BBC IN NEW SAVILE COVER UP
Senior staff allowed to censor inquiry evidence about themselves
THE BBC is at the centre of another ‘cover-up’ storm after it was claimed employees have been permitted to censor criticism of their handling of the Jimmy Savile scandal.
This week will see the publication of a potentially damning report following an inquiry into how the Beeb ran its probe into the late, disgraced paedo TV presenter.
Headed by Nick Pollard, a former head of Sky News, the review focuses on why a Newsnight investigation into the Savile abuse claims was scrapped. It’s spawned thousands of pages of statements from witnesses, which are thought to contain criticisms of several members of staff.
However, according to sources, 19 Beeb employees – many of whom are condemned in the report – have been allowed to cast their eyes over the transcripts and GET RID of the bits they don’t like.
Furthermore, it is alleged that the BBC even offered to give the members of staff up to £3,500 each so they could pay lawyers to help them redact the references.
If every one of them has taken up the offer, the BBC will have to shell out £66,500 of licence-payers’ money.
The revelations are likely to bring renewed flak to the Beeb, which has had to weather the Savile storm for the past six months.
A BBC insider said: “All those who have given evidence were being offered the opportunity to look at the evidence of others and to redact others’ evidence.
“They were offered £3,500 worth of legal expenses in order that lawyers could go through the evidence.
“It is absolutely staggering that you’re allowed to redact someone else’s evidence if you don’t like it. The fact that someone on the end of criticism can distort what was said about them seems bizarre.”
According to the source, the statements were held in rooms in an unnamed BBC building in London last week, so that the employees and their lawyers could inspect them for personal criticisms and request for them to be deleted.
Some big names were said to be among those singled out for blame before certain censures were removed from testimonies.
Meanwhile, it is understood that Peter Rippon, who stood down as Newsnight editor amid the furore in October, is still collecting a £150,000 salary despite having no official post at the corporation.
The source added: “What I find staggering about this is that not a single person has been sacked.
“Nobody has lost their job.”
Former Top Of The Pops host Savile is accused of sexually assaulting scores of women, many of them under the age of consent, before his death in 2011.
A BBC spokesman said: “The BBC has offered a small capped amount in legal fees to those who wish to make legal representations on the Pollard material that we will publish.”
SICK: Beeb Savile probe in line of fire
UNDER FIRE: BBC bosses face more flak