Saturday, October 13, 2012

Entwhistle"s Savile Row Escalates

I see the Independent is reporting that Meirion Jones, a former senior Newsnight journalist who worked on the original Panorama investigation, is understood to be heading a new programme about Savile that will broaden its investigation to look at the conduct of other BBC presenters past and present, promising further embarrassment for the corporation. Daily Mail has already published accusations about John Peel, though the circumstances seem to be very, very different.

The BBC was due to broadcast three tribute programmes to Savile last Christmas. George Entwistle, then head of the BBC’s television channels, had been made aware that a Newsnight investigation was underway by Helen Boaden, BBC head of news. But he said he had not been told that Newsnight planned to report allegations of serious sexual assault

As the excellent OurBeeb forum pointed out last night, George Entwhistle seems to be handling the situation rather poorly. Reminds me of Greg Dyke after Hutton. It seems to me to be focussing now on why Entwhistle decided to go ahead with scheduling a tribute to Jimmy Savile when he knew that Panorama had made a programme about him which examined the evidence. Bearing in mind that the BBC, like other broadcasters, is well known to cancel programmes when a storyline gets too close to a sensitive issue (it would be like scheduling Towering Inferno in the week of 9/11), why didn't that happen in this case? I think we need to be told rather fast. 

And will all the blame fall on Peter Rippon? He was the BBC Newsnight editor who quashed the report into Sir Jimmy Savile’s criminal activities.  Rippon has not made an on-camera appearance since the Savile scandal erupted two weeks ago.

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