A spokeman for Mark Thompson has now told me:
‘Mark will not be making any statement on this issue other than to reinforce what was said to the Sunday Times, namely that he verbally agreed to the tactic of sending a legal letter to the paper, but was not involved in its drafting, nor was he aware of the detail beyond the central and false allegation put to the BBC that he had influenced the decision to abandon Newsnight’s investigation into Jimmy Savile. Such legal letters are a common occurrence at the BBC and Mark would invariably follow the advice of the legal and press teams. As Mark has repeatedly made clear, he was not aware of the allegations against Jimmy Savile until the pre-publicity ahead of the ITV documentary’.
I’m grateful that Mark has responded. I note that his spokesman:
1. Does not dispute that a letter from a solicitor representing him was sent to the Sunday Times threatening legal action if they published.
2.Does not dispute that the email from the Sunday Times referred to assaults on BBC premises.
3.Does not dispute that the reply from the solicitors representing him referred to BBC premises.
Readers will draw their own conclusion from the revelation that a letter threatening personal,not corporate,legal action on behalf of the the Director-General of the BBC would be sent to one of the UK’s leading newspapers as a ‘tactic’ without the DG being aware of the full detail.
Should there be any doubt about whether Mark Thompson was still DG when the Mills and Reeve letter was sent on September 6th,the letter specifically refers to him as DG and when, ten days later, Mark Thompson appeared on the Andrew Marr Show on BBC1 on 16th September that day,the 16th, was described in the programme-and in the report on the BBC website- as ‘ his last day as director general of the BBC’. Source:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-19615708
The reply also raises the question of who was paying Mills and Reeve to act for Thompson and Boaden. The spokesman says ‘such legal letters are a common occurrence at the BBC and Mark would invariably follow the advice of the legal and press teams’. But the Mills and Reeve letter ( see the extract in last week’s Sunday Times) says ‘Dear Sirs,BBC Newsnight.We act for Helen Boaden,Director of BBC News Group and Mark Thompson,Director-General of the BBC’. The letter doesnt say Mills and Reeve act for the BBC itself.
. Helen Boaden has not yet taken up my invitation to respond to the blog.