LONDON — U.K. broadcaster the BBC is set to be rocked by yet another damaging controversy as a judge’s inquiry into the pedophile crimes of veteran TV presenter Jimmy Savile is reported to have found that the corporation’s staff turned a blind eye to his activities. The inquiry is said to have discovered that there could have been up to a thousand victims over the 40 years or so that Savile was a BBC employee, and one its biggest stars.
The report by Janet Smith, a former court of appeal judge, will say that senior BBC executives knew about Savile’s activities but took no action, the Observer newspaper said Sunday.
The Smith report is not due to be published until next month at the earliest, but a source close to the inquiry told the Observer: “The numbers are shocking. Many hundreds and potentially up to 1,000 people were victims of Savile when he was representing the corporation.”
The source added: “It will go right to the heart of how Savile was able to get away with the most heinous of crimes under the very noses of BBC staff for more than 40 years.”
Smith’s team has written to every member of BBC staff past and present to ask them whether they had any information about Savile’s crimes to allow Smith to understand how the presenter continued to offend for so long.
The National Assn. for People Abused in Childhood has been consulted by Smith’s team. Its chief executive Peter Saunders told the Observer: “In Savile’s lifetime I wouldn’t doubt (that 1,000 people had been abused by him on BBC property). The other thing I have found extraordinary, and very sad, is the number of people I have spoken to connected to the BBC, and that is a lot of people, who said: ‘Oh yes, we all knew about him.’ “