BBC director-general George Entwistle will tonight be dragged deeper into the mire surrounding the Jimmy Savile paedophile allegations after a Panorama programme broadcasts fresh allegations claiming he has misled the public about his role in the affair.
A raft of newly released emails and internal communications cast further doubt on the broadcasters decision to drop a Newsnight investigation into its disgraced presenter by calling into question their public statements as to why the decision was made.
These indicate that Newsnight editor Peter Rippon could not broadcast the film if “the bosses aren’t happy”. Rippon is accused of performing a rapid volte face by Newsnight reporter Liz Mckean after being initially enthusiastic about the broadcast
Email trail in full
NOV 25 Peter Rippon emails Newsnight team after being told police had investigated child abuse allegations involving Jimmy Savile in 2007 to say: “Excellent, we can then pull together the tx (Savile Christmas trubute) plan."
NOV 29 BBC Impact Team emails Peter Rippon saying there was: “A huge amount of interest” and that “all domestic outlets would want to run" the story.
NOV 30 Peter Rippon emails 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."
NOV 30 Liz MacKean messages an unnamed friend: “PR [Peter Rippon] says if the bosses aren’t happy ... [he] can’t go to the wall on this one."
DEC 1 Peter Rippon contacts Meirion Jones writing: “I think we should stop working on the other elements ... because we don’t really have a strong enough story without it. I’ll pull editing now."
DEC 2 Head of news Helen Boaden tells George Entwistle at an awards lunch that if the Newsnight programme goes ahead he might have to ditch the Savile tribute programmes.
DEC 7 Meirion Jones emails Peter Rippon insists“the story is strong enough” and the danger of not running it is “substantial damage to BBC reputation”.
DEC 9 The Crown Prosecution Service tells Newsnight it did not investigate Savile because of lack of evidence. Rippon subsequently axes Newsnight item on Savile.
OCT 2 Rippon writes on his blog that all the women spoken to by Newsnight had already been in contact with the police and that no new information had been uncovered. Both these points are disputed by Meirion Jones in Panorama.
OCT 5 George Entwistle emails all BBC staff to say: “The BBC Newsnight programme investigated Surrey Police’s inquiry into Jimmy Savile towards the end of 2011."
OCT 5 Meirion Jones emails George 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."