The BBC crisis over the Jimmy Savile sex abuse scandal has moved into another phase, when it emerged Friday that senior managers sat on new information for 20 days over the dumped “Newsnight” probe without informing BBC Trust chairman Chris Patten.
The latest disclosure came on the BBC’s radio news program “The World at One,” with media commentator Steve Hewlett, a former BBC editor, saying the affair has become “very, very poisonous.”
On Oct. 22 the BBC acknowledged inaccuracies had been made in an Oct. 2 blog by “Newsnight” editor Peter Rippon, in which he claimed his program abandoned its investigation into Savile because it could not stand up allegations that the police had not found enough evidence to prosecute the BBC star.
But it has emerged that the following day, BBC director of editorial policy David Jordan was told “Newsnight” had evidence suggesting that Savile had abused under-age girls on BBC premises.
Despite this, the BBC did not correct Rippon’s blog until Oct. 22. The “Newsnight” editor was effectively suspended the same day.
It now looks increasingly likely that Patten will insist on senior resignations at the pubcaster over the scandal.
On Thursday Patten told ITV News that he would be “not be surprised” if there were resignations at the BBC.
Later interviewed by Sky News he said that George Entwistle, the Beeb’s director general, who took over last month, and others involved “have legitimate questions to answer.”
As well as Entwistle and Jordan, head of news Helen Boaden will be feeling the heat at what is an increasingly fractious BBC.
Observers believe that Patten must be regretting appointing Entwistle, formerly head of BBC Vision, and forcing out the pubcaster’s experienced chief operating officer, Caroline Thomson, who left last month.