Chris Patten, the chairman of the BBC Trust, has defended the BBC’s handling of the Jimmy Savile sex abuse scandal.
Acknowledging that the affair had done “terrible damage” to the Beeb’s reputation, Patten said that the performance of director general George Entwistle before a committee of politicians on Tuesday was “a baptism of fire.”
Patten, a former Hong Kong governor who appointed Entwistle in July, said, “This great tsunami of filth broke over him 11 days into the job.
“Our main concern has to be for the victims of abuse and worse who have been marooned for years, trying to tell their stories and not being believed, including, it seems, by the BBC, and to deal with the terrible damage to the BBC.”
There have been calls for Patten and Entwistle to stand down following what many commentators regard as the BBC’s inadequate response to the revelations about celebrity host Savile, sparked by an ITV docu screened in the U.K. Oct 3.
Patten admitted he had not read newspaper articles sent to him in January and February, which broke the news that the BBC’s “Newsnight” investigation into Savile had been dropped in December.
At the time Entwistle was responsible for BBC Television and was planning a number of tributes to Savile, a serial sex abuser, over Christmas. Savile died in October, 2011, age 84.
Patten was interviewed by the BBC Radio 4 public affairs program “The World at One.”