossip. This in no way dismisses genuine concerns or those who believe that they were abused, but as no conviction in a court of law is possible, there's an end to it. At least McAlpine has been able to defend his good name, when the gossips tried to besmirch it.

    1420: Robert Sinclair Shand

    comments: It was not just a case of management not listening. It is still the case that even at this time they are totally incapable of listening - solely because of the inherited arrogance of their unintelligent class culture which believes that what others do is none of their business so long as it does not affect them, and, their position within their own social structure.

    1422: Sixp

    comments: People hear tittle-tattle and rumour, this may be true or malicious and isn't enough to act on. The people to blame are those who worked with him (on outside broadcasts, etc) who witnessed this behaviour, and also manager's who heard rumours and did not investigate and see if accusations had any substance. Leave it to the Police to deal with any who indulged in illegality - otherwise let's move on.


    That concludes our live coverage of reaction to the Pollard inquiry evidence. You can keep up-to-date with further developments in the story on the BBC news website .


    You can also read some of the key quotes from those interviewed as part of the inquiry here.


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