The ‘Newsnight Crisis’ at the BBC: A new timeline from the death of Savile to the appointment of Hall.

Introduction

Tony Hall is an excellent appointment as the new Director-General of the BBC.Before Tony takes up the post in March Nick Pollard will have published his review commissioned by the BBC to consider ‘whether any inappropriate managerial pressure or consideration may have the influenced the decision of the Editor of Newsnight’ after his programme’s investigation into Jimmy Savile.

I have produced a new timeline which starts at a much earlier date than my previous one and has more detail, plus links to video, audio and transcripts.

It runs from the death of Savile to the appointment of Tony Hall and looks at many issues not within Nick Pollard’s terms of reference.

Consider it my contribution to the BBC ‘moving on’. I hope this blogpost will be a useful resource for those interested in what most people now accept has been the BBC’s biggest crisis of trust.

The post has been put together with the help of three students on the post-graduate course in investigative journalism here at City University London. My thanks to Camilla Turner, Dan Martin and Margi Murphy for giving up some of their spare time to help. I remain responsible for any errors or omissions and if you think you see any please reply via this blog or email me at s.purvis@city.ac.uk. Please note my declarations of interest in the ‘About’ section of the blog.

In the timeline I offer commentary at certain key points but I do not come to any conclusions about whether pressure was put on the Editor of Newsnight to drop the Savile investigation.

The Pollard review has the necessary access to internal BBC emails and to evidence from the key players themselves to make a decision about that. But in advance of the publication of the Pollard review I am able to highlight certain issues.

By beginning the timeline at the death of Savile and the Newsnight investigation into the allegations against him it becomes clear to me how many times what the Newsnight journalists discovered about Savile was put to BBC management over the following nine months, and how many missed opportunities there were for the management to take some positive follow-up action. Instead the management, primarily focused on denying allegations of improper pressure on the Editor, sought to limit the damage to the BBC’s reputation by being economical with the truth about the nature of the original investigation and missed the seriousness of the core allegations about what had happened on their premises.

Even as late as two days before the ITV programme in October this year it was still saying that it was ‘simply not possible for the corporation to take any further action.’

By extending the end of the timeline to include the Newsnight report on allegations of child abuse in North Wales against an unnamed Conservative from the Thatcher era, it becomes clear that warnings were missed by the editorial and legal team before transmission that if they contacted Lord McAlpine, he would strongly deny the allegations.

Here’s a summary of four of the new points in this timeline:

1. When, on 22 October 2012, the BBC corrected three mistakes in Peter Rippon’s blog on 2 October 2012 they did not correct what appears to me to be the most serious mistake in the blog and it remains uncorrected on the BBC website.

In the blog Rippon posed the question: ‘Why did I pursue this story about Jimmy Savile and why did I drop it?

He then wrote: ‘I decided we should pursue the story because of the nature of the allegations and because the key witness told us the police had investigated the claims but the case had been dropped on the grounds he was too old’. The ‘he’ is Savile.

I can see no evidence to support the statement ‘the key witness told us the police had investigated the claims but the case had been dropped on the grounds he was too old’.

In the blog Peter Rippon never named ‘the key witness’ but I believe there is little doubt who the key witness in the Newsnight investigation was. It was Karin Ward, whose allegations against Savile were  an important starting point of the investigation and who was the only victim who had gone on camera and agreed to be named.

I have confirmed that Karin Ward had no contact with the police about Savile until she went to them following her appearance on the ITV programme Exposure which was broadcast in October 2012, nearly a year after the Newsnight investigation. So it is not possible that she passed on to Newsnight, during their investigation into Savile, any information she received from the police because at that time she hadn’t even met the police. It is possible that from her contact with other former colleagues at the Duncroft Approved School she heard reports of a police investigation but I can find no evidence that she ever told Newsnight about them. The only explanation I can offer for Rippon’s claim is that Newsnight had talked to one other woman, not interviewed on camera, and not a key witness who told them at one point that she knew of a letter from the Surrey police citing Savile’s age .It has subsequently been established by The Mail that no such letter existed.

2. The BBCs public position that the Newsnight investigation was into the handling of the allegations against Savile by the Surrey Police and the Crown Prosecution did not originate, as many people assume, from the time of the ITV documentary in October this year but goes as far back as December last year.

The Newsnight reporter Liz MacKean has given a very different description of the genesis of her investigation: ‘The story we were investigating was very clear cut. It was about Jimmy Savile being a paedophile and using his status as a charity fundraiser and television presenter to get access to places where there were vulnerable teenage girls he could abuse.’

The BBC has corrected a statement by one executive that the Newsnight investigation ‘started’ as one into the Surrey Police’s handling of the case (the same executive also said that the investigation was ‘never into Savile himself’) but it has never withdrawn its basic ‘it was an investigation into the Surrey Police/CPS’ version.

The Pollard review should be able to decide from access to internal emails and draft scripts whether the BBC‘s corporate and much-repeated position is an accurate description of the investigation or whether the public has been deliberately or accidentally misled.

3. I have established that there are at least ten days when Mark Thompson was the Director-General of the BBC, on which that it is reasonable to expect that his office at the BBC would have received information about allegations of Savile assaulting women on BBC premises in the form of either press cuttings, emails from inside or outside the BBC or phone calls from journalists. I list those days at the end of the timeline. Mark Thompson has said ‘During my time as director general of the BBC, I never heard any allegations or received any complaints about Jimmy Savile.’ The Pollard review may be able to cast more light on this.

4. A lack of clarity persists about what exactly was said in the ‘ten second conversation’ between Helen Boaden and George Entwistle about Savile at the Women in Film and Television lunch in London on 2nd December. There is a new twist with the discovery that Peter Rippon was also present at this lunch  so would have been available to give Boaden and Entwistle his latest thoughts had they asked him..

I have sent invitations to respond to these points to the BBC,Mark Thompson at the New York Times and Peter Rippon.

So far the BBC has not responded.

A  spokesman for Mark Thompson has told me that Mark won’t be making any further comment beyond what he has already said on the record about his involvement in this case.

The spokesman recalled that Mark Thompson has said in the past:

*He was not briefed on the press stories which I  highlighted, and the head of his office, by her own admission, did not raise with him Miles Goslett’s telephone call in May.

*He gave verbal assent to a legal letter being sent to the Sunday Times to deny in the strongest of terms the central allegation that he put pressure on Newsnight to abandon the Jimmy Savile investigation.

*He was not briefed or made aware of the underlying allegations at this point. He only became aware of the underlying allegations once he left office, in the few days in advance of the transmission of the ITV documentary.

The solicitor representing Peter Rippon told me ‘My client is unable to make a public statement at this time’.

The Timeline

29 October 2011

Sir Jimmy Savile, Order of the British Empire, Knight Commander of the Order of Saint Gregory the Great, Honorary Doctor of Law, Honorary Doctor of Arts, Honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Radiologists, Freeman of the Borough of Scarborough, dies aged 84.

News of Savile’s death is a national story and the BBC website publishes a full report looking back on his life. There is also a video report by Nick Higham which concludes: ‘In the end he was simply a puzzle, perhaps a profoundly lonely man who craved attention but found consolation in doing good’.

Mark Thompson, Director-General of the BBC, issues a statement: ‘I am very sad to hear of Sir Jimmy Savile’s death. From Top of the Pops to Jim’ll Fix It, Jimmy’s unique style entertained generations of BBC audiences. Like millions of viewers and listeners we shall miss him greatly’. Source

31 October 2011

Newsnight producer Meirion Jones has been gathering information about Savile for some time. His aunt, Margaret Jones, was the headmistress of the Duncroft Approved School for Girls in Surrey for two decades. Savile regularly visited this school. At this stage there is no public knowledge of any police inquiry into Savile’s activities at the school or anywhere else

On 31 October Jones pitches the Savile story to the Editor of Newsnight, Peter Rippon. He shows Rippon what Karin Ward, a former pupil at Duncroft, has written online about her abuse by somebody described as a cigar-smoking celebrity with his own BBC programme. She refers to him online as ‘JS.’ Jones is given the go-ahead by Rippon to do more work on the story with reporter Liz MacKean.

Jones and MacKean arrange an interview with Karin Ward about her time at Duncroft. As they develop their investigations they get the first indications that the police may have looked into similar allegations and that victims may have letters from the police.

11 November 2011

As ‘a special tribute to Sir Jimmy Savile’ BBC One transmits a documentary about him called As It Happened, narrated by Chris Evans. This is the first of four different tribute programmes that are to be transmitted by the BBC before the end of 2011.

Watch the programme on Youtube here

14 November

Liz MacKean interviews Karin Ward on camera. Karin Ward says: ‘I can remember seeing him [Gary Glitter] having sex with one of the girls from Duncroft, in Jimmy Savile’s dressing room.’ She said the room was ‘packed’ with people and Savile, who was present when the abuse was taking place, ‘laughed about it.’

Glitter denies the claims.

Watch the Panorama programme

As Liz MacKean and the team drive back to base they hear that the BBC has announced its most high profile tribute to Savile – a Christmas one-off edition of Jim’ll Fix It. The BBC News website says: ‘The special will be hosted by EastEnders star Shane Ritchie who has called it ‘compulsive television.’ BBC One controller Danny Cohen said: ‘I think it will be a great tribute to Jimmy to recreate his famous show as a Christmas treat for audiences.’

The Newsnight team conclude that if their investigation proves that Savile was a paedophile the tribute will not be able to go ahead. They continue their work and discover recordings of old Clunk-Click programmes that have survived with significant sequences featuring Savile.

15 November – 25 November 2011

The Newsnight team continue their investigation. They find three other victims who tell similar stories of abuse to Karin Ward but unlike her are not prepared to be interviewed on camera. They also speak to six other witnesses. Mark Williams-Thomas, a former police officer specialising in investigating child abuse, is working with the Newsnight team partly to improve their links with the police. Newsnight learn that the police had investigated Savile in 2007 based on historic allegations of indecent assault which took place at the children’s home in Staines during the 1970s. The police say that at the time, they had interviewed some of the girls involved. This corroborates with evidence Newsnight already had from girls who said they had been to the police about Savile.

Newsnight learn that the police had taken the allegations against Savile seriously enough to hand the file over to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). However, the CPS advised that there was insufficient evidence to take any further action.

The Newsnight team also discover that there have been complaints about Savile to police forces in a number of other areas. But as there is no national police pooling of this information, no bigger picture has yet emerged.

The fact that the police had investigated Savile, and passed the case to the CPS, is regarded as crucial evidence by the Newsnight team, as it shows that the case was at one point being treated as a serious investigation.

25 November 2011

After being informed that the Surrey police questioned Savile over sex abuse claims , Rippon gives the programme the green light. He emails the Newsnight team: ‘Excellent, we can then pull together the tx [transmission] plan.’

29 November 2011

A draft script for Newsnight’s Savile report is prepared. A potential ‘on-camera interview’ is mentioned at the very top of it. The script is sent to a BBC lawyer and to Peter Rippon. The script or a summary of it is shown it to the BBC News ‘Impact Team’. Their role is to make sure that when one part of the BBC breaks a story other parts know about it and can pick it up. The ‘impact team’ believe the story of abuse by Savile is going to be big. An internal email says there will be ‘a huge amount of interest’ in Newsnight‘s film and “all domestic outlets would want to run it”.

On the same day the launch of the Christmas schedule is happening and with it the publication, internally and externally, of the full Christmas schedule containing the Savile tribute programming.

30 November 2011

The day after the launch of the schedule Rippon has an ‘abrupt’ change of heart over the planned programme, according to Newsnight reporter Liz MacKean. She sends an email to a friend:

‘PR [Peter Rippon] says if the bosses aren’t happy… [he] can’t go to the wall on this one.’ This is the first indication that Rippon may have discussed the investigation with more senior BBC executives. This may also have been the process in which Director of BBC News Helen Boaden tells Rippon ‘just because Jimmy Savile was dead, it didn’t mean there could be any skimping in journalistic standards, and that the usual BBC standards would apply’ (as later revealed to the Commons CMS Committee by George Entwistle.)

Rippon sends an email to Newsnight producer Meirion Jones:

‘Having pondered this overnight I think the key is whether we can establish the CPS did drop the case for the reasons the women say. That makes it a better story – our sources so far are just the women and a second-hand briefing.’

Commentary: Rippon’s reference to ‘the reasons the women say’ is significant. The Newsnight team had been told by reliable sources that the CPS did not prosecute because of lack of evidence. But one of the women Newsnight have talked to off camera, identified only as ‘Fiona’, says she has a letter from the Surrey Police saying that they did not prosecute Savile because he was too old. Rippon seems to attach importance to this. Liz MacKean emails the woman saying they need the letter. Jones himself attaches less importance to it and is not entirely sure the letter even exists. In any case no such letter is ever received by Newsnight.

1 December 2011

A second on-camera interview is recorded by the Newsnight team. The interview was with Rochelle Shepherd, an ex Duncroft pupil who talked about Savile sticking his tongues down girls’ throats. Rochelle’s account was based solely on Duncroftand corroborated the accounts of abuse that Newsnight already had.

Newsnight now has the following:

-five accounts of abuse by Savile, three of which included abuse at TV Centre

-a separate account of abuse at Stoke Mandeville Hospital

-a further four accounts (including Rochelle’s) that offered corroboration of what they had been told

Also on 1 December, Rippon emails Meirion Jones, the Newsnight producer. The email is titled ‘Cops’. It says:

‘I assume still no word? I think we should stop working on the other elements until we know for sure what we are likely to get from them because we don’t really have a strong enough story without it. I’ll pull editing etc for now.’

This appears to be Rippon wanting to hear what the Crown Prosecution Service Press Office has got to say. This also appears to be his priority in the story.

Although Rippon says he will ‘pull editing etc for now’ Jones and the team continue filming and preparing the edit of the Savile piece as an argument develops between Jones and Rippon over the next few days .

2 December 2011

BBC director of news Helen Boaden is said to have told George Entwistle, then director of BBC Vision in a at a Women in Television and Film lunch that he may have to change the Christmas schedules because of the Newsnight investigation.

Entwistle later tells the Commons Committee on 23 October 2012 that he recalled the conversation Helen Boaden in which she told him that Newsnight was investigating sex abuse allegations about the DJ. Entwistle said the conversation lasted ‘about 10 seconds’ and added that it was ‘a busy lunch’. Entwistle told the Commons Committee that the conversation ‘was words to the effect, “Newsnight are looking at Jimmy Savile. When it is clear if it is going to go ahead or not and whether it stands up, it may have implications for your schedule”.’

I have established that Peter Rippon was also present at this lunch and therefore would have been available to give Boaden his latest view of the investigation.

Commentary: This is an absolutely key moment and one which remains very opaque. Looking at this day in the timeline, Rippon has already decided that ‘we don’t really have a strong enough story’ and has ‘pulled editing for now’ but the team are still working on the story. So the BBC investigation will have to ascertain was  Helen Boaden’s motive in raising the issue of the Savile investigation be to alert him to the potential problem for his schedule or to reassure him the problem was under control? And did Boaden speak to Rippon at the lunch to get the latest update before she spoke to Entwistle?

5 December 2011

Half way through a scheduled edit day the Newsnight team are told to stop editing the Savile piece.

7 December 2011

Newsnight producer Meirion Jones emails Rippon to warn of ‘substantial damage to BBC reputation’ if the investigation is dropped.

Peter Rippon emails Meirion Jones ‘We are putting the cart well before the horse here.We have been looking into the story but it is far from clear it will ever be strong enough even for us to run it’.

BBC publicist Helen Deller, who is apparently unaware of Rippon’s decision, sends a ‘confidential’ email to him and Meirion Jones. She writes ‘Last time I talked with you and Meirion you were focusing on allegations of abuse with victims willing to speak on the record.’ The email reveals that the investigation was advanced enough for the press office to have prepared ’lines to take’ in response to expected media calls. Helen Deller writes that ‘we may well need to do a bit of managing around this’ and that ‘we should bear in mind how the BBC complaints team respond’.

9 December 2011

Crown Prosecution Service tells Newsnight that the reason it did not prosecute Savile was because of lack of evidence, not because he was too old and frail. In the light of this information, Rippon decides to end the investigation.

19 December 2011

Special edition of Jim’ll Fix It is recorded for transmission the following week

20 December 2011

BBC correspondent Caroline Hawley speaks to Mark Thompson about the investigation at a reception to mark the BBC’s coverage of the Arab Spring and mentions Newsnight’s investigation into Jimmy Savile.’
When Thompson later sought reassurances from BBC news editor Helen Boaden it is said he was told there would be no problem and ‘nobody said there was an allegation of sex abuse on BBC premises.’

21 December 2011

A freelance journalist Miles Goslett phones the BBC Press Office to check out a tip-off about a BBC news investigation into Jimmy Savile being called off. Among a series of points he puts to the BBC press office is that Newsnight has heard claims that Savile abused minors on BBC premises in the 1970s. He talks to Helen Deller the BBC publicist who knew from her earlier work that Newsnight had been, in her own words in that e-mail of 7 December, ‘focusing on allegations of abuse with victims willing to speak on the record’.

Commentary: This is another key moment in the timeline. One BBC tribute to Savile has already gone out, three more are scheduled to go out in the next few days including one on Christmas Day and one on Boxing Day. A BBC publicist who knows the background answers a call out of the blue which reveals that somebody outside the BBC now knows that the Newsnight investigation was about Savile at the BBC and that the investigation was stopped. She also knows that the freelance reporter wants to write a story for a national newspaper. Who she spoke to or emailed next and how they decided what to do could turn out to be interesting. One way of the BBC Press team establishing the correct picture at that time would have been to check the draft script of the abandoned item.

Later in the day Helen Deller emails Goslett to say that rather than keeping him hanging on ‘I will come back to you tomorrow morning.’

22 December 2011

Helen Deller deploys a technique used by many press offices. In an email she gives an official BBC statement on the record but in a phone call offers ‘background’ information which traditionally will be attributed not directly to the BBC but to a ‘BBC source’ or a ‘BBC aide’.

The official BBC statement comes in an email to Miles Goslett: ‘The BBC gathers information on hundreds of stories and not all make it to air. In this case the angle we were pursuing could not be substantiated.’

This statement does not say what ‘the angle we were pursuing’ is. But the ‘background info’ given in an earlier phone call was – according to a note which Goslett made at the time – that the story Newsnight had been investigating related to why the Crown Prosecution Service had dropped its inquiry into Savile, as opposed to Newsnight investigating claims that Savile was a paedophile per se. According to Goslett’s note, Helen Deller said that Newsnight had heard the CPS had dropped the case because of Savile’s age and celebrity. Deller said that having failed to secure the truth of this claim – because the CPS had denied this and told Newsnight that it had merely dropped the case through lack of evidence - Newsnight had abandoned the project.

A sceptical Goslett still believes that whatever the reason for dropping the Newsnight report there is an uncomfortable fit between the forthcoming BBC tributes to Savile and what the women have told Newsnight about Savile. He says he pitched that story to seven newspapers but was unable to get an article published in any of them in December 2011.

The BBC strategy for dealing with Goslett has been decided and implemented. The next month it will be deployed again with a different reporter (see 8 January)

25 December 2011 (Christmas Day)

BBC Radio Two transmits its tribute programme ‘Sir Jimmy Savile-in his Own Words’ at 9pm.

26 December 2011 (Boxing Day)

BBC One transmits a special edition of Jim’ll Fix It at 5.40pm.

28 December 2011

BBC Two transmits another tribute programme How’s About that Then at 7pm.

BBC Two also re-transmits the first tribute programme As it Happened at 11.30pm.

8 January 2012

The Sunday Mirror publishes the first story in a national newspaper about Newsnight and Savile.

The headline says: ‘BBC axe investigation into Sir Jimmy Savile and schoolgirls. Reporters investigated historic allegations about inappropriate behaviour of Jim’ll Fix It legend’.

The story by Nick Owens begins: ‘The BBC launched a two-month probe into sex claims against its own iconic presenter Sir Jimmy Savile… only for it to be axed by executives. Reporters investigated historic allegations about inappropriate behaviour relating to the Jim’ll Fix It legend. Bosses of flagship BBC2 show Newsnight launched the investigation into Sir Jimmy in the days after his death on October 29. But they were eventually ­ordered to scrap the report, which had been due on screen only days before a BBC One Christmas special celebrating the star’s work’.

‘A spokesman’ is quoted as saying: ‘The BBC gathers ­information on hundreds of stories and not all make it to air. In this case the angle we were pursuing could not be ­substantiated.’

There is also a quote from a ‘BBC aide’ –one of the terms used when the BBC gives information on a ’background basis’ – saying ‘Newsnight were investigating an alleged failing within the CPS and the programme was canned because they did not have enough proof to run the story’.

This is the first time the story appears and the first time that the BBC ‘line’ appears in print. Although the BBC gave the line to Goslett he wasn’t able to get his story published in a national newspaper.

The Sunday Mirror also has quotes from the Surrey Police and the CPS but there is no mention of the allegations being about assaults by Savile on young women while on BBC premises or that under-age girls were among the victims. The story also does not mention that Savile had been questioned by Surrey Police .

9 January 2012

The BBC’s Press cuttings service sent to Mark Thompson’s office should have included the story in the Sunday Mirror from the previous day and follow up stories in that day’s Mail and Sun.

16 January 2012

Freelance journalist Miles Goslett has not given up on the story and specifically on the angle so far unrevealed that some of the assaults were under-age girls and on BBC premises. He has had it turned down by seven papers but now gets a commission from the Oldie Magazine.

27 January 2012

The BBC says it is engaged in ‘sensible succession planning’ to replace the director general Mark Thompson. It follows newspaper speculation that he will leave the corporation towards the end of 2012, or the beginning of 2013. The chairman of the BBC Trust, Lord Patten, says that head-hunters had been appointed to search for Mr Thompson’s replacement. But the BBC insists there is no ‘immediate vacancy.’

29 January 2012

Second showing of BBC tribute to Savile How’s About that Then on BBC Two at 7pm.

8 February 2012

The Oldie magazine publishes Miles Goslett’s article which is the first to state that Newsnight‘s expose centred on underage girls of 14 or 15; the first to reveal that some of the abuse allegedly occurred on BBC premises in 1973/4 after recordings of Clunk-Click; the first to divulge that two other celebrities had been named to Newsnight as also of abusing girls with Savile on BBC premises; the first to reveal that Savile had been questioned by Surrey Police in 2007; and the first to allege that Mark Thompson knew about this before Christmas but did nothing. It also warns that other victims were preparing to speak out on the issue.

Goslett also writes about Mark Thompson: ‘a source has told me that Thompson was tackled about the axing of the report at a pre-Christmas drinks party, so he cannot claim to be ignorant of it.’

9 February 2012

There is a follow-up to the Oldie story in the Guardian diary. The relevant paragraph reads:

‘Highs and lows, meanwhile, for BBC2′s Newsnight. The high of Jeremy Paxman’s
interview with Katie Price on Tuesday night. A low of sorts today, as head
honchos at the BBC are forced again to fend off accusations that they dumped a
viable investigation into sexual abuse allegations once levelled against the
late Sir Jimmy Savile. First raised in the Sunday Mirror, the
claims are expanded and re-ventilated in the Oldie magazine, of all places, by
journalist Miles Goslett, who says the investigation was dropped to protect a
clutch of tribute shows planned to mark Sir Jimmy’s death. The Oldie claims that
two celebrities other than Savile were responsible, that some of the
misbehaviour occurred in Television Centre and that BBC director general Mark
Thompson was involved in the recent discussions about what should happen. Not
so, says the Beeb. Our inquiries did not relate to the allegations themselves -
which were investigated by Surrey police in 2007 but not proceeded with. “The
angle we were pursuing could not be substantiated.” Sir Jimmy is gone; the
controversies continue.’

10 February 2012

There is a page lead story in the Telegraph quoting the Oldie article.

11 February 2012

The Mirror has a story.

12 February 2012

Another follow-up, this time a short one in the Independent on Sunday diary.

13 February 2012

Another story in the Telegraph.

19 March 2012

Mark Thompson resigns as Director-General of the BBC.

He says: ‘This morning I told Lord Patten that I believe that an appropriate time for me to hand over to a successor and to step down as director general of the BBC would be the autumn of this year, once the Olympics and the rest of the amazing summer of 2012 are over.’

The process of appointing a successor gets underway and it soon become clear that two of the internal front runners are George Entwistle and Helen Boaden, The other two are Director of Audio and Music, Tim Davie, and Chief Operating Officer, Caroline Thomson.

16 April 2012

Miles Goslett sends the BBC a Freedom of Information request. He asks for, amongst other things, details of exchanges between four BBC executives, including Mark Thompson, about Savile and the Newsnight investigation as well as details of any contact the BBC had had with the police over claims that Savile ‘sexually molested minors on BBC premises in the 1970s.’

18 May 2012

The BBC reply to Goslett’s FOI request:

‘We have interpreted your request as relating to BBC News. The information you have requested is excluded from the Act because it is held for the purposes of “journalism, art or literature.” The BBC is therefore not obliged to provide this information to you and will not be doing so on this occasion’

Goslett contacts Jessica Cecil, the head of Mark Thompson’s office, and, he says, asks to talk to Thompson about the FOI response and about claims made to Newsnight that underage girls were abused on BBC premises by Savile or others . He says Cecil tells him to talk to the BBC Press Office. Goslett says Cecil has since told him that she did not pass on the details of the call to Mark Thompson. Goslett says that she said that she spoke instead to Paul Mylrea, the BBC’s Director of Communications. His job description says that he is is ‘responsible for all communications at the BBC’ and ‘provides strategic support and specialist communications advice to the Director-General and Executive Board’.

Goslett says he has since spoken to Paul Mylrea who confirms that Jessica Cecil did talk to him about her conversation with Miles Goslett. Goslett says Mylrea told him he was only made aware by Cecil of Goslett’s complaint about the way the FOI request had been handled and was not informed about the mention of allegations of Savile’s assaults on under-age girls on BBC premises and that he did not pass on any mention of the call to Mark Thompson.

.

4 July 2012

The Chairman of the BBC Trust, Lord Patten, announces that George Entwistle has been appointed to succeed Mark Thompson as director general of the BBC, a post which he will take up in September on a salary of £450,000 per year.

5 August 2012

The Sunday Mirror runs a story saying that a forthcoming ITV programme will name Jimmy Savile as a paedophile and say he assaulted underage girls on BBC premises.

A similar story appears in The Mail on Sunday.

6 August 2012

There are follow-ups in The Mirror and The Mail.

14 August 2012

Mark Thompson is appointed CEO of The New York Times. He will take up the job in November.

22 August 2012

Miles Goslett is now working on the story for the Sunday Times Magazine in collaboration with a senior editor on the magazine and its legal department. The Sunday Times sends a series of questions to the BBC’s Press and Communications team about allegations of Savile’s sexual assaults on under age-girls on BBC premises, the dropped Newsnight investigation, and what role Mark Thompson and Helen Boaden had in the decision.

29 August 2012

James Hardy, ‘Director of Communications for BBC journalism’ replies to the Sunday Times.

(The BBC Website says of his role: ‘Like any major corporation the BBC has to protect and secure its reputation and manage how it is presented in the media’.)

Hardy repeats the BBC position that ‘the angle we were pursuing could not be substantiated’ and that there was no internal pressure to drop the story. He also says that he is alerting the BBC Litigation Department to ‘unsubstantiated allegations’ made against Thompson and Boaden in the Sunday Times email ‘which should not be published’.

3 September 2012

Mark Thompson returns to his office after a holiday in America.

6 September 2012

A letter is sent by solicitors Mills and Reeve to The Sunday Times threatening legal action on behalf of Mark Thompson if they print certain allegations. The letter, which mentions allegations that Savile committed sexual offences on BBC premises, should have been copied to Thompson or at least to his office.

The Sunday Times doesn’t publish anything in that week’s edition or indeed in that month. But on 11 November they reveal the existence of the solicitor’s letter.

7 September 2012

The ITV programme makers at Exposure send an e-mail to BBC Press and Media Relations, attaching a letter to the BBC Director-General. Under Ofcom’s rules a person or company who is the subject of an investigation such as this should be invited to contribute and ‘be told the nature and purpose of the programme, what the programme is about and be given a clear explanation of why they were asked to contribute and when (if known) and where it is likely to be first broadcast’.

They must also ‘be informed about the areas of questioning and, wherever possible, the nature of other likely contributions’.

The ITV letter attached to the e-mail does this. It tells the BBC that the programme will be about the alleged abuse by Savile of girls invited to BBC shows, and that it is scheduled to be transmitted in 26 days time, on 3 October.

It sets out what the programme team has discovered about five different programme strands in which Savile had appeared, and it lists the evidence gathered from those who were allegedly abused.

The letter then raises the issue of the Newsnight investigation, which had been terminated by the editor of the programme. It also tells the BBC that Exposure has interviewed Esther Rantzen who, after seeing the evidence gathered by the programme, has said on camera that she now believes that Savile was a paedophile.

The Exposure team then sets out six questions for the BBC to answer, including:

* What was known at the BBC about what Savile had been up to.

* What their child protection policies had been.

* Why the Newsnight item had been dropped.

It invites the BBC to put forward a representative to answer these questions.

The BBC has since said that its Press and Media Relations team forwarded the email and letter to the BBC legal team, to the BBC Editorial Policy Department and to the Director-General’s office –believed to be a total of 12 people. ITV addressed the letter to George Entwistle believing him to have taken up the role of DG, but in fact Mark Thompson is still in the post, so the BBC Press Office sent a copy to his office.

Freelance reporter Miles Goslett, who first got the BBC to confirm that the email (including attached letter to the DG) from ITV arrived on September 7th, says the BBC also confirmed to him that the documents were forwarded to, amongst others, George Entwistle and Helen Boaden.

On 7 September the significance of this email and letter will surely not have been lost on those who read them at the BBC. Their largest competitor for mass television audiences, ITV, is giving them nearly a month’s notice that it will be transmitting a programme that will be seen by many millions of people, and will be bound to attract much press attention. It will allege that a star who was very much of the BBC’s own making, and had been honoured after his death with tribute programming, was a serial sexual abuser of children on BBC premises. It will inevitably raise questions about the BBC’s own investigation into Savile – especially in the light of the decision to drop Newsnight’s investigation and go ahead with the tribute programming.

8 September 2012

Mark Thompson and Chris Patten meet at a BBC reception at the Royal Albert Hall for the BBC’s guests at the Last Night of the Proms. Although this is the end of a week in which Mark Thompson’s lawyers have threatened to sue the Sunday Times and ITV have given the BBC notice of their forthcoming allegations, according to the two men’s published version of events neither of them will have known at this point that both communications mention assaults by Savile on BBC premises.

16 September 2012

Mark Thompson’s last day as Director-General of the BBC.

17 September 2012

George Entwistle’s first day as Director-General of the BBC.He says he is ‘the right man for the job’ and will put programme makers and ‘outstanding creative originality’ at the heart of the organisation.

18 September 2012

BBC Chief Operating Officer, Caroline Thomson, having failed to get the DG job, announces her departure from the BBC at the end of the month. A BBC statement says ‘The move follows confirmation by the BBC’s new Director-General, George Entwistle, that he is closing the post of Chief Operating Officer as part of the restructure of his senior team’. It later transpires that Caroline Thompson was prepared to stay on longer as part of a transition but was not required.

Entwistle also changes the top management structure replacing a 25 strong Direction Group with a new Management Board of 12. Director of Communications Paul Mylrea no longer has a seat at the top table.

Entwistle makes his first speech to BBC staff as their new DG and says ‘My good fortune is to inherit from Mark Thompson an organisation in robust health’

21 September 2012

The BBC sends a reply to ITV’s letter. It says it will not be putting anybody forward to answer the questions posed by the ITV programme-makers. The BBC explains that it has conducted an extensive search of the files, but no evidence has been found of misconduct by Savile. The statement continues:

‘Whilst the BBC condemns any behaviour of the type alleged in the strongest terms, in the absence of evidence of any kind found at the BBC that corroborates the allegations that have been made it is simply not possible for the corporation to take any action’

Responding to ITV’s question about the Newsnight item the BBC say this was not shown ‘for editorial reasons.’ Their statement also says: ‘Newsnight was pursuing a particular angle relating to the CPS/Police which they were unable to substantiate and which therefore was not broadcast.’

28 September 2012

The London Evening Standard publishes a report about what ITV will transmit the following Wednesday. The headline is ‘Jimmy Savile sexually abused us as girls, 10 women tell TV exposé’. It quotes a ‘source who worked with the investigation team’ as saying that the programme contains ‘shocking material that really lifts the lid on the icon’ and “goes beyond anybody’s comprehension” of what Savile was capable of.’ The Standard recalls that ‘original plans to broadcast the allegations last December were dropped in favour of two shows celebrating Savile’s BBC career’. There is no mention of any BBC response.

(Lord Patten later says that this was the first time that he knew of the allegations)

A similar story, apparently partly based on the Standard story, appears in the Mail Online that evening.

29 September 2012

A number of national newspapers report on the Saturday what the ITV programme will allege on the following Wednesday. The Guardian version includes the paragraph:

‘In a statement issued yesterday, the BBC said it had conducted extensive searches of its files to establish whether there was any record or allegation of misconduct by Savile during his time at the BBC but no such evidence had been found.

It said:  ‘While the BBC condemns any behaviour of the type alleged in the strongest terms, in the absence of evidence of any kind found at the BBC that corroborates the allegations that have been made it is simply not possible for the corporation to take any further action.’

30 September 2012

Most of the national papers preview the ITV allegations. It appears that the newspaper coverage over this weekend is the first time that the BBC Trust had formally heard about the allegations – three weeks to the day after the management was informed by ITV.

Those newspapers that quote the BBC use extracts from their statement released on the Friday. But the Sunday Times article also looks back at the Newsnight investigation, and they have a further quote from a BBC spokesman:

‘As has previously been documented, allegations against Jimmy Savile were investigated by Surrey police and a decision was taken not to pursue them…To allege that we are withholding evidence from the police is also damaging and false.’

The Sunday Telegraph quotes the Newsnight Editor, Peter Rippon, as saying:

‘It is absolutely untrue that the Newsnight investigation was dropped for anything other than editorial reasons.

‘We have been very clear from the start that the piece was not broadcast because the story we were pursuing could not be substantiated.

‘To say otherwise is false and very damaging to the BBC and individuals. The notion that internal pressure was applied appears to be a malicious rumour.’

1 October 2012

A third successive day of coverage across the national and regional press with reports of what ITV will broadcast. The BBC’s position remains, as quoted by The Telegraph, that ‘it was “simply not possible for the corporation to take any further action’.

A BBC statement says:

‘It is absolutely untrue that the Newsnight investigation was dropped for anything other than editorial reasons. We have been very clear from the start that the piece was not broadcast because the story we were pursuing could not be substantiated. To say otherwise is false and very damaging to the BBC and individuals. To allege that we are withholding evidence from the police is also damaging and false. The notion that internal pressure was applied appears to be a malicious rumour.’

2 October 2012

The BBC changes its statement to ITV. The Head of BBC Press and Media Relations, Julian Payne, emails ITV to say the BBC has ‘changed its statement’. Most significantly the ‘not possible to take any further action’ line has gone. Instead, for the first time, the BBC says there is something which it can do. It asks its own Investigations Unit to contact the police. The full public version of the statement reads:

‘A number of serious and disturbing allegations have been made over the past few days about the sexual abuse of teenage girls by Sir Jimmy Savile. Some of these allegations relate to activity on BBC premises in the 1960s and 70s. We are horrified by allegations that anything of this sort could have happened at the BBC – or have been carried out by anyone working for the BBC. They are allegations of a serious criminal nature which the police have the proper powers to investigate. So we have today asked the BBC Investigations Unit to make direct contact with all the police forces in receipt of allegations and offer to help them investigate these matters and provide full support to any lines of inquiry they wish to pursue. The BBC is working closely with the relevant police authorities. They have asked us to make clear that anyone affected by the issues raised in the ITV programme can contact the NSPCC Helpline on 0808 800 5000 or their local police force’.

Source (The BBC says this is the updated version of 4th October)

On the same day Peter Rippon publishes a blog on the BBC’s ‘The Editors site’. He denies that the investigation was dropped ‘for anything other than editorial reasons’. One part of the blog reads:

‘Why did I pursue this story about Jimmy Savile and why did I drop it? I decided we should pursue the story because of the nature of the allegations and because the key witness told us the police had investigated the claims but the case had been dropped on the grounds he was too old’.

He writes: ‘we had not established any institutional failure and I judged it weakened the story from a Newsnight perspective. I took the decision not to publish.’

The blog says three other things which are also to become significant later:

1. ‘We had no evidence that anyone from the Duncroft home could or should have known about the allegations’.

2. ‘We had no evidence against the BBC’.

3. ‘We are confident that all the women we spoke to had contacted the police independently already. We also had no new evidence against any other person that would have helped the police’.

3 October 2012

The producer of the Newsnight investigation, Meirion Jones, and the reporter, Liz McKean, email Peter Rippon and Steve Mitchell (Deputy Director of BBC News) pointing out that the blog is wrong.

On BBC Radio Four’s The Media Show, Steve Hewlett interviews the maker of the ITV documentary, Mark Williams-Thomas, and then turns to David Jordan, Director of BBC Editorial Policy and Standards.

Hewlett: ‘Why did Newsnight drop their story?’

Jordan: ‘I think there’s a slight misconception in something you said earlier Steve, which is what Newsnight’s investigation was actually about … There was an investigation by the Surrey Police in 2007 into the claims by people that they’d been subject to sexual assault by Jimmy Savile, and they looked into that; and we had an allegation made to Newsnight that that investigation hadn’t been conducted properly, and had been dropped for wrong reasons; and the Newsnight investigation was into that investigation, as it were. It was never started out as an investigation into Jimmy Savile himself; it started off as an investigation into whether the Surrey Police had dropped allegations …’

Hewlett: ‘If you had prima facie evidence or serious allegations that this is what Jimmy Savile was up to, irrespective of what the Crown Prosecution Service decided to do, and given what we now know Newsnight might have found out if they had carried on, it should have been pursued shouldn’t it?

Jordan: ‘That all depends. That’s an editorial decision for the Editor of Newsnight or any Editor to make: what sort of story do they want to pursue? In this instance they wanted to pursue a story about how the allegations of assault had actually been handled by the Surrey Police.’

Hewlett also suggests to Jordan that the Newsnight team has more evidence than the Surrey police and asks if this evidence was passed to the police.

Jordan: ‘I’m not sure that Newsnight believed it had any more evidence than the Surrey Police actually had … because they were specifically focused – you might say wrongly. Had you been Editor you might have taken a different decision, but they were so clearly focused on the Surrey Police investigation that they didn’t follow up in more general terms and do what Mark has done, which is laudable, and find a lot of other people subjected to the same abuse.

ITV transmits Exposure –the other side of Jimmy Savile.

4 October 2012

Mark Williams -Thomas, former policeman who specialises in child abuse, puts Karin Ward in touch with Surrey police.

BBC Radio Four’s ‘Today’ Programme interviews David Jordan. He says it is ‘in the public interest’ for the allegations to have been transmitted by ITV. He is then asked by James Naughtie; ‘Well if it is true that it is in the public interest, surely it was in the public interest that Newsnight, which had much of the same evidence, should have broadcast it when it chose not to?’

David Jordan replies: ‘Well Newsnight looked at a particular aspect, they investigated a particular aspect of what was going on with Jimmy Savile, as indeed we now discover various other people had investigations into Jimmy Savile at various times. What they were looking at specifically was allegations that had been made to the Surrey Police in 2007, and they had themselves received an allegation that the investigation conducted by the Surrey Police in some way hadn’t been done properly. They looked into that allegation. Actually it turned out not to be true. It turned out that the Surrey police had done a professional job that you would expect of them, had delivered evidence to the Crown Prosecution Service and the Crown Prosecution Service had decided on the evidence that they had that they wouldn’t proceed with prosecutions.

Naughtie then puts it to him: ‘what you are saying, as far as I understand it from that is this, that Newsnight did not have access to accounts of alleged abuse which matched the severity of things that were said in the ITV documentary, it didn’t reach that pitch the Newsnight stuff, is that correct?’

Jordan: ‘I’m not sure it didn’t reach the pitch in some instances’

Naughtie: ‘Well surely it would have been right to broadcast it then?’

Jordan: ‘The thing is, what they decided to do – and this is a matter of judgement for the editor of Newsnight at the time – what they decided was that they hadn’t been able to bring their own investigation into what they had been interested in investigating … that they hadn’t been able to conclude that in the way that they thought they might do, they therefore dropped that investigation. Now he, the editor, decided that he didn’t want to pursue the general rumours and allegations about Jimmy Savile’s sexual conduct in the 60s and 70s for a variety of reasons which he spelled out on the blog that he has written, one of which was these things happened a long time ago, and that another one of which was that Sir Jimmy Savile was by that time dead so he thought the level of public interest in the sense that you describe it in pursuing it was less than you might have thought’.

Later that day David Jordan has a meeting with Meirion Jones .This meeting remains confidential until 24 October.

5 October 2012

BBC Director General George Entwistle sends an email to all staff ‘A message from George’. He says he is appalled by the things he saw in the ITV documentary and that the corporation will do absolutely everything it can to help find out what has happened. But he makes no mention of setting up any BBC inquiries, saying that ‘The police are the only people with the proper powers to assess criminal allegations, and they have made it clear to me that any BBC internal enquiry in parallel would run the risk of damaging or impeding their work.’

Of the Newsnight investigation he writes: ‘As is now well known, The BBC Newsnight programme investigated Surrey police’s enquiry into Jimmy Savile towards the end of 2011’

The Newsnight producer responsible for the Savile story, Meirion Jones, immediately sends an email to Entwistle:

‘George – one note – the investigation was into whether Jimmy Savile was a paedophile – I know because it was my investigation. We didn’t know that Surrey police had investigated Jimmy Savile – no one did – that was what we found when we investigated and interviewed his victims.’

The reporter Liz MacKean also sends an e-mail. Jones and MacKean are then asked by George Entwistle to meet Ken MacQuarrie, Director of BBC Scotland to discuss their concerns.This meeting happens on 9th October

David Jordan is interviewed by Samira Ahmed on the BBC News Channel programme ‘Newswatch’, repeated the next day on BBC1. He says again: ‘They [Newsnight] were investigating the Surrey Police investigation into Jimmy Savile and they discovered that Surrey Police had done a perfectly decent investigation into Jimmy Savile, had made recommendations to the CPS and then subsequently it had been dropped because of lack of evidence.

7 October 2012

The Prime Minister, David Cameron, tells Andrew Marr on BBC One:

‘I think it is pretty shocking, the allegations that we are reading. They need to be properly looked at, properly investigated.

‘It seems to me it is very important that the organisation, the BBC, does that itself.

‘But also, if there are questions that should be pursued by the police and other organisations, everyone has to ask themselves the question ‘Is there new evidence that needs to be looked at? Are there new things as an organisation we should look at and examine?’

8 October 2012

George Entwistle gives his first – and only – full interview on the Savile saga, to the BBC Today Programme in which he ‘deeply regrets’ the experiences of the abused women and to the Prime Minister’s point that the BBC should have its own inquiry alongside any police investigation. Entwistle replies that the police are the ‘only properly constituted authority for dealing with criminal investigations’. He says: ‘the BBC does not have the capacity to compel people who no longer work for it to give interviews. It does not have the capacity to secure evidence forensically’.

9 October 2012

At George Entwistle’s request Meirion Jones and Liz MacKean hold separate meetings with Ken MacQuarrie,Director of BBC Scotland who has been asked by Entwistle to find out from Jones and McKean what really happened.Liz MacKean has since said that at the end of her meeting with MacQuarrie he said he would be reporting back to Entwistle. Presumably MacQuarrie he did.

The police say they are now 120 separate lines of inquiry with 20-25 possible victims of Savile.

10 October 2012

The Chairman of the BBC Trust, Lord Patten, gives an interview about the Savile allegations to Steve Hewlett on Radio Four’s Media Show. He defends the BBC management on all counts. When asked if the BBC has been ‘flat-footed’ in its handling of the crisis he says that when he first took the job he was advised by some of his predecessors that one thing you shouldn’t do as Chairman is always act too hastily, ‘you shouldn’t always respond to the 87 questions you get asked at 9.30 in the evening with demands for answers by the end of the next 15 minutes’. He also says ‘the way we have acted since then has been entirely in line with the police advice’.

Of the BBC inquiry that will follow once there is ‘the green light from the police’, Lord Patten says the Director-General intends to set up an independent inquiry with terms of reference agreed by the Trust. When asked if those terms of reference will include the decisions over the Newsnight programme, he says ‘My own view is that I am very reluctant to question the journalistic integrity of the people involved in those decisions’.

As to what the Newsnight investigation was actually about, he says ‘the programme which Newsnight was pursuing was, as you know because Peter Rippon has made this clear in his blog, it was largely directed at the behaviour of the police and whether the police had dropped allegations unfairly, and I think I am right in saying that they originally thought that the story was the dropping of the police investigation because of the identity of the person who was being identified’. Presumably Meirion Jones’s e-mail to George Entwistle has not been passed on to the BBC Trust.

As to when he became aware of the allegations about Savile, Lord Patten says ‘to be frank, I became aware of the whole story when it broke recently in the newspapers’, thus confirming that nobody in the BBC management told the Trust about the ITV email on 7 September until the ITV allegations became public twenty-one days later. Asked if he should have been told earlier that Newsnight had received allegations of sexual abuse on BBC premises, he says ‘no’. Did he think he should have been? ‘No’.

On his way into Broadcasting House to record The Media Show interview Lord Patten is door-stepped by Lucy Manning of ITV News:

Manning: ‘Looks now as if there is going to be an independent inquiry from the BBC: is that what you want to see now?’

Patten: ‘Absolutely, and I think its been clear for some time that that would happen.’

Later in the doorstep interview there is this exchange:

Manning: ‘Do you think the BBC has handled this correctly, all the way?’

Patten: ‘I think they have handled it in exactly the way they should have done, bringing in the police at the outset.’

Manning: ‘But they didn’t bring in the police at the outset: Newsnight had the allegations …’

Patten: ‘They did bring in the police at the outset – as soon as the story became public last week …’

Manning: ‘When ITV made the story public then they brought in the police, but Newsnight had those allegations from those women and nobody brought the police in then.’

11 October 2012

Lucy Manning doorsteps George Entwistle on his way to work and asks him about the BBC’s handling of the allegations. He too replies:

‘We went straight to the police with it as soon as we had a sense of the scale of what was going on’.

12 October 2012

George Entwistle announces what he calls ‘two pieces of work; both to be led by independent figures’. The names will be announced as soon as possible. One is ‘an immediate independent inquiry led by an external expert into whether there were any failings in the BBC management of the Newsnight investigation’. The other is ‘an inquiry – once the police have indicated they are happy for it to proceed – into the culture and practices of the BBC during the years that Jimmy Savile worked here, and afterwards’.

In reply to questions at a news conference he makes it clear that Peter Rippon will remain as Editor of Newsnight.

Meirion Jones sends the draft script of the abandoned Newsnight item to George Entwistle.

13 October 2012

There is new information -nearly a year later-on the suggestion that one of the women who spoke to the Newsnight investigation believed there was a letter from the Surrey police saying they did not prosecute Savile because he was too old. The Daily Mail talks to a woman known only as ‘Fiona’ and she shows them a letter.

The Mail reports: ‘For her part, Fiona denies forging the letter. Although she initially insisted that it was genuine, last night she conceded that she may have been the victim of a hoax’.

The Mail also reports ‘Corporation sources indicated that their dealings with Fiona – who they said ‘appeared to be playing games with us’ – was a contributory factor’ in the decision to drop the story’.

16 October 2012

The BBC announces that former Court of Appeal judge Dame Janet Smith will lead the independent review into Jimmy Savile and the former Head of Sky News Nick Pollard will lead the review into Newsnight.

Nick Pollard’s terms of reference include ‘whether any inappropriate managerial pressure or consideration may have influenced the decision of the Editor of Newsnight’.

In a ‘Note to Editors’ toward the end of the statement the BBC puts on record that although the Director-General, George Entwistle, normally chairs the Executive Board, on this occasion he ‘absented himself from the Executive Board for the appointment of the two chairs and the agreement of the terms of reference of the reviews. He took no part in discussions around these decisions. The independent reviews will report to the BBC Executive Board, chaired for purposes connected to these reviews by Non-executive Director Dame Fiona Reynolds, the Senior Independent Director Designate’.

20 October 2012

The Daily Mail headlines a story: ‘Newsnight journalist accused of covering up sexual abuse by Savile at the school where his aunt was headmistress ‘. The Mail doesn’t say who made the accusations –which Jones strongly denies-but people draw their own conclusions and talk of ‘civil war’ at the BBC.

21 October 2012

Commentary: This now appears to be a very significant day in the timeline but surprisingly little has been written about it. I first got interested in Sunday 21st when I thought I heard Lord Patten tell the BBC World at One that it was then that he had ‘insisted’ that the mistakes in the blog were corrected. According to The Times account of the interview: ‘Lord Patten said: “I knew last Sunday and I insisted that we should put the blog right as soon as possible.”

I wondered why the Chairman of the BBC Trust would have to ‘insist’ on that point . As far as I now understand it, this is what happened: the programme-makers at BBC Panorama are bound by the same Ofcom rules about fairness as their counterparts over at ITV Exposure. If they are going to make allegations against people or companies they must give fair notice in order to invite responses before the programme is transmitted.

Earlier in the week Panorama had been emailing the BBC corporately and key executives individually giving them notice of what would be said about them and offering them the chance to reply. By the Saturday they had received no replies. So on the Sunday morning, Peter Horrocks, normally Head of BBC Global News but in these unusual circumstances the BBC executive overseeing the production of the Panorama programme (because he hadn’t been previously involved in the saga), emails two executives of the BBC Trust asking their help in bringing this lack of response to the attention of the Chairman, Lord Patten.

Separately Peter Rippon emailed the BBC with a list of corrections to his blog plus, importantly, clarification from him for the first time that the Newsnight investigation had not started as an investigation into the Surrey police’s handling of the allegations against Savile.

I understand that later that morning George Entwistle calls Lord Patten. It can’t have been an easy conversation. The BBC is going to have to make a big change of direction.

22 October 2012

On the day on which BBC1 is to transmit Panorama’s investigation into Savile and Newsnight –‘Jimmy Savile, What the BBC Knew’, and the day before George Entwistle appears before the Culture, Media and Sport Committee at the House of Commons, the BBC senior management have before them the questions from Panorama, presumably their draft answers and the email from Peter Rippon correcting his blog. They will know of the Chairman’s insistence that they correct previous mistakes. One option would have been to put out a comprehensive statement of corrections and clarifications. Instead they decide to issue two different corporate statements at different times. One is to be called ‘Statement regarding Newsnight and Jimmy Savile’ and the other is to be called ‘BBC statement to Panorama’.

A difference in content is that  ‘Statement regarding Newsnight and Jimmy Savile’ lists the mistakes in Rippon’s blog based on his email to the management’ but it doesn’t include Rippon’s further point about the origins of the investigation. That is to be included only as a final paragraph in ‘BBC statement to Panorama’:

‘We should also make it clear we now accept that the Newsnight investigation did not start out as an investigation into the Surrey police’s handling of the case against Mr Savile’.

This paragraph is to be the first time that the BBC management effectively admits that it has been misleading people into believing that the investigation started as one into the Surrey Police’s handling of the allegations.

Rippon is, rightly it seems, to be blamed for the blog mistakes but it appears that nobody is to be held responsible for the misleading corporate statements nor is any explanation offered as to how they happened.

The difference in timing is that the first statement is to be issued on the morning of this day, Monday 22 October. The second statement will be given to Panorama in time for use in their programme at 10.30pm that evening and then issued as a public statement the following day.

The effect, intended or otherwise, of this strategy is that for most of the Monday the main story in the media is the first statement about the mistakes Rippon which made in his blog. There will be no announcement about the mistake which the management made until Panorama goes on the air late in the evening.

Whatever the tactics behind all this there’s no hiding from the BBC Trust that the BBC management had been misleading people and that the Trust-by repeating the management line – had been doing so too.

The BBC Trust has confirmed to Steve Hewlett that on ‘Monday morning (22 October) the Executive provided the full text of the updates to the blog, and the Executive’s proposed corporate statement to Panorama, which contained the information that the Executive now accepted that the Newsnight investigation did not start out as an investigation into the Surrey police’s handling of the case against Mr Savile. As far as the Trust is aware, this was the first time that we had been informed of the Executive’s conclusions on the origin of the Newsnight investigation.’

It is worth recording some of the detail of ‘Statement regarding Newsnight and Jimmy Savile’:

‘The BBC has today issued a correction to the blog by the editor of Newsnight, Peter Rippon. On the basis of material now available, it is apparent from information supplied by the Newsnight editor and programme team, that the explanation by the editor in his blog of his decision to drop the programme’s investigation is inaccurate or incomplete in some respects. The BBC regrets these errors and will work with the Pollard Review to assemble all relevant evidence to enable the review to determine the full facts’.

The most significant of the blog corrections concerns the BBC and the police:

‘The blog says that all the women spoken to by the programme had contacted the police independently already and that Newsnight had no new evidence against any other person that would have helped the police. It appears that in some cases women had not spoken to the police and that the police were not aware of all the allegations’.

This is a major change of position and is very different from the assurances given by George Entwistle and Lord Patten about the speed with which the police had been contacted.

The other two changes ‘by way of correction and clarification’ are:

‘1.The blog says that Newsnight had no evidence that anyone from the Duncroft home could or should have known about the allegations. In fact some allegations were made (mostly in general terms) that some of the Duncroft staff knew or may have known about the abuse.

‘2. The blog says that Newsnight had no evidence against the BBC. No allegation was made to the programme that BBC staff were aware of Mr Savile’s alleged activities, but there were some allegations of abusive conduct on BBC premises’.

Commentary: These changes do not address what appears to me to be the most important mistake in the blog which remains uncorrected on the blog to this day.

In the 2 October blog Rippon wrote:

‘Why did I pursue this story about Jimmy Savile and why did I drop it? I decided we should pursue the story because of the nature of the allegations and because the key witness told us the police had investigated the claims but the case had been dropped on the grounds he was too old. This made the public interest case from a Newsnight point of view potentially strong. If we could establish some sort of institutional failure we would have a much stronger story’.

Rippon never named ‘the key witness’ who ‘told us the police had investigated the claims but the case had been dropped on the grounds he was too old’. But there is little doubt in my mind who the key witness in the Newsnight investigation was. It was Karin Ward who was the only victim who had agreed to go on camera and the only one who had agreed to be named. She was one of the two starting points for the whole investigation because her written account of what a ‘J.S’ did at the BBC was shown to Rippon to help demonstrate why Newsnight should investigate Savile further.

Newsnight producer Meirion Jones said during Panorama: ‘The key witness, Karin Ward, categorically told us she had not gone to the police – and Peter [Rippon] was reminded many times that this was the case, both verbally and in writing.’

I have confirmed that Karin Ward had no contact with the police about Savile until she went to them following her appearance on the ITV programme ‘Exposure’ which was broadcast in October 2012, nearly a year after the Newsnight investigation. So it is not possible that she passed on to Newsnight during their investigation into Savile any information she received from the police because at that time she hadn’t even met the police. It is possible that from her contact with other former colleagues at the Duncroft Approved School she heard reports of a police investigation but I can find no evidence that she ever told Newsnight about them.

The only explanation I can offer for Rippon’s claim is that Newsnight had talked to one other woman, known as ‘Fiona’, who was not interviewed on camera, who told them at one point that she knew of a letter from the Surrey police citing Savile’s age. The Newsnight team were never convinced the letter existed. A year later when The Mail spoke to her, she showed them a letter and they concluded that it was a fake or a hoax on ‘Fiona’.

It is surprising that this mistake has remained uncorrected by Rippon and by the BBC because there is a clue in one of the corrections that were made on October 22 that there is a further mistake.

Correction number 3 recalled that the original blog ‘says that all the women spoken to by the programme had contacted the police independently already and that Newsnight had no new evidence against any other person that would have helped the police. It appears that in some cases women had not spoken to the police and that the police were not aware of all the allegations’.

This is a reference to Karin Ward who BBC executives had realised by then had not spoken to the police. But they don’t seem to have done a read across to the implications on the separate reference to the ‘key witness’ and her contact or otherwise, with the police.

Returning to the events of 22 October, following the BBC statement about the mistakes in Rippon’s blog the Prime Minister says ‘the BBC has effectively changed its story’ and ‘there are serious questions, they need to be answered.’

The BBC Trust says it is ‘deeply concerning that there have been inaccuracies in the BBC’s own description of what happened in relation to the Newsnight investigation.’

Interviewed on that evening’s Newsnight (rather bizarrely Newsnight, on BBC2, was on the air at the same time as Panorama, on BBC One), I say ‘When you have a corporate statement that’s been up there for at least a couple of weeks and then suddenly you pull it and say, actually that wasn’t right. It’s a statement that was initiated by the editor of Newsnight, was supported by the head of editorial policy, and supported by the director general and supported by the chairman of the BBC trust, it’s an embarrassing thing.’

Commentary: How did it come about The BBC corporately had to admit its own mistake to its leading current affairs programme. The answer is they didn’t have any option. The Panorama programme-makers had interviewed the Newsnight reporter, Liz MacKean, and she said: ‘Ever since the decision was taken to shelve our story I’ve not been happy with public statements made by the BBC. I think they’re very misleading about the nature of the investigation we were doing. The story we were investigating was very clear cut. It was about Jimmy Savile being a paedophile and using his status as a charity fundraiser and television presenter to get access to places where there were vulnerable teenage girls he could abuse.’

Panorama issue a statement about their programme:

‘Peter Rippon has always maintained the story was pulled for ‘editorial reasons’ and not because of a potentially embarrassing clash with planned BBC tributes to Savile over Christmas. Panorama has found no evidence to contradict that view.’

The Panorama programme itself gives a clear and incisive analysis of events.

Amidst all this also comes the news that ‘Peter Rippon is stepping aside with immediate effect from his post while the review by Nick Pollard, the former head of Sky News, into the management of Newsnight’s investigation, is carried out.’ This is a change from the Director-General’s position at his press conference ten days earlier.

23 October 2012

George Entwistle appears before the Commons Culture Committee with David Jordan. Previously he had refused to use hindsight editorial judgement to say that Rippon had made a mistake, but now he says ‘I came away from Panorama firmly of the view that the investigation, even if, in the judgment of the editor, it wasn’t ready for transmission at the point he was looking at it, should have been allowed to continue.’

Asked if he was angry about the mistakes in Rippon’s blog he says he was ‘very disappointed’. He talks of a ‘breakdown of communication’ between Newsnight reporters and the editor. ‘Although I would normally absolutely expect to be able to get from the editor of a programme a complete and full picture of what had been going on in that programme, I thought I needed to get to the bottom of why there seemed to be a difference of opinion and there definitely seems to me to have been a difference of opinion’.

Entwistle doesn’t accept that the BBC hasn’t handled the situation well.

Mark Thompson writes to Rob Wilson MP who has been raising questions about the Savile affair.

Part of his letter says:

‘It is worth noting, however, that I did not know at the time or for the remainder of my period in office whether the Newsnight Savile investigation included allegations related to the BBC and whether it therefore fell into this category, or not’.

The letter also says:

‘You quote me as saying: “During my time as director general of the BBC, I never heard any allegations or received any complaints about Jimmy Savile.” Both of these statements are true to the very best of my knowledge.’

24 October 2012

During Prime Minister’s Questions, Tom Watson MP claims to have ‘clear intelligence suggesting a powerful paedophile network linked to Parliament and No 10.’

David Jordan returns to the Radio Four Media Show three weeks after his previous appearance. Steve Hewlett reads out a list of previous statements by BBC executives, including Jordan, which, Hewlett says, ‘were wrong’.

Jordan says ‘I asked to come back on the programme because your listeners might have been a little misled when I appeared. So I said it started out as an investigation into the Surrey Police and that’s most definitely not the case. It started out, as we now know, into Jimmy Savile and his abuse over many years and it became in the eyes of the Editor, at any rate, a look at the Surrey Police investigation but of course it would always have had to deal with the allegations of abuse as the starting point.

‘The reason why that was the initial view that was taken was because that seemed to be the view that was coming from the Editor who after all is the person who is in charge of the investigation’.

Jordan goes on to explain how ‘listeners might have been a little misled’ by what he has previously said.

‘Well we had the blog written by the Editor, Peter Rippon and our responses we based on that and other information we had at the time. So I’m sorry that I slightly misled your listeners at the time, I didn’t repeat anywhere else that it started out as an investigation into the police as it certainly didn’t’.

Commentary: I have two observations on these comments by David Jordan. Firstly, Peter Rippon never said in his blog that the investigation started as an investigation in to the Surrey Police, so David Jordan can only have based that on ‘other information we had at the time’. Secondly, he is correct in saying that he never repeated that ‘the investigation started into the Surrey Police’.

But he told Today that what Newsnight ‘were looking at specifically was allegations that had been made to the Surrey police’, he told Newswatch that ‘they were investigating the Surrey Police investigation into Jimmy Savile’, George Entwistle told BBC staff ‘Newsnight programme investigated Surrey police’s enquiry into Jimmy Savile’ and Lord Patten told the Media Show ‘I think I am right in saying that they originally thought that the story was the dropping of the police investigation’.

Hewlett goes on to ask when Jordan first had reason to believe that the Rippon blog might be wrong.

Jordan pauses then replies: ‘Well over the course of the next week it gradually became clear that there was an alternative view as it were as to what the Newsnight investigation was about, it became clear from representations from the reporter and the producer principally to the Director-General which the Director-General then had then had looked at.’

Hewlett: ‘Is it true that you met the producer or the producers or people from there as it were the morning after our interview after your appearance on the Today Programme and that at that meeting they told you that it was wrong?’

Jordan: ‘No, I didn’t meet any ‘theys’ after my interview with you, no’

Hewlett: ‘You didn’t meet them the day after?’

Jordan: ‘I didn’t meet any ‘theys’ after the day I met you. I didn’t meet any days. I had a meeting with the producer of the programme.’

Hewlett: ‘Theys’?’

Jordan : ‘… which was a confidential meeting which I am not at liberty to disclose here.‘To me the word confidential when it is applied to a meeting in the particular position that I am in is a confidential meeting.’

Hewlett: ‘I understand, I’m sorry if I have breached any confidences.’

Jordan: ‘Well it’s clear somebody else has.’

Jordan goes on to say that he has urged the producer that if he had any problems with what is being said to get in touch with the Director-General and to get in touch with his line management and tell them that what they were saying was wrong.

Hewlett: ‘Which he did …’

Jordan: ‘Which he did, but not until the Friday following.’

Hewlett: ‘It took an awful long time didn’t it to get this corrected, almost two whole weeks?’

Jordan: ‘Yes it did take a long time and the reason for that is very simple: there were two contradictory accounts of what was going on in Newsnight and those contradictory accounts had to be reconciled, and unfortunately sometimes it takes a while to reconcile the two contradictory accounts, and in this case it took quite a while to reconcile the two contradictory accounts’

This exchange, which leads to a debate between David Jordan and Meirion Jones in the Panorama office, is particularly significant because it goes to the heart of whether the BBC continued to mislead after it realized there may be mistakes in the Rippon blog. David Jordan says that he ‘urged the producer if he had any problems with what was being said to get in touch with the Director-General and to get in touch with his line management and tell them that what they were saying was wrong’.

But at the time of this meeting the only BBC person who had said publicly that the investigation had ‘started as an investigation into the Surrey Police’s investigation’ was not the Director-General or the producer’s line manager or even his own Editor, Peter Rippon, but David Jordan himself.

This also raises the question of if and when Lord Patten was told by the management that the BBC’s public position which he was promoting publicly may be wrong, and when he was told that it definitely was wrong.

25 October 2012

Scotland Yard says there are 300 plus potential victims of whom 130 have been interviewed so far.

28 October 2012

Gary Glitter arrested as part of the investigation into Savile. He denies the charges. Subsequently, Freddie Starr also denies charges.

1 November 2012

Lord Patten is interviewed by Lucy Manning of ITV News. Manning: ‘This has been a disaster for the BBC hasn’t it?’

Patten: ‘Yes. But above all it has been a disaster for all those women who’ve been abused over the years and we’ve got two huge priorities now. One is to discharge our obligations to them: not only abused, but feeling that they were marooned with nobody believing their stories until recently; and secondly we’ve got to start rebuilding the reputation of the BBC. The BBC has been the most trusted news gathering organization in the country for years and one of the ways we can rebuild that trust is telling the truth about ourselves even when the truth is awful.’

Patten also admits that he and BBC management executives had given misleading statements. When asked if he expects any resignations among the BBC management he says he would not be surprised if there were resignations.

2 November 2012

Iain Overton, editor of the Bureau of Investigative Journalism whose colleague Angus Stickler is the reporter on a Newsnight item to be shown that night says in a tweet (which has subsequently been retweeted 1574 times): ‘If all goes well we’ve got a Newsnight out tonight about a very senior political figure who is a paedophile.’

On the internet, speculation begins about who that ‘very senior political figure’ might be. The name most tweeted is ‘McAlpine’.

At 11.48 am Newsnight’s  former political editor Michael Crick, who now works for Channel Four News, has had reports that Newsnight’s story will be about Lord McAlpine and tweets:

‘@iainoverton @guidofawkes Leaving it a bit late aren’t you? Subject of your story told me 30 mins ago you’d not yet put story to him.’

At 1.06 pm Michael Crick tweets to his 44, 727 followers:

‘“Senior political figure” due to be accused tonight by BBC of being paedophile denies allegations + tells me he’ll issue libel writ agst BBC.’ [sic]

At 2.08 pm Michael Crick tweets:

‘The senior political figure due to be accused paedophile activity by BBC tonight tells me that he still hasn’t heard from them for response’.

At 7pm on Channel Four News Michael Crick (MC) is interviewed by presenter  Krishnan Guru-Murthy (KGM):

KGM: A victim of abuse in the Welsh Care Homes Scandal claims he was sexually assaulted by a former senior political figure.  It is the Jimmy Savile scandal that has unlocked allegations that have been shut away and forgotten for decades.  But tonight the accused man has spoken to our political correspondent Michael Crick, who joins me now.  What’s the allegation?

MC:  Well, you’ll remember from the 1990s, that the Welsh Care Homes Scandal was huge – I mean, probably the biggest sexual child abuse scandal this country’s ever seen, involving nearly 40 children’s homes and 100s of victims.  Now, a former victim who lived at Bryn Estin, the children’s home at the centre of this scandal, near Wrexham, has said that he was raped by a former senior Conservative official from the Thatcher era.  And we’ve spoken to him again today, and he doesn’t  - he said that first of all 13 years ago – and we spoke to him again today, and he doesn’t retract that story.  Now I understand that this official, former official, was named in evidence to the Waterhouse Tribunal that looked into this whole affair, took three years at the end of the 1990s, but the name was never published in the final report simply because perpetrators’ names weren’t published unless they’d actually been convicted.  Now I’ve spoken today twice to the former official.  He vehemently denies the allegations; says they’re rubbish; says he’s never been interested in young boys, or old boys for that matter; he’s not a paedophile, never been involved in paedophile activity; and that if he is named he says he will sue.

KGM:  Well, you’ve explained why this name has never been heard before.  Allegations have been circling now for days.

MC:  They have.  I mean, allegations have actually been circling for decades, but particularly in the light of the Savile affair, in the last few days there have been a lot of allegations flying about, about senior political figures.  We saw Tom Watson in the House of Commons last week claim that there might be a paedophile ring that was linked to a senior figure in Downing Street from 20 years ago.  And indeed at the weekend the former Welsh Office Minister, Rod Richards, a Conservative, claimed that Peter Morrison, who was an aide to Margaret Thatcher, her private parliamentary secretary, at the end of her leadership, in 1990 – Mr Richards said that he was also amongst those accused of sexual abuse in evidence to the Waterhouse Tribunal, but of course we can name him because he died some years ago.”

At 10.30pm, Newsnight airs an interview with Steve Messham, 49, who claims to have been repeatedly abused by a ‘senior Conservative official from the Thatcher era’ in the late 1970s in North Wales.The ‘official’ is not named.

5 November 2012

Prime Minister David Cameron orders an inquiry into the North Wales child abuse claims and how they were handled in the 1970s and 1980s.

6 November 2012

A new police inquiry is announced by Home Secretary Theresa May. Led by the head of the National Crime Agency, it will look into the allegations of child abuse in the North Wales care homes.

Mrs Justice Julia Macur begins investigation into the terms of the Waterhouse abuse inquiry.

Michael Crick tweets:

‘Before any MP names him in Commons, I am more + more sceptical whether “senior Conservative official from Thatcher era” is guilty as alleged’

8 November 2012

Prime Minister appears on ITV’s This Morning and is shown a list of names- found on Twitter- by Philip Schofield. David Cameron speaks of his fears of a ‘witch-hunt’ against gay members of parliament.

9 November 2012

The Guardian prints a front-page article naming Lord McAlpine as the person referred to in the Newsnight report- but insists that he is a victim of mistaken identity by Steve Messham.

The story is discussed on a BBC management morning conference call but George Entwistle does not hear it because he is preparing to speak to a conference in London of Public Broadcasters International. He makes a speech saying: ‘I should be the first to admit that we haven’t got everything right since this crisis started.’

Lord McAlpine issues a statement denying the allegations, claiming they are ‘wholly false and seriously defamatory.’ He indicates that he will sue the BBC for libel, and that his lawyers will look into Tweets and other internet activity that implicated him.

Steve Messham publicly apologises to Lord McAlpine and accepts that he made a ‘genuine error.’ He claims that Police had shown him a picture of his abuser in the early 1990s and told him it was Lord McAlpine.But he has now be shown a picture of the real Lord McAlpine and realises he was not the abuser.

Newsnight begins with the headline ‘A new crisis for Newsnight’

10 November 2012

BBC issues an apology for broadcasting the Newsnight report and announces that the programme’s investigations will be suspended.

George Entwistle is interviewed by John Humphries on the Today programme.

He reveals that despite all the pre-transmission speculation about the Newsnight report on North Wales care home abuse, he didn’t know about it until after it had gone out.

He also didn’t know about The Guardian front page story claiming there had been a case of mistaken identity until Messham himself confirmed it at about 6pm saying he had now been shown a photograph of Lord McAlpine and realised this wasn’t his abuser..

Jeremy Paxman issues a statement:

‘George Entwistle’s departure is a great shame. He has been brought low by cowards and incompetents. The real problem here is the BBC’s decision, in the wake of the Hutton Inquiry, to play safe by appointing biddable people.

‘They then compounded the problem by enforcing a series of cuts on programme budgets, while bloating the management. That is how you arrive at the current mess on Newsnight. I very much doubt the problem is unique to that programme.

‘I had hoped that George might stay to sort this out.It is a great pity that a talented man has been sacrificed. While time-servers prosper.I shall not be issuing any further statements or doing any interviews.’

The BBC Trustees talk on the phone about the situation in general and Entwistle’s performance on Today in particular.

George Entwistle sends Lord Patten a letter of resignation as DG.

Lord Patten telephones his deputy Diana Coyle deliberate over George Entwistle’s letter of resignation. Coyle signs off Entwistle’s £450, 000 with Strictly Come Dancing on her television in the background, according to a BBC spokesperson.

At 9.00pm George Entwistle and Lord Patten walk out of the front door of New Broadcasting House and make statements.

George Entwistle resignation statement:

‘In the light of the fact that the Director-General is also the Editor-in-Chief and ultimately responsible for all content; and in the light of the unacceptable journalistic standards of the Newsnight film broadcast on Friday 2 November, I have decided that the honourable thing to do is to step down from the post of director-general.

‘When appointed to the role, with 23 years’ experience as a producer and leader at the BBC, I was confident the trustees had chosen the best candidate for the post, and the right person to tackle the challenges and opportunities ahead. However, the wholly exceptional events of the past few weeks have led me to conclude that the BBC should appoint a new leader.

‘To have been the Director-General of the BBC even for a short period, and in the most challenging of circumstances, has been a great honour.

‘While there is understandable public concern over a number of issues well covered in the media – which I’m confident will be addressed by the review process – we must not lose sight of the fact that the BBC is full of people of the greatest talent and the highest integrity. That’s what will continue to make it the finest broadcaster in the world.’

Lord Patten statement:

‘This is undoubtedly one of the saddest evenings of my public life. George Entwistle has worked for the BBC for 23 years. He exemplifies the finest values of public service broadcasting.

‘At the heart of the BBC is its role as a trusted global news organisation and as the editor in chief of that news organisation, George has very honourably offered us his resignation because of the unacceptable mistakes, the unacceptable shoddy journalism that has caused so much controversy.’

11 November 2012

BBC Trust chairman Lord Patten says a ‘thorough, radical, structural overhaul’ of the BBC is needed after Entwistle’s resignation. He reveals that a new director general will be decided within a matter of weeks.

Scotland director Ken MacQuarrie is commissioned to make a report of what happened in the latest Newsnight investigation.

12 November 2012:

David Dimbleby is interviewed on Today. He says  “I can’t understand why the director general of the BBC resigned.The BBC has a crisis of management of its own making… Lord Patten should have a good close look at how the BBC is run’

BBC Director of News Helen Boaden and her deputy Stephen Mitchell ‘step aside’ from their roles. They await the result of the Pollard Inquiry.

Acting Director General Tim Davie claims this shows BBC is ‘getting a grip’ on the organisation.

Tim Davie appears on Sky News but the interview ends messily

BBC Scotland director Ken MacQuarrie describes an ‘ambiguity around who was taking the ultimate editorial responsibility for the report.’

Summary of findings of the MacQuarrie report

Iain Overton resigns as editor of the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.

13 November 2012

BBC begins disciplinary measures against employees involved in the decision to air the Newsnight report featuring Steve Messham’s allegations.

15 November 2012

ITV issues a statement about Philip Schofield:

‘Last Thursday we began an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the mistake on that day’s This Morning programme, for which both Phillip Schofield and ITV apologised.

‘This investigation has now concluded and the appropriate disciplinary action has been taken. We sincerely apologise because the way in which the issue was raised was clearly wrong and should have been handled differently. We have taken steps to make sure our editorial processes are always properly followed, which was not the case in this instance, and to ensure such an error will not be made again.’

Lucy Manning  interviews  Peter Fincham, who says that the way This Morning interviewed David Cameron was ‘very misguided’ but Schofield will continue to present the programme.

Ofcom announces two investigations of possible breaches of the Broadcasting Code.

‘The first (investigation) relates to a Newsnight report broadcast on 2 November into child sex abuse allegations. The second relates to the disclosure of a list of individuals alleged to be linked to child sex abuse on ITV’s This Morning, broadcast on 8 November.’

The BBC and Lord McAlpine reach a settlement in which he will be paid £185,000.

22nd November 2012

ITV agrees to pay Lord McAlpine £125,000 in damages.

11.55 BBC Business Editor Robert Peston tweets:

‘Am hearing that Tony Hall, chief exec Royal Opera House, has been appointed as new DG of BBC. Announcement soon’

Shortly afterwards a press release from the BBC Trust says: The BBC Trust has today appointed Tony Hall – Lord Hall of Birkenhead – as the Director-General of the BBC, following the departure of George Entwistle.

Commentary: Looking back over the timeline there seem to me to have been at least ten occasions when Mark Thomson’s office received or should have received information about Savile’s alleged sexual assaults on BBC premises.The ten occasions are listed below:

Sometime in February 2012 The BBC Press cuttings service sent to the Director-General’s office should have included a story from that month’s Oldie magazine which is the first report to specifically mention allegations of assaults on under-age girls on BBC premises

09 February 2012

BBC Press cuttings should have included a story in that day’s Guardian diary.

10 February 2012

BBC Press cuttings should have included a page lead story in that day’s Telegraph quoting the Oldie article

11 February 2012

BBC Press cuttings should have included a story in that day’s Mirror

13 February 2012

Press cuttings should have included a story in that day’s Telegraph.

18 May 2012

Freelance reporter Miles Goslett speaks to Jessica Cecil-Head of the DG’s office- on the phone about the BBC’s response to Goslett’s FOI about the allegations

5 August 2012

Press cuttings should include a Sunday Mirror story saying that a forthcoming ITV programme will name Jimmy Savile as a paedophile and say he assaulted underage girls on BBC premises.

6 August 2012

Press cuttings should include a follow up stories appears in the Mirror.

6 September 2012

A letter sent by solicitors Mills and Reeve to The Sunday Times threatening legal action if they print certain allegations against Mark Thompson should have been copied to Mark Thompson or his office. The letter mentions allegations that Savile committed sexual offences on BBC premises.

7 September 2012

A letter from ITV outlining the allegations that will be made in a programme in October about assaults on BBC premises is copied to Mark Thompson’s office by the BBC Press Office.

Finally,a reminder that  on 23 October Mark Thompson wrote to an MP: ‘During my time as Director General of the BBC, I never heard any allegations or received any complaints about Jimmy Savile’.

2 thoughts on “The ‘Newsnight Crisis’ at the BBC: A new timeline from the death of Savile to the appointment of Hall.

  1. 12 November – Tim Davie says he is getting a grip and that Helen Boaden and Stephen Mitchell are stepping asside and Fran Unsworth and Ceri Thomas will fll their roles.

    22 November – Broadcast reports that Boaden and Mitchell plan to visit news teams and keep in touch…….

    …so after ten days Davie’s grip is loosened and the waters are muddied again.

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