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BBC Editor Steps Aside In The Wake Of Savile Abuse Scandal

Elizabeth Johnson |
October 22, 2012 | 3:00 p.m. PDT

Executive Producer

Savile after a 1982 marathon (Creative Commons)
Savile after a 1982 marathon (Creative Commons)
Editor Peter Rippon, head of BBC’s “Newsnight,” has stepped aside while an inquiry is held into whether he purposefully pulled a BBC segment investigating over 4 decades of alleged abuse by TV personality Sir Jimmy Savile. 

In a statement, the BBC said that Rippon provided an “inaccurate or incomplete” explanation in a blog post of why Newsnight chose not to broadcast an investigation of Savile in December. Rippon cited editorial reasons for pulling the broadcast. 

The Savile scandal broke this month, with more than 200 potential victims coming forward alleging cases of sexual abuse. Savile, who died last year at 84, has been accused of abusing teenage girls on BBC premises, in hospitals and in children’s homes from 1959 to 2006. Savile was a longtime host of BBC shows “Top of the Pops” and “Jim’ll Fix It”

The police launched a formal investigation into Savile’s alleged abuse on Oct. 19. BBC investigative program “Panorama” will broadcast its own analysis of Rippon’s choice to pull last year’s Savile program on Monday.

According to the New York Times,

“Panorama” said in a statement that its broadcast on Monday would quote “Newsnight” journalists as saying that they had worked on the investigation of Mr. Savile for a month and that they were close to a proposed broadcast date when their editor told them to stop. “Yet just days earlier when they’d confirmed for the first time that the police had investigated allegations of child sex abuse by Savile back in 2007, Newsnight Editor Peter Rippon had responded enthusiastically by e-mail,” the statement said.

“They had already filmed an interview in mid-November 2011 with a key witness, Karin Ward, who alleged that she had been sexually abused by Jimmy Savile during her time at Duncroft,” the statement said, adding that “Karin Ward has agreed that ‘Panorama’ can broadcast clips from that interview for the first time.

Prime Minister David Cameron mounted harsh criticisms against the BBC in a speech Monday, accusing the broadcaster of changing its story and stating that “the nation is appalled by the allegations of what Jimmy Savile did.”

The scandal comes at an inopportune time for the BBC as it enters a period of government negotiations about its charter terms.

Read the full story at the New York Times.

Reach Executive Producer Elizabeth Johnson here. Follow her on Twitter here.



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