While a level of “chaos and confusion” existed atop the BBC, executives leading the venerable broadcaster did nothing malicious when they canceled an investigative report into former star Jimmy Savile.
That’s the crucial finding from a report released today that attempts to understand how the BBC aired tributes to Savile instead of an investigation into decades of alleged abuse against children by the host, ITV reported.
“When the full force of the affair broke in October of this year, the BBC’s management system proved completely incapable of dealing with it,” the report’s chief investigator, Nick Pollard, told a news conference today.
“The level of chaos and confusion was even greater than apparent at the time.”
It took BBC a month to react after rival broadcaster ITV aired its Savile investigation, Pollard said.
Savile hosted children’s programs at BBC for decades before his death at age 84 last year, The Associated Press said.
Police are building a case that involves Savile in 199 abuse allegations and dozens of rape charges.
BBC canceled a Newsnight investigative report into Savile, and former Sky News executive Pollard tried to learn why in his report.
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“The ‘Newsnight’ investigators got the story right,” Pollard said, according to the AP. “They had found clear and compelling evidence that Jimmy Savile was a pedophile.”
Spiking the story “was clearly flawed, and the way it was taken was wrong, though I believe it was taken in good faith,” Pollard added.
The BBC said it accepted blame, although it’s relieved the findings didn’t reveal any “improper pressure” to kill the hard-hitting story for tributes, acting director general Tim Davie said.
“It remains critical that we do not lose sight of the most important issue in this – the many victims of sexual abuse by Savile,” Maria Miller, the UK’s Culture Secretary, said in a BBC story online.
“I urge the BBC to now focus on the review into those abuses, and ensure it is swift and transparent.”
This is the second scandal to slam the BBC after another Newsnight program incorrectly identified a senior politician as a pedophile.
“This has been a grave breach which had been costly to all concerned,” a 35-page report also released today says.
“The trustees wish to put on record an apology to Lord McAlpine and to the public for this serious failure of BBC journalism.”
The investigation into abuse in North Wales care homes 40 years ago aired on Nov. 2.
An alleged victim said former politician Lord Alistair McAlpine was an abuser, a claim the victim later apologized for making.
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