Dame Janet Smith spent three years investigating the BBC and Savile and then allowed what, half an hour or so for journalists to quiz her on her conclusions limiting each one to one question and a supplementary question? Ridiculous as she strictly regulated what they asked and how long they had to ask it. Surprised at the journalists who deferred to her and allowed her to get away with it. She was there to answer questions not to get away with revealing as little as possible whilst strenuously defending her own reputation..
Her conclusion that the BBC, as a corporate body, was blameless as senior managers had no knowledge of Savile’s activities is complete nonsense. She claims that the hierarchical nature of the BBC meant that such discussions never happened but anyone who has ever worked in any organisation knows that there is huge amounts of contact between the different levels and that ‘gossip’ of such a salacious nature concerning someone as famous as Savile, a person who was a major and important celebrity for the BBC, would have flown around the organisation at speed.
DJS even admits that in 1971 the allegations were in the newspapers but the BBC top brass were so concerned with the reputation of the BBC that they covered them up…how then does she conclude that management knew nothing?
She states that knowledge about Savile was limited to producer level and producers did not have the authority to tackle them…OK say that was true….Savile was carrying out his abuses over many decades so when those producers got promotion and rose up the ranks were they not then in a position to take things further and to take preventative action as they saw he was still employed by the BBC?
DJS said that there was a culture of fear that meant staff would not report Savile’s behaviour for fear of the consequences for their careers. Surely then that is the responsibility of senior management? There have been plenty of similar enquiries about other organisations, such as the Police, where the BBC has been happy to point the finger of blame at senior management for not managing such a culture.
As the lawyer for the victims said, this is an expensive whitewash that gives BBC management a clean bill of health when in reality it beggars belief that they could not have known anything.
Liz Dux, from Slater and Gordon, says:
‘All the Savile and Hall victims have ever wanted from this report is truth and accountability. Despite millions having been spent on the inquiry, my clients will feel let down that the truth has still not been unearthed and many will feel it is nothing more than an expensive whitewash’.
On the basis of reading through parts of the report, it’s difficult to disagree with her assessment.
Having said all that the BBC itself, at least on the shape of BBC Trust headshed Rona Fairhead, took the blame as she said that ‘No one can doubt the BBC failed the victims and it turned a blind eye.’