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Available to read online, the Pollard Report gives an inside look at just how badly the British institution screwed up an investigation relating to Jimmy Savile, where a longtime BBC star was posthumously accused of sexual abuse of young people.
The BBC’s premier nightly news show, Newsnight, had reported on the allegations after his death, but then failed to air their findings. When the scandal broke on a rival TV network, allegations of a cover-up ensued.
The new report is an exhausting read (you can see highlights of it here), but one thing really stands out. Jeremy Paxman, the well-known and respected host of Newsnight, admits that Savile’s crimes were “common gossip”:
It’s fascinating to hear one of the most high profile people in British journalism — and the host of the very BBC show that failed to air its investigations of Savile — admit that it was “common gossip” Savile was a sex offender. As we’ve written before, what’s really horrifying about the Savile case is that there were rumours about him for decades.
If the allegations of sexual abuse are true — and it should be noted that they have never been proven in a court of law — why did Savile never go to trial in his lifetime?
Paxman, also a BBC star for decades, was clearly no fan of Savile. Later in the interview, when asked if he ever met Savile, he responded:
Paxman goes on to rip into the BBC for its “contemptible” towards a former Newsnight editor, and suggests the decision to axe the segment on Savile must have been a “corporate decision”.
The Savile scandal certainly has legs. Last year the controversy snowballed into another scandal involving Newsnight and apparently false pedophilia allegations against a Conservative politician. That scandal resulted in the resignation of the BBC’s top boss.
Now, in a new year, it’s hard not to look at these documents and see one thing — the BBC is an institution in a state a crisis.
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