Interim BBC director general defends redactions made in The Pollard Report release
The interim director general of the BBC Tim Davie has defended the dedactions made within The Pollard Report, which investigated the BBC’s handling of the Jimmy Savile scandal, published earlier today.
In reaction to large amounts of testimony blacked out within the testimonies given by BBC staff, released this morning, Davie said: "We are not redacting or taking away material that is embarrassing or uncomfortable to the BBC. We've simply taken out stuff that external lawyers saw as a clear risk...This is not about protecting the BBC reputation, it was simply about external legal advice.”
In a statement released earlier today, Davie described the actions taken by the BBC as being “open and transparent” and added "It is important that the BBC now moves forward with the lessons learned and continues to regain the public's trust."
The releases transcripts included interviews with former head of news Helen Boden, George Entwistle, the former director general of the BBC and Newsnight presenter Jeremy Paxman.
Paxman’s interview was particularly critical of the organisation and its management.
Asked whether he ever met Jimmy Savile, Newsnight presenter Jeremy Paxman replied: “I don’t think so, and I think he is the sort of repellent character one would have remembered. I would have thought I would have actually gone quite a long way to avoid him.”
On BBC management, Paxman said: "The cast of mind that has overtaken the senior echelons, the sort of people they appoint, there is a raft of appointments now that has been made of people who are clearly not the most creative and decisions appear to be being made about appointments which are politically-based.
He also said of the BBC: "The BBC press operation is so terrible because there is a real problem in finding spokesmen who will defend an articulate point of view.”
In highlighting reduced resources facing Newsnight in his view, Paxman used the following example: “Whereas there used to be something call a ‘lead producer’ on an item and a ‘second producer’, very often nowadays on Newsnight, you will have one producer who has not only to look after making some on-the-day tape but also has to look after finding the relevant guests and getting them to the studio.”
Of the Panorama episode surround the handling of the Savile claims by Newsnight, Paxman admitted to asking to see the script in advance of it going to air: “I didn’t see the Panorama, but I got hold of the script of the Panorama and I called the editor. We were doing Newsnight that night…and I got hold of the script and I called the editor of Panorama and said ‘What have you got?’ because clearly it was going to make life difficult for us, and I thought we might be – you know, one needed to know what was going to be in the Panorama in order to deal with it.”
Meanwhile Lord McAlpine, who was wrongly connected to sexual offences against children by a Newsnight programme that led to Entwistle’s resignation, has described the BBC as having ‘acted like the secret service’.