BBC inquiry must answer Stuart Hall claims, says Lord Patten

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Media captionLord Patten: "We have to... satisfy people that we've been prepared to deal with our own dirty washing"

The BBC must "provide answers" as to how broadcaster Stuart Hall was able to abuse girls while working at the corporation, Lord Patten has said.

News reports have claimed fellow BBC staff may have helped Hall, who has admitted indecently assaulting 13 girls, gain access to victims.

The BBC Trust chairman said the claims were "appalling" and would be addressed by Dame Janet Smith's ongoing inquiry.

She is reviewing the BBC's culture and practices following the Savile scandal.

The BBC said: "All allegations that have been made to the BBC in relation to Stuart Hall have been passed on to the police or the Dame Janet Smith Review that is looking at the culture of the BBC from 1965 to 2006."

The inquiry was set up in the wake of revelations that the late Jimmy Savile - also a former BBC presenter - had sexually abused more than 200 people over decades, including on BBC premises.

The former Appeal Court judge's review is looking at whether culture and practices at the corporation during the 60s, 70s and 80s enabled abuse to continue unchecked.

On Thursday, Linda McDougall, a former colleague of Hall's, told the BBC he was "one of these people who had his hands all over you".

The political writer worked with the presenter at BBC Manchester in the late 60s and 70s. She recalled how he occupied a private room in the building and it was common knowledge that he would entertain female visitors there.

Newspaper reports have also included allegations that BBC staff helped Hall abuse his victims, including on BBC premises.

'Dirty washing'

Responding to the claims on the BBC One's Andrew Marr Show, Lord Patten said: "If that was the case - and Janet Smith is looking at it - then we want to see that evidence, we want to get it out in public and get it out in that way because it is intolerable."

But he added: "I think to set up a new inquiry, when there is already one which is extremely well-resourced operating would probably delay arriving at the truth.

"If we need to do more, we will. At the end of the day, what we have to do is to provide answers which will satisfy people that we have been prepared to deal with our own dirty washing."

Asked by guest presenter Jeremy Vine whether the BBC faced paying compensation to Hall's victims, Lord Patten said: "I imagine so, but that will be a matter for the lawyers and conceivably the courts."

He declined to estimate the cost of compensation, saying: "I think it would be incredible to be able to do that now because first of all what needs to happen is that we need to be able to get a grip on what happened and of course, in the meantime, co-operate with the police."

He went on: "It's a different case from the Savile case because the main person who is alleged to have committed these crimes, who has committed these crimes... is actually alive."

Earlier this month, Hall admitted 14 charges of indecently assaulting girls, one aged nine.

The 83-year-old, of Wilmslow, Cheshire, pleaded guilty at Preston Crown Court to the offences, involving 13 victims, which occurred between 1967 and 1985.

The ex-host of the BBC game show It's a Knockout was bailed and is due to be sentenced on 17 June.

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