I did something unusual on Monday night. After I came home from bible study, I stayed up to watch the BBC programme Panorama. For those who are on the West side of the Pond, it concerned the decision not to screen a programme called Newsnight that would have scorched the reputation of the late Jimmy Savile, former miner, dance hall manager DJ and BBC personality.
The BBC prides itself on the impartiality of its news service. It implies that it will report the truth without fear or favour, and irrespective of whose reputation will suffer, so long as what it reports is the truth. And it claims its news service is independent of all other parts of the BBC.
Savile had begun at the BBC as a presenter of its flagship music programme on television, Top of the Pops in 1964 and then became a DJ on its pop music station Radio 1 some 4 years later. He later presented a programme called Savile’s Travels, in which he travelled around the country in a motor caravan meeting various people and played a piece of their favourite music. He also did a programme called Jim’ll Fix It in which he fixed it for various people, usually children, to have some sort of wish come true. He died on 29th October 2011 aged 84.
While he was a dance hall manager, there were rumours that he liked young girls. As well as being a TV presenter and radio personality, he made numerous fund-rising runs for charity where he was frequently seen around teenage fans. He also volunteered as a porter at Leeds General Infirmary, at Stoke Mandeville Hospital, especially the National Spinal Injuries Unit and also had access to Broadmoor Secure Psychiatric Hospital despite having no professional training in any area allied to medicine.
All of these good works gave him the image of a saint in the eyes of the Great and the good. He first of all was awarded the OBE and later a knighthood by Britain and was awarded the honour of Knight Commander of St Gregory the Great from the Vatican.
His “good works” included visiting various places of secure accommodation for adolescent girls with behavioural problems, and he has been accused of sexually assaulting, and in some cases having sexual intercourse with or oral sex with some of these girls, as well as numerous under age (under 16 in the UK) girls on BBC premises such as his dressing room for Top of the Pops. The BBC at the time also employed as a DJ one Chris Denning, who was found guilty of a number of sex offences with under age girls, John Peel who boasted of his having under-age girls when he was employed in the USA prior to returning to the UK, and Jonathan King. One of the allegations is that Gary Glitter, the paedophile Paul Gadd had sex with an underage girl in Savile’s dressing room in view of others including Savile.
By failing to air these allegations after its own reporters had uncovered them, and by suggesting that the enquiries were into a failure by Surrey Police and the Crown Prosecution Service to prosecute Savile, the BBC has put itself into the same pigeon hole as the Roman Catholic Church. What happened was bad enough, but the amateurish attempt at cover up was far far worse. Was the fact that the BBC had four, two on television and two on radio, hagiographic programmes on Savile over the Christmas period really unconnected? The new director general was previously the head of vision for the BBC at the time when it was proposed to air this Newsnight programme and it was he who had commissioned the two television shows on Savile. We need to know if he was the man who pulled the plug. He can deny it, but Savile was asked by BBC executives in the 1970’s if he was a paedophile and denied it. We know how much his word was worth now. Can we trust the word of anyone else in this corrupt and corrupting organisation?