Panorama probes BBC Savile decision

A Panorama report on Sir Jimmy Savile could pile more pressure on BBC Director General George Entwistle

A Panorama report on Sir Jimmy Savile could pile more pressure on BBC Director General George Entwistle

First published in National News © by

The BBC is to broadcast a Panorama special examining Newsnight's decision to drop an investigation into Jimmy Savile's abuse of children.

The programme - which as yet does not have a confirmed time slot and is still being made - will see one BBC flagship pore over the apparent failings of another as the corporation aims to answer questions of editorial integrity.

The Panorama special could result in more difficult questions for Director General George Entwistle when he appears on Tuesday at the Commons select committee for Culture, Media and Sport.

The BBC has already announced two inquiries: one into its culture and practices led by Dame Janet Smith, and another by former Sky News boss Nick Pollard probing why Newsnight dropped its programme into Savile's sex abuse.

It is believed Panorama has an extensive email chain between Newsnight staff including editor Peter Rippon and his investigative reporters who include Liz MacKean and Meirion Jones.

The correspondence is understood to show that Newsnight reporters were focusing on the entertainer's abuse and not, as the corporation later stated, Surrey Police's decision to drop its investigation into the presenter.

The inquiry into Savile's alleged child abuse on Friday became a formal criminal investigation involving other living people.

Scotland Yard launched Operation Yewtree, moving the force's involvement from an assessment to a criminal investigation after detectives established there are lines of inquiry involving "living people that require formal investigation".

The Met said two weeks of gathering information involved assessing more than 400 leads and identified more than 200 potential victims. Claims also emerged about fellow entertainers Freddie Starr, who has staunchly refuted the allegations, as well as Gary Glitter - real name Paul Gadd.

As well as police investigations, inquiries are taking place into Savile's involvement with Stoke Mandeville Hospital, Broadmoor and Leeds General Infirmary. Police previously said Savile's alleged catalogue of sex abuse could have spanned six decades.

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