Jeremy Paxman has described his programme’s failures in the Jimmy Savile scandal as “pathetic”, adding he believed it to be a BBC “policy judgement” not to pursue the original investigation abandoned by the current affairs show in 2011.
His comments came during the BBC’s internal inquiry into the scandal, later adding that Newsnight's failure to pursue the Savile issue was a “corporate design” from the BBC, which, according to Paxman, had made a “raft of politically-based appointments” leading up to it.
Paxman told former head of Sky News Nick Pollard, who is running the inquiry, that he had also pushed the editor at the time, Peter Rippon, to run a Savile story in the days leading up to the broadcast of the ITV exposé. He said that Rippon's response was a "blanket refusal to entertain the idea".
"What struck me about his reply ... He said, 'I am sorry, I just can't do this'," said Paxman.
However, Paxman went on to say that: “He [Rippon] was being used as the fall guy ... I profoundly disagree with the BBC's refusal to engage with it and to justify or attempt to justify its position."
The Newsnight presenter said BBC management should have "got on the front foot" once the crisis began to break but that BBC's press operation was "terrible" and should have been more proactive.